Find and load configuration from a package.json property, rc file, or CommonJS module
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Cosmiconfig searches for and loads configuration for your program.

It features smart defaults based on conventional expectations in the JavaScript ecosystem. But it's also flexible enough to search wherever you'd like to search, and load whatever you'd like to load.

By default, Cosmiconfig will start where you tell it to start and search up the directory tree for the following:

  • a package.json property
  • a JSON or YAML, extensionless "rc file"
  • an "rc file" with the extensions .json, .yaml, .yml, or .js.
  • a .config.js CommonJS module

For example, if your module's name is "soursocks", cosmiconfig will search up the directory tree for configuration in the following places:

  • a soursocks property in package.json
  • a .soursocksrc file in JSON or YAML format
  • a .soursocksrc.json file
  • a .soursocksrc.yaml, .soursocksrc.yml, or .soursocksrc.js file
  • a soursocks.config.js file exporting a JS object

Cosmiconfig continues to search up the directory tree, checking each of these places in each directory, until it finds some acceptable configuration (or hits the home directory).

👀 Looking for the v4 docs? v5 involves significant revisions to Cosmiconfig's API, allowing for much greater flexibility and clarifying some things. If you have trouble switching from v4 to v5, please file an issue. If you are still using v4, those v4 docs are available in the 4.0.0 tag.

Table of contents


npm install cosmiconfig

Tested in Node 4+.


Create a Cosmiconfig explorer, then either search for or directly load a configuration file.

const cosmiconfig = require('cosmiconfig');
// ...
const explorer = cosmiconfig(moduleName);

// Search for a configuration by walking up directories.
// See documentation for search, below.
  .then((result) => {
    // result.config is the parsed configuration object.
    // result.filepath is the path to the config file that was found.
    // result.isEmpty is true if there was nothing to parse in the config file.
  .catch((error) => {
    // Do something constructive.

// Load a configuration directly when you know where it should be.
// The result object is the same as for search.
// See documentation for load, below.

// You can also search and load synchronously.
const searchedFor = explorer.searchSync();
const loaded = explorer.loadSync(pathToConfig);


The result object you get from search or load has the following properties:

  • config: The parsed configuration object. undefined if the file is empty.
  • filepath: The path to the configuration file that was found.
  • isEmpty: true if the configuration file is empty. This property will not be present if the configuration file is not empty.


const explorer = cosmiconfig(moduleName[, cosmiconfigOptions])

Creates a cosmiconfig instance ("explorer") configured according to the arguments, and initializes its caches.


Type: string. Required.

Your module name. This is used to create the default searchPlaces and packageProp.

cosmiconfigOptions are documented below. You may not need them, and should first read about the functions you'll use.[searchFrom]).then(result => {..})

Searches for a configuration file. Returns a Promise that resolves with a result or with null, if no configuration file is found.

You can do the same thing synchronously with searchSync().

Let's say your module name is goldengrahams so you initialized with const explorer = cosmiconfig('goldengrahams');. Here's how your default search() will work:

  • Starting from process.cwd() (or some other directory defined by the searchFrom argument to search()), look for configuration objects in the following places:
    1. A goldengrahams property in a package.json file.
    2. A .goldengrahamsrc file with JSON or YAML syntax.
    3. A .goldengrahamsrc.json file.
    4. A .goldengrahamsrc.yaml, .goldengrahamsrc.yml, or .goldengrahamsrc.js file.
    5. A goldengrahams.config.js JS file exporting the object.
  • If none of those searches reveal a configuration object, move up one directory level and try again. So the search continues in ./, ../, ../../, ../../../, etc., checking the same places in each directory.
  • Continue searching until arriving at your home directory (or some other directory defined by the cosmiconfig option stopDir).
  • If at any point a parseable configuration is found, the search() Promise resolves with its result (or, with searchSync(), the result is returned).
  • If no configuration object is found, the search() Promise resolves with null (or, with searchSync(), null is returned).
  • If a configuration object is found but is malformed (causing a parsing error), the search() Promise rejects with that error (so you should .catch() it). (Or, with searchSync(), the error is thrown.)

If you know exactly where your configuration file should be, you can use load(), instead.

The search process is highly customizable. Use the cosmiconfig options searchPlaces and loaders to precisely define where you want to look for configurations and how you want to load them.


Type: string. Default: process.cwd().

A filename. search() will start its search here.

If the value is a directory, that's where the search starts. If it's a file, the search starts in that file's directory.


const result = explorer.searchSync([searchFrom]);

Synchronous version of search().

Returns a result or null.


explorer.load(loadPath).then(result => {..})

Loads a configuration file. Returns a Promise that resolves with a result or rejects with an error (if the file does not exist or cannot be loaded).

Use load if you already know where the configuration file is and you just need to load it.

explorer.load('load/this/file.json'); // Tries to load load/this/file.json.

If you load a package.json file, the result will be derived from whatever property is specified as your packageProp.


const result = explorer.loadSync(loadPath);

Synchronous version of load().

Returns a result.


Clears the cache used in load().


Clears the cache used in search().


Performs both clearLoadCache() and clearSearchCache().



Type: Array<string>. Default: See below.

An array of places that search() will check in each directory as it moves up the directory tree. Each place is relative to the directory being searched, and the places are checked in the specified order.

Default searchPlaces:


Create your own array to search more, fewer, or altogether different places.

Every item in searchPlaces needs to have a loader in loaders that corresponds to its extension. (Common extensions are covered by default loaders.) Read more about loaders below.

package.json is a special value: When it is included in searchPlaces, Cosmiconfig will always parse it as JSON and load a property within it, not the whole file. That property is defined with the packageProp option, and defaults to your module name.

