You're supposed to start Apache and MySQL by clicking on a couple files in the XAMPP folder; I think they're called Start_Apache and Start_MySQL, or something like that. But you're supposed to start them in a certain sequence; I can't remember which is first.
You click another file to turn MySQL off, but you just click Apache off by clicking the X in the top right corner of the black screen (console). This confused me at first, because there are so many instructions for turning off Apache on the Internet, and I thought XAMPP's instructions meant to simply apply these commands to the console. But it's really as simple as it sounds - you just click the X in the top right corner.
But it sounds like most people operate Apache "as a service," automatically turning on and off with your computer and running invisible in the background.
I can't remember exactly how I did that, but I think I simply typed a command into the Command Prompt window. If this is all as new to you as it is to me, here are some slightly more elaborate instructions:
If you're using Windows, click the button in the bottom left corner you use to open your software programs ("All Programs"), then click Accessories and Command Prompt...
All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt
This opens up a small black window that will probably say something like C:> or C:/myfolder/, whatever.
You can change it to a different "path" by typing in cd/ (or it might be a backward slash - cd\ ), clicking Enter, then typing in your new path and hitting Enter again. I think you have to change directories to C:/XAMPP/apache/bin/, C:/xampp/htdocs, or something like that.
But before you change the directory, visit Apache's website at http://www.apache.org/
, and click to link for information about Apache servers. I think it's one of the first links in the top left area of the page and says "http/something-or-other." Then click 2.0, for information on Apache 2.0.
Then you can find instructions on what to type in to change Apache to a service.
It took me a long time to figure all this out, though it's actually fairly simple.
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