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npm-faq(1) -- Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find these docs in HTML?, or run:

npm config set viewer browser

to open these documents in your default web browser rather than man.

It didn't work.

That's not really a question.

Why didn't it work?

I don't know yet.

Read the error output, and if you can't figure out what it means, do what it says and post a bug with all the information it asks for.

Where does npm put stuff?

See npm-folders(1)


  • Use the npm root command to see where modules go, and the npm bin command to see where executables go
  • Global installs are different from local installs. If you install something with the -g flag, then its executables go in npm bin -g and its modules go in npm root -g.

How do I install something on my computer in a central location?

Install it globally by tacking -g or --global to the command. (This is especially important for command line utilities that need to add their bins to the global system PATH.)

I installed something globally, but I can't require() it

Install it locally.

The global install location is a place for command-line utilities to put their bins in the system PATH. It's not for use with require().

If you require() a module in your code, then that means it's a dependency, and a part of your program. You need to install it locally in your program.

Why can't npm just put everything in one place, like other package managers?

Not every change is an improvement, but every improvement is a change. This would be like asking git to do network IO for every commit. It's not going to happen, because it's a terrible idea that causes more problems than it solves.

It is much harder to avoid dependency conflicts without nesting dependencies. This is fundamental to the way that npm works, and has proven to be an extremely successful approach. See npm-folders(1) for more details.

If you want a package to be installed in one place, and have all your programs reference the same copy of it, then use the npm link command. That's what it's for. Install it globally, then link it into each program that uses it.

Whatever, I really want the old style 'everything global' style.

Write your own package manager, then. It's not that hard.

npm will not help you do something that is known to be a bad idea.

Should I check my node_modules folder into git?

Mikeal Rogers answered this question very well:


  • Check node_modules into git for things you deploy, such as websites and apps.
  • Do not check node_modules into git for libraries and modules intended to be reused.
  • Use npm to manage dependencies in your dev environment, but not in your deployment scripts.

Is it 'npm' or 'NPM' or 'Npm'?

npm should never be capitalized unless it is being displayed in a location that is customarily all-caps (such as the title of man pages.)

If 'npm' is an acronym, why is it never capitalized?

Contrary to the belief of many, "npm" is not in fact an abbreviation for "Node Package Manager". It is a recursive bacronymic abbreviation for "npm is not an acronym". (If it was "ninaa", then it would be an acronym, and thus incorrectly named.)

"NPM", however, is an acronym (more precisely, a capitonym) for the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. You can learn more about them at

In software, "NPM" is a Non-Parametric Mapping utility written by Chris Rorden. You can analyze pictures of brains with it. Learn more about the (capitalized) NPM program at

The first seed that eventually grew into this flower was a bash utility named "pm", which was a shortened descendent of "pkgmakeinst", a bash function that was used to install various different things on different platforms, most often using Yahoo's yinst. If npm was ever an acronym for anything, it was node pm or maybe new pm.

So, in all seriousness, the "npm" project is named after its command-line utility, which was organically selected to be easily typed by a right-handed programmer using a US QWERTY keyboard layout, ending with the right-ring-finger in a postition to type the - key for flags and other command-line arguments. That command-line utility is always lower-case, though it starts most sentences it is a part of.

How do I list installed packages?

npm ls

How do I search for packages?

npm search

Arguments are greps. npm search jsdom shows jsdom packages.

How do I update npm?

npm update npm -g

You can also update all outdated local packages by doing npm update without any arguments, or global packages by doing npm update -g.

Occasionally, the version of npm will progress such that the current version cannot be properly installed with the version that you have installed already. (Consider, if there is ever a bug in the update command.)

In those cases, you can do this:

curl | sh

What is a package?

A package is:

  • a) a folder containing a program described by a package.json file
  • b) a gzipped tarball containing (a)
  • c) a url that resolves to (b)
  • d) a <name>@<version> that is published on the registry with (c)
  • e) a <name>@<tag> that points to (d)
  • f) a <name> that has a "latest" tag satisfying (e)
  • g) a git url that, when cloned, results in (a).

Even if you never publish your package, you can still get a lot of benefits of using npm if you just want to write a node program (a), and perhaps if you also want to be able to easily install it elsewhere after packing it up into a tarball (b).

Git urls can be of the form:


The commit-ish can be any tag, sha, or branch which can be supplied as an argument to git checkout. The default is master.

How do I install node with npm?

You don't. Try one of these:

How can I use npm for development?

See npm-developers(1) and npm-json(1).

You'll most likely want to npm link your development folder. That's awesomely handy.

To set up your own private registry, check out npm-registry(1).

Can I list a url as a dependency?

Yes. It should be a url to a gzipped tarball containing a single folder that has a package.json in its root, or a git url. (See "what is a package?" above.)

How do I symlink to a dev folder so I don't have to keep re-installing?

See npm-link(1)

The package registry website. What is that exactly?

See npm-registry(1).

What's up with the insecure channel warnings?

Until node 0.4.10, there were problems sending big files over HTTPS. That means that publishes go over HTTP by default in those versions of node.

I forgot my password, and can't publish. How do I reset it?

Go to

I get ECONNREFUSED a lot. What's up?

Either the registry is down, or node's DNS isn't able to reach out.

To check if the registry is down, open up in a web browser. This will also tell you if you are just unable to access the internet for some reason.

If the registry IS down, let me know by emailing or posting an issue. We'll have someone kick it or something.

Why no namespaces?

Please see this discussion:

tl;dr - It doesn't actually make things better, and can make them worse.

If you want to namespace your own packages, you may: simply use the - character to separate the names. npm is a mostly anarchic system. There is not sufficient need to impose namespace rules on everyone.

Who does npm?

npm view npm author

npm view npm contributors

I have a question or request not addressed here. Where should I put it?

Discuss it on the mailing list, or post an issue.

Why does npm hate me?

npm is not capable of hatred. It loves everyone, especially you.


  • npm(1)
  • npm-developers(1)
  • npm-json(1)
  • npm-config(1)
  • npm-folders(1)
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