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Basic Usage
Basic Usage
Hugo's CLI is fully featured but simple to use, even for those who have very limited experience working from the command line.
getting started
command line
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The following is a description of the most common commands you will use while developing your Hugo project. See the Command Line Reference for a comprehensive view of Hugo's CLI.

Test Installation

Once you have installed Hugo, make sure it is in your PATH. You can test that Hugo has been installed correctly via the help command:

hugo help

The output you see in your console should be similar to the following:

hugo is the main command, used to build your Hugo site.

Hugo is a Fast and Flexible Static Site Generator
built with love by spf13 and friends in Go.

Complete documentation is available at

  hugo [flags]
  hugo [command]

Available Commands:
  check       Contains some verification checks
  config      Print the site configuration
  convert     Convert your content to different formats
  env         Print Hugo version and environment info
  gen         A collection of several useful generators.
  help        Help about any command
  import      Import your site from others.
  list        Listing out various types of content
  new         Create new content for your site
  server      A high performance webserver
  version     Print the version number of Hugo

  -b, --baseURL string         hostname (and path) to the root, e.g.
  -D, --buildDrafts            include content marked as draft
  -E, --buildExpired           include expired content
  -F, --buildFuture            include content with publishdate in the future
      --cacheDir string        filesystem path to cache directory. Defaults: $TMPDIR/hugo_cache/
      --cleanDestinationDir    remove files from destination not found in static directories
      --config string          config file (default is path/config.yaml|json|toml)
      --configDir string       config dir (default "config")
  -c, --contentDir string      filesystem path to content directory
      --debug                  debug output
  -d, --destination string     filesystem path to write files to
      --disableKinds strings   disable different kind of pages (home, RSS etc.)
      --enableGitInfo          add Git revision, date and author info to the pages
  -e, --environment string     build environment
      --forceSyncStatic        copy all files when static is changed.
      --gc                     enable to run some cleanup tasks (remove unused cache files) after the build
  -h, --help                   help for hugo
      --i18n-warnings          print missing translations
      --ignoreCache            ignores the cache directory
  -l, --layoutDir string       filesystem path to layout directory
      --log                    enable Logging
      --logFile string         log File path (if set, logging enabled automatically)
      --minify                 minify any supported output format (HTML, XML etc.)
      --noChmod                don't sync permission mode of files
      --noTimes                don't sync modification time of files
      --path-warnings          print warnings on duplicate target paths etc.
      --quiet                  build in quiet mode
      --renderToMemory         render to memory (only useful for benchmark testing)
  -s, --source string          filesystem path to read files relative from
      --templateMetrics        display metrics about template executions
      --templateMetricsHints   calculate some improvement hints when combined with --templateMetrics
  -t, --theme strings          themes to use (located in /themes/THEMENAME/)
      --themesDir string       filesystem path to themes directory
      --trace file             write trace to file (not useful in general)
  -v, --verbose                verbose output
      --verboseLog             verbose logging
  -w, --watch                  watch filesystem for changes and recreate as needed

Use "hugo [command] --help" for more information about a command.

The hugo Command

The most common usage is probably to run hugo with your current directory being the input directory.

This generates your website to the public/ directory by default, although you can customize the output directory in your site configuration by changing the publishDir field.

The command hugo renders your site into public/ dir and is ready to be deployed to your web server:

0 draft content
0 future content
99 pages created
0 paginator pages created
16 tags created
0 groups created
in 90 ms

Draft, Future, and Expired Content

Hugo allows you to set draft, publishdate, and even expirydate in your content's front matter. By default, Hugo will not publish:

  1. Content with a future publishdate value
  2. Content with draft: true status
  3. Content with a past expirydate value

All three of these can be overridden during both local development and deployment by adding the following flags to hugo and hugo server, respectively, or by changing the boolean values assigned to the fields of the same name (without --) in your configuration:

  1. --buildFuture
  2. --buildDrafts
  3. --buildExpired


Hugo comes with LiveReload built in. There are no additional packages to install. A common way to use Hugo while developing a site is to have Hugo run a server with the hugo server command and watch for changes:

hugo server
0 draft content
0 future content
99 pages created
0 paginator pages created
16 tags created
0 groups created
in 120 ms
Watching for changes in /Users/yourname/sites/yourhugosite/{data,content,layouts,static}
Serving pages from /Users/yourname/sites/yourhugosite/public
Web Server is available at http://localhost:1313/
Press Ctrl+C to stop

This will run a fully functioning web server while simultaneously watching your file system for additions, deletions, or changes within the following areas of your project organization:

  • /static/*
  • /content/*
  • /data/*
  • /i18n/*
  • /layouts/*
  • /themes/<CURRENT-THEME>/*
  • config

Whenever you make changes, Hugo will simultaneously rebuild the site and continue to serve content. As soon as the build is finished, LiveReload tells the browser to silently reload the page.

Most Hugo builds are so fast that you may not notice the change unless looking directly at the site in your browser. This means that keeping the site open on a second monitor (or another half of your current monitor) allows you to see the most up-to-date version of your website without the need to leave your text editor.

{{% note "Closing </body> Tag"%}} Hugo injects the LiveReload <script> before the closing </body> in your templates and will therefore not work if this tag is not present.. {{% /note %}}

Disable LiveReload

LiveReload works by injecting JavaScript into the pages Hugo generates. The script creates a connection from the browser's web socket client to the Hugo web socket server.

LiveReload is awesome for development. However, some Hugo users may use hugo server in production to instantly display updated content. The following methods make it easy to disable LiveReload:

hugo server --watch=false


hugo server --disableLiveReload

The latter flag can be omitted by adding the following key-value to your config.toml or config.yml file, respectively:

disableLiveReload = true
disableLiveReload: true

Deploy Your Website

After running hugo server for local web development, you need to do a final hugo run without the server part of the command to rebuild your site. You may then deploy your site by copying the public/ directory to your production web server.

Since Hugo generates a static website, your site can be hosted anywhere using any web server. See Hosting and Deployment for methods for hosting and automating deployments contributed by the Hugo community.

{{% warning "Generated Files are NOT Removed on Site Build" %}} Running hugo does not remove generated files before building. This means that you should delete your public/ directory (or the publish directory you specified via flag or configuration file) before running the hugo command. If you do not remove these files, you run the risk of the wrong files (e.g., drafts or future posts) being left in the generated site. {{% /warning %}}

Dev vs Deploy Destinations

Hugo does not remove generated files before building. An easy workaround is to use different directories for development and production.

To start a server that builds draft content (helpful for editing), you can specify a different destination; e.g., a dev/ directory:

hugo server -wDs ~/Code/hugo/docs -d dev

When the content is ready for publishing, use the default public/ dir:

hugo -s ~/Code/hugo/docs

This prevents draft content from accidentally becoming available.

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