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Build NW.js applications for Mac, Windows and Linux.

For version 3, please go to the corresponding branch.

Major Features

  • Get, run or build applications.
  • Integrate FFmpeg community builds
  • Configure executable fields and icons
  • Downloading from mirrors
  • Node Native Addon support

Table of Contents


Every NW.js release includes a modified Node.js binary at a specific version. It is recommended to install exactly that version on the host system. Not doing so may download ABI incompatible Node modules. Consult the NW.js versions manifest for what Node.js version to install. It is recommended to use a Node version manager (such as volta, n, nvm, or nvm-windows) to be able to easily install and switch between Node versions.

For example, NW.js v0.83.0 comes with Node.js v21.1.0.

$: node --version


This package can be used via a command line interface, be imported as a JavaScript module, or configured via the Node manifest as a JSON object.

ESM import:

import nwbuild from "nw-builder";

CJS import:

let nwbuild;
  .then((object) => {
    nwbuild = obj;
  .catch((error) => {

Node manifest usage:

    "nwbuild": {
        // user specified options

From here on we will show nw-builder functionality by using the JavaScript module. Please note that the same method applies when using a command line or Node manifest.


nw-builder can get, run and build NW.js applications. We refer to them as get, run and build modes.

Get Mode

Deprecation warning: From v4.6.4 onward, run mode is deprecated. This logic will be ported over to nwjs/npm-installer repo and removed in the next major release.

By default you get the normal build of the latest NW.js release for your specific platform and arch. For more information, please refer to the API reference.

  mode: "get"

Get the community built FFmeg which contains proprietary codecs. This options is disabled by default. Please read the license's constraints before enabling this option.

  mode: "get",
  ffmpeg: true

Get Node headers if you have to rebuild Node addons.

  mode: "get",
  nativeAddon: "gyp"

Run Mode

Deprecation warning: From v4.6.0 onward, run mode is deprecated. This logic will be ported over to nwjs/npm-installer repo and removed in the next major release.

  mode: "run",
  srcDir: "./app",
  glob: false,

Build Mode

Build with defaults:

  mode: "build",

Managed Manifest

You can let nw-builder manage your node modules. The managedManifest options accepts a boolean, string or object type. It will then remove devDependencies, autodetect and download dependencies via the relevant packageManager. If none is specified, it uses npm as default.

Setting it to true will parse the first Node manifest it encounters as the NW manifest.

  mode: "build",
  managedManifest: true,

Setting it to a string implies that you are passing the file path to the NW manifest.

  mode: "build",
  managedManifest: "./nw.js",

Setting it to a object implies you are directly passing the NW manifest as a JavaScript object.

  mode: "build",
  managedManifest: {
    name: "nwdemo",
    main: "index.html"

Rebuild Node addons

Currently this feature is quite limited. It only builds node addons which have a binding.gyp file in the srcDir. There are plans to support nan, cmake, ffi and gn and auto rebuild native addons which are installed as node modules.

  mode: "build",
  nodeAddon: "gyp",

We recommend rebuilding Node addons for NW.js via node-gyp if you are using NW.js v0.83.0 or above.

node-gyp rebuild --target=21.1.0 --nodedir=/path/to/nw/node/headers

NW.js's Node version should match the Node version on the host machine due to ABI differences in V8.

API Reference


Name Type Default Description
app LinuxRc | WinRc | OsxRc Additional options for each platform. (See below.)
mode "get" | "run" | "build" "build" Choose between get, run or build mode
version string | "latest" | "stable" "latest" Runtime version
flavor "normal" | "sdk" "normal" Runtime flavor
platform "linux" | "osx" | "win" Host platform
arch "ia32" | "x64" | "arm64" Host architecture
downloadUrl "" | "" | | "" "" Download server. Supports file systems too (for example file:///home/localghost/nwjs_mirror)
manifestUrl "" | "" "" Versions manifest
cacheDir string "./cache" Directory to cache NW binaries
srcDir string "./" File paths to application code
outDir string "./out" Directory to store build artifacts
managedManifest boolean | string | object false Managed manifest
nodeAddon false | "gyp" false Rebuild Node native addons
cache boolean true If true the existing cache is used. Otherwise it removes and redownloads it.
ffmpeg boolean false If true the chromium ffmpeg is replaced by community version with proprietary codecs.
glob boolean true If true file globbing is enabled when parsing srcDir.
logLevel "error" | "warn" | "info" | "debug" "info" Specify level of logging.
zip boolean | "zip" | "tar" | "tgz" false If true, "zip", "tar" or "tgz" the outDir directory is compressed.

app configuration object

This object defines additional properties used for building for a specific platform. For each platform, pass an object with appropriate values:

Windows-specific options (WinRc)

Name Type Default Description
icon string undefined The path to the icon file. It should be a .ico file.
name string Value of name in app's package.json The name of the application
version string Value of version in app's package.json The version of the application
comments string undefined Additional information that should be displayed for diagnostic purposes.
company string undefined Company that produced the file—for example, Microsoft Corporation or Standard Microsystems Corporation, Inc. This string is required.
fileDescription string Value of description in app's package.json File description to be presented to users. This string may be displayed in a list box when the user is choosing files to install. For example, Keyboard Driver for AT-Style Keyboards. This string is required.
fileVersion string Value of version in app's package.json Version number of the file. For example, 3.10 or 5.00.RC2. This string is required.
internalName string undefined Internal name of the file, if one exists—for example, a module name if the file is a dynamic-link library. If the file has no internal name, this string should be the original filename, without extension. This string is required.
legalCopyright string NW.js' copyright info Copyright notices that apply to the file. This should include the full text of all notices, legal symbols, copyright dates, and so on. This string is optional.
legalTrademark string undefined Trademarks and registered trademarks that apply to the file. This should include the full text of all notices, legal symbols, trademark numbers, and so on. This string is optional.
originalFilename string Value of name option Original name of the file, not including a path. This information enables an application to determine whether a file has been renamed by a user. The format of the name depends on the file system for which the file was created. This string is required.
privateBuild string undefined Information about a private version of the file—for example, Built by TESTER1 on \TESTBED.
productName string Matches the package name defined in app's package.json Name of the product with which the file is distributed. This string is required.
productVersion string Value of version in app's package.json Version of the product with which the file is distributed—for example, 3.10 or 5.00.RC2.
specialBuild string undefined Text that specifies how this version of the file differs from the standard version—for example, Private build for TESTER1 solving mouse problems on M250 and M250E computers.

