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Rickard Natt och Dag
Rickard Natt och Dag

Posted on • Originally published at on

Save disk space by deleting unused node_modules

I quickly understood that I had forgotten to remove node_modules when I wanted to copy my projects folder to a new computer and the process was going to take multiple hours. Luckily, my dotfiles already contained a command to remove all the node_modules folders at once. This time the command saved me ~40 GB.

# Use the command at you own risk
find . -name "node_modules" -type d -prune -exec rm -rf '{}' +
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There's a lot to the command, but here's an explanation of each part to demystify it.

  • find - A command that comes built-in with MacOS and Linux.
  • . - Look from this location
  • -name "node_modules" - Make sure the last component of the pathname matches node_modules
  • -type d - We are looking for a directory (d)
  • -prune - Stops find from descending into the folder, meaning that it won't look for node_modules inside node_modules and so on.
  • -exec rm -rf '{}' + - Runs the specified command, rm, with flags r (remove directory) and f (do not ask for confirmation no matter what the file permissions are). '{}' will be replaced by the pathname that's been found. + means that find will append all the file paths to a single command instead of running rm for each.

If you just want to find node_modules folders and display their disk size use the following command.

find . -name "node_modules" -type d -prune -print | xargs du -chs
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There's also an npm command that you can use by running npx npkill if you don't want to mess with terminal commands.

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