How to run apps

Roger Wang edited this page Mar 23, 2016 · 13 revisions

NOTE: some content in this wiki applies only to 0.12 and earlier versions. For official documentation on 0.13 and later, see

Since our package system is similar to LÖVE, following guides are modified from its Wiki.

node-webkit can load an app in two ways:

  • From a folder. The startup path specifies this folder.
  • From a .nw file (a renamed .zip-file). The startup path specifies the file.

In both cases, there has to be a file called package.json in the startup path or .nw zipfile. This file will be parsed when node-webkit starts. If this file is missing, node-webkit will not recognize the folder or .nw file as app, and it will complain about a wrongly packaged app. A frequently made mistake is zipping the folder rather than its contents. This stems from very old practice (because when you unzip a folder you don't want it to splash out all over your current directory), but for node-webkit doing that doesn't make sense: you need to zip the app folder's contents only, to get a correct .nw.

All platforms

You can put files of node-webkit in the same directory with your app's files including package.json, and then just run the nw executable.


On Windows, the easiest way to run the app is to drag the folder onto nw.exe, or a shortcut to nw.exe. Remember to drag the folder containing package.json, and not package.json itself.

You can also call it from the command line:

For instance:

C:\nw\nw.exe C:\apps\myapp
C:\nw\nw.exe C:\apps\packagedapp.nw

You can also:

  1. Copy the command (C:\nw\nw.exe "C:\apps\myapp")
  2. Right-click in a folder or on the desktop
  3. New > Shortcut
  4. Paste > Next
  5. Type the App name > Finish

Now you are always just a double-click away from running your app.


On Linux, you can use one of these command lines:

nw /home/path/to/appdir/
nw /home/path/to/packagedapp.nw

If you have installed the .deb, you can double click on .nw files in your file manager as well.

If you see this error:

nw: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

Please read The solution of lacking

Mac OS X

On Mac OSX, a folder or .nw file can be dropped onto the application bundle. On the Mac OSX Terminal (commandline), you can use nw like this (assuming it's installed to the Applications directory):

open -n -a nwjs --args "/home/path/to/app"

In some cases it may be faster to invoke the nw binary inside the application bundle directly via the following:

/Applications/ myapp

You can setup an alias in your Terminal session to call the binary when you use nw by adding an alias to your ~/.bash_profile (open -a TextEdit ~/.bash_profile):

# alias to nw
alias nw="/Applications/"

You have to refresh the bash shell environment:

source ~/.bash_profile

Now you can call nw from the commandline like Linux and Windows:

nw "/home/path/to/game"

Using npm nw installer

nw on and nw on github

Install globally:

sudo npm install -g nw
nw ./my_nwjs_app

Install locally:

npm install nw
node_modules/.bin/nw ./my_nwjs_app
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