Linux-specific options (LinuxRc)

Name Type Description
name string Name of the application
genericName string Generic name of the application
noDisplay boolean If true the application is not displayed
comment string Tooltip for the entry, for example "View sites on the Internet".
icon string Icon to display in file manager, menus, etc.
hidden boolean TBD
onlyShowIn string[] A list of strings identifying the desktop environments that should display a given desktop entry
notShowIn string[] A list of strings identifying the desktop environments that should not display a given desktop entry
dBusActivatable boolean A boolean value specifying if D-Bus activation is supported for this application
tryExec string Path to an executable file on disk used to determine if the program is actually installed
exec string Program to execute, possibly with arguments.
path string If entry is of type Application, the working directory to run the program in.
terminal boolean Whether the program runs in a terminal window.
actions string[] Identifiers for application actions.
mimeType string[] The MIME type(s) supported by this application.
categories string[] Categories in which the entry should be shown in a menu
implements string[] A list of interfaces that this application implements.
keywords string[] A list of strings which may be used in addition to other metadata to describe this entry.
startupNotify boolean If true, it is KNOWN that the application will send a "remove" message when started with the DESKTOP_STARTUP_ID environment variable set. If false, it is KNOWN that the application does not work with startup notification at all.
startupWMClass string If specified, it is known that the application will map at least one window with the given string as its WM class or WM name hin
prefersNonDefaultGPU boolean If true, the application prefers to be run on a more powerful discrete GPU if available.
singleMainWindow string If true, the application has a single main window, and does not support having an additional one opened.

MacOS-specific options (OsxRc)

Name Type Description
name string The name of the application
icon string The path to the icon file. It should be a .icns file.
LSApplicationCategoryType string The category that best describes your app for the App Store.
CFBundleIdentifier string A unique identifier for a bundle usually in reverse DNS format.
CFBundleName string A user-visible short name for the bundle.
CFBundleDisplayName string The user-visible name for the bundle.
CFBundleSpokenName string A replacement for the app name in text-to-speech operations.
CFBundleVersion string The version of the build that identifies an iteration of the bundle.
CFBundleShortVersionString string The release or version number of the bundle.
NSHumanReadableCopyright string A human-readable copyright notice for the bundle.


Get unofficial MacOS builds

If you're running older Apple machines, you can download the unofficial builds.

Note: You will have to manually remove quarantine flag.

sudo xattr -r -d /path/to/
  mode: "get",
  platform: "osx",
  arch: "arm64",
  downloadUrl: "",
  manifestUrl: "",

Note: Community FFmpeg binaries may not be available for unofficial builds. You will have to rebuild them yourself.

Get binaries via mirrors

China mirror:

  mode: "get",
  downloadUrl: "",

Singapore mirror:

  mode: "get",
  downloadUrl: "",

Let nw-builder manage your native addons

Note: this behaviour is buggy and quite limited. This guide is to show what will be possible in the coming minor releases.

  mode: "build",
  managedManifest: true,
  nativeAddon: "gyp",


External contributor

  • We use Conventional Commits style of commit messages.
  • On opening a new PR, the comments will guide you on how to construct the new PR.
  • Pull requests are squashed and merged onto the main branch.
  • PR title is used as commit's first line, PR description is used as commit body.
  • Only commit messages starting with fix, feat and chore are recognised by the Release Please bot.
  • Lint your code before commiting your change.
  • Add tests whenever possible.

Maintainer guidelines

  • Approve pull requests before merging.
  • Enforce conventional commits before merging pull requests.
  • A commit's first line should be formatted as <type>[optional scope]: <description>.
  • A commit's body should have a description of changes in bullet points followed by any links it references or issues it fixes or closes.
  • Google's Release Please Action is used to update the changelog, bump the package version and generate GitHub releases.
  • NPM Publish Action publishes to npm if there is a version bump.



  • Managed Manifest is broken. If glob is disabled and srcDir has no package.json, build fails.
  • Add back error, info, warn and debug logs


  • feat(get): support canary releases
  • feat(bld): rename MacOS Helper apps
  • feat(pkg): add AppImage installer
  • feat(pkg): add NSIS installer
  • feat(pkg): add DMG installer
  • feat(get): add Linux ARM unofficial support
  • feat(bld): add source code protection
  • feat(pkg): add code signing


  • chore(get): verify sha checksum for downloads
  • chore: annotate file paths as fs.PathLike instead of string.
  • chore(bld): factor out core build step
  • chore(bld): factor out linux config
  • chore(bld): factor out macos config
  • chore(bld): factor out windows config
  • chore(bld): factor out native addon
  • chore(bld): factor out compressing
  • chore(bld): factor out managed manifest
  • chore(bld): move .desktop entry file logic to create-desktop-shortcuts package



MIT License.