Wildcards in a Windows hosts file – Dev

The best answers to the question “Wildcards in a Windows hosts file” in the category Dev.


I want to setup my local development machine so that any requests for *.local are redirected to localhost. The idea is that as I develop multiple sites, I can just add vhosts to Apache called site1.local, site2.local etc, and have them all resolve to localhost, while Apache serves a different site accordingly.

I am on Windows XP.

I tried adding       *.local

to my c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts file, also tried:       .local

Neither of which seem to work.

I know I can set them up on different port numbers, but that is a pain since it is hard to remember which port is which.

I don’t want to have to setup a local DNS server or anything hard, any suggestions?


To answer your question, you cannot use wildcards in the hosts file under Windows.

However, if you want to only change the hosts file to make new sites work…. you can configure your Apache like this and you don’t have to keep editing it’s config:


Basically a quick summary based on my setup, add the following to your apache.conf file:

 LoadModule vhost_alias_module modules/mod_vhost_alias.so

 NameVirtualHost *:80

  <Directory "/xampp/sites">
      Options Indexes FollowSymLinks Includes ExecCGI
      AllowOverride All
      Order allow,deny
      Allow from all 

  <VirtualHost *:80>
      VirtualDocumentRoot c:/xampp/sites/%-1/%-2+/

This allows me to add an entry like:       test.dev

and then make the directory, c:\xampp\sites\dev\test and place the necessary files in there and it just works.

The other option is to use <Directory> tags in apache.conf and reference the pages from http://localhost/project/.


Acrylic DNS Proxy (free, open source) does the job. It creates a proxy DNS server (on your own computer) with its own hosts file. The hosts file accepts wildcards.

Download from the offical website


Configuring Acrylic DNS Proxy

To configure Acrylic DNS Proxy, install it from the above link then go to:

  1. Start
  2. Programs
  3. Acrylic DNS Proxy
  4. Config
  5. Edit Custom Hosts File (AcrylicHosts.txt)

Add the folowing lines on the end of the file:   *.localhost   *.local   *.lc

Restart the Acrylic DNS Proxy service:

  1. Start
  2. Programs
  3. Acrilic DNS Proxy
  4. Config
  5. Restart Acrylic Service

You will also need to adjust your DNS setting in you network interface settings:

  1. Start
  2. Control Panel
  3. Network and Internet
  4. Network Connections
  5. Local Area Connection Properties
  6. TCP/IPv4

Set “Use the following DNS server address”:

Preferred DNS Server:

If you then combine this answer with jeremyasnyder’s answer (using VirtualDocumentRoot) you can then automatically setup domains/virtual hosts by simply creating a directory.


To add to the great suggestions already here, XIP.IO is a fantastic wildcard DNS server that’s publicly available.

      myproject.  -- resolves to -->
  other.project.  -- resolves to -->
   other.machine.  -- resolves to -->

(The ability to specify non-loopback addresses is fantastic for testing sites on iOS devices where you cannot access a hosts file.)

If you combine this with some of the Apache configuration mentioned in other answers, you can potentially add VirtualHosts with zero setup.


I don’t think that it is possible.

You anyway have to modify the apache virtualroot entries every time you add a new site and location, so it’s not a big work to syncronise the new name to the Windows vhost file.

Update: please check the next answer and the comments on this answer. This answer is 6 years old and not correct anymore.