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Automatically Remove All Unused Imports in a TypeScript Project

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The Problem

Recently, I had a need arise to programatically and recursively traverse through all *.ts files in a given project and remove all unused TypeScript imports. At the time this article was written, there was no way to do this within Visual Studio Code without opening each individual *.ts file and hitting CTRL + Shift + O on Windows/Linux. After some research, and much appreciated help from Twitter colleagues, I found a solution that works. This should work for Angular, React, Vue.js, or any plain TypeScript project.

The Solution

We will use the tslint command line tool, in conjuction with a the tslint-etc rules, to automatically detect and remove all unused imports in the directory, recursively. If you have a large project, the process can take some time to run. It is important to double-check all files for correctness once the fix process is complete.

Install Required Tools

Install the follow node packages required to for this process to work.

$ npm install -g typescript tslint tslint-etc
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Create a temporary tslint config file

Create a new file named tslint-imports.json in the root of your project. This creates a hyper-focused tslint process that will only check for unused declarations. It is important to note that this will throw tslint errors on unused imports, parameters and variables. We are only using this for the --fix process. As such, the tslint-etc rules only autofix unused imports.

This file needs the following contents:

  "extends": [
  "rules": {
    "no-unused-declaration": true
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Run the autofix process

The following command will traverse, recursively through all *.ts files in the project and remove the unused imports. It save the files automatically in place.

BE CAREFUL! This process is only reversible if you are using a source control solution like git or svn, where you can revert changes.

$ tslint --config tslint-imports.json --fix --project .
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Double-Check Your Files

At this point, I would highly recommend you double-check your files for correctness. This tool worked on all but 2 of my 195 *.ts files. Two of the components were incorrectly updated. I was able to spot this by running an ng build --prod as it was an Angular application. You could run a manual tslint --project . if your project doesn't use a build tool.


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