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npm commands every developer should know

NPM stands for Node Package Manager, is one of the most used tools for any javascript developer. It puts all modules in one place so that node can find them, and manages dependency conflicts. Here's a list of the most common npm commands you should be aware of.


This command is used to install the npm package and the other packages which the particular package depends on. It will install in the local node_modules folder.

npm install <packagename>

There's a shorthand for installing the new packages.

npm i <packagename>


This command does the exact opposite of install. It will uninstall the package completely which is already exist in the node_modules folder. If the package mention is not present package.json list or node_modules folder, it won't do anything.

npm uninstall <packagename>

Shorthand for uninstalling the new packages.

npm un <packagename>


This command updates the current package to the latest version and if no package name has been specified then it will update all packages. If some package is missing, it will check and update those too.

npm update <packagename> or npm update

Shorthand for updating the packages.

npm up <packagename>


This command will update the npm registry entry for a package by providing a deprecation warning or message to all who attempt to install it.

npm deprecate <pkg>[@<version range>] <message>


To un-deprecate a particular package, specify an empty string ("") for the message argument. Note that you must use double quotes with no space between them.

npm deprecate <pkg>[@<version range>] ""


It checks our environment so that our npm installation has what it needs to manage our JavaScript packages. Before installing npm will check for some basic requirements which has to be met by the packages.

  • Node.js and git must be executable by npm.
  • Make sure the npm registry,, or another service that uses the registry API is available.
  • Directories that uses npm, node_modules (both locally and globally), exist and can be written by the current user.

npm doctor


This command will print all the packages and their versions that are installed, as well as their dependencies in a tree structure.

npm list


This command will prints the data about the package.

npm view <packagename> <versions>

If version is not specified, default version is 'latest'


This command helps with the mentioned topic. It shows the appropriate documentation page.
If the topic does not exist, or if multiple terms are provided, then npm will run the help-search command to find a match. If help-search finds a single subject, then it will run help on that topic, so unique matches are equivalent to specifying a topic name.

npm help <term>

Install/Update the package globally

This command will install or update the package globally in your local system.

npm install -g nodemon
npm update -g nodemon

-g specifes global. If -g is not specified, package will be installed in local by default which can't be accessed outside the project directory.

Install a package as production/development dependency

This command will install the package which will be available in the specified environment.

npm install -P <packagename> P for Production
npm install -D <packagename> D for Development


This command can convert an empty directory to an npm project by adding package.json file into it.

Also, you can add meta info of the project to the package.json file while creating it.

If you don't have package.json in a directory, and you trigger npm install moduleName at that directory path then module will be installed globally.

npm init or npm init -y


npm build and npm run build are entirely different.
npm run build - This command runs the build field from the package.json scripts field.
npm build - It is an internal command. If you run it you'll get: npm WARN build npm build called with no arguments. Did you mean to npm run-script build? You can read more on the documentation npm


This command runs a predefined command specified in the start property available inside scripts in the package.json file.

npm start


This command runs a predefined command specified in the stop property available inside scripts in the package.json file. Unlike start, there is no default script that will run if the stop property is not defined

npm stop <filename>

Thanks for reading this post. Have a great day. 馃檪

Discussion (4)

ppicom profile image
Pere Pic贸

I didn't know the difference between build and run build so thanks for that!

togakangaroo profile image
George Mauer

Possibly the most important command is ci
It's more correct to say that npm install, adds and upgrades dependencies. Npm ci tattooed what is in your lock file, which is what you want almost all other times.

Also very much worth knowing: the npx command

victorocna profile image
Victor Ocnarescu

Was browsing the comment section for npm ci. It really is one the most important commands.

beyarz profile image

npm commands every developer must know*
The majority of these commands are the basics for even using npm.