Examples, with a module named porgy:

// Disallow extensions on rc files:

// ESLint searches for configuration in these places:

// Babel looks in fewer places:

// Maybe you want to look for a wide variety of JS flavors:
// ^^ You will need to designate custom loaders to tell
// Cosmiconfig how to handle these special JS flavors.

// Look within a .config/ subdirectory of every searched directory:


Type: Object. Default: See below.

An object that maps extensions to the loader functions responsible for loading and parsing files with those extensions.

Cosmiconfig exposes its default loaders for .js, .json, and .yaml as cosmiconfig.loadJs, cosmiconfig.loadJson, and cosmiconfig.loadYaml, respectively.

Default loaders:

  '.json': cosmiconfig.loadJson,
  '.yaml': cosmiconfig.loadYaml,
  '.yml': cosmiconfig.loadYaml,
  '.js': cosmiconfig.loadJs,
  noExt: cosmiconfig.loadYaml

(YAML is a superset of JSON; which means YAML parsers can parse JSON; which is how extensionless files can be either YAML or JSON with only one parser.)

If you provide a loaders object, your object will be merged with the defaults. So you can override one or two without having to override them all.

Keys in loaders are extensions (starting with a period), or noExt to specify the loader for files without extensions, like .soursocksrc.

Values in loaders are either a loader function (described below) or an object with sync and/or async properties, whose values are loader functions.

The most common use case for custom loaders value is to load extensionless rc files as strict JSON, instead of JSON or YAML (the default). To accomplish that, provide the following loaders value:

  noExt: cosmiconfig.loadJson

If you want to load files that are not handled by the loader functions Cosmiconfig exposes, you can write a custom loader function.

Use cases for custom loader function:

  • Allow configuration syntaxes that aren't handled by Cosmiconfig's defaults, like JSON5, INI, or XML.
  • Allow ES2015 modules from .mjs configuration files.
  • Parse JS files with Babel before deriving the configuration.

Custom loader functions have the following signature:

// Sync
(filepath: string, content: string) => Object | null

// Async
(filepath: string, content: string) => Object | null | Promise<Object | null>

Cosmiconfig reads the file when it checks whether the file exists, so it will provide you with both the file's path and its content. Do whatever you need to, and return either a configuration object or null (or, for async-only loaders, a Promise that resolves with one of those). null indicates that no real configuration was found and the search should continue.

It's easiest if you make your custom loader function synchronous. Then it can be used regardless of whether you end up calling search() or searchSync(), load() or loadSync(). If you want or need to provide an async-only loader, you can do so by making the value of loaders an object with an async property whose value is the async loader. You can also add a sync property to designate a sync loader, if you want to use both async and sync search and load functions.

A few things to note:

  • If you use a custom loader, be aware of whether it's sync or async and how that aligned with your usage of sync or async search and load functions.
  • Special JS syntax can also be handled by using a require hook, because cosmiconfig.loadJs just uses require. Whether you use custom loaders or a require hook is up to you.


// Allow JSON5 syntax:
  '.json': json5Loader

// Allow XML, and treat sync and async separately:
  '.xml': { async: asyncXmlLoader, sync: syncXmlLoader }

// Allow a special configuration syntax of your own creation:
  '.special': specialLoader

// Allow many flavors of JS, using custom loaders:
  '.mjs': esmLoader,
  '.ts': typeScriptLoader,
  '.coffee': coffeeScriptLoader

// Allow many flavors of JS but rely on require hooks:
  '.mjs': cosmiconfig.loadJs,
  '.ts': cosmiconfig.loadJs,
  '.coffee': cosmiconfig.loadJs


Type: string. Default: `${moduleName}`.

Name of the property in package.json to look for.


Type: string. Default: Absolute path to your home directory.

Directory where the search will stop.


Type: boolean. Default: true.

If false, no caches will be used. Read more about "Caching" below.


Type: (Result) => Promise<Result> | Result.

A function that transforms the parsed configuration. Receives the result.

If using search() or load() (which are async), the transform function can return the transformed result or return a Promise that resolves with the transformed result. If using searchSync() or loadSync(), the function must be synchronous and return the transformed result.

The reason you might use this option — instead of simply applying your transform function some other way — is that the transformed result will be cached. If your transformation involves additional filesystem I/O or other potentially slow processing, you can use this option to avoid repeating those steps every time a given configuration is searched or loaded.


Type: boolean. Default: true.

By default, if search() encounters an empty file (containing nothing but whitespace) in one of the searchPlaces, it will ignore the empty file and move on. If you'd like to load empty configuration files, instead, set this option to false.

Why might you want to load empty configuration files? If you want to throw an error, or if an empty configuration file means something to your program.


As of v2, cosmiconfig uses caching to reduce the need for repetitious reading of the filesystem or expensive transforms. Every new cosmiconfig instance (created with cosmiconfig()) has its own caches.

To avoid or work around caching, you can do the following:

Differences from rc

rc serves its focused purpose well. cosmiconfig differs in a few key ways — making it more useful for some projects, less useful for others:

  • Looks for configuration in some different places: in a package.json property, an rc file, a .config.js file, and rc files with extensions.
  • Built-in support for JSON, YAML, and CommonJS formats.
  • Stops at the first configuration found, instead of finding all that can be found up the directory tree and merging them automatically.
  • Options.
  • Asynchronous by default (though can be run synchronously).

Contributing & Development

Please note that this project is released with a Contributor Code of Conduct. By participating in this project you agree to abide by its terms.

And please do participate!