If you work on multiple Node.js projects, you’ve probably run into this one time or another. You have the latest and greatest version of Node.js installed, and the project you’re about to work on requires an older version. In those situations, the Node Version Manager (nvm) is a great tool to use, allowing you to install multiple versions of Node.js and switch between them as you see fit.
In this tutorial, you will install
nvm and learn to install, remove, and switch between different versions of Node.js.
To complete this tutorial, you will need the following:
To get started, you will need to install the Node Version Manager, or
nvm, on your system. You can install it manually by running the following command:
- curl -o- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/nvm-sh/nvm/v0.34.0/install.sh | bash
If you prefer
wget, you can run this command:
- wget -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/nvm-sh/nvm/v0.34.0/install.sh | bash
Once installed, close your terminal application for changes to take effect. You will also need to add a couple of lines to your bash shell startup file. This file might have the name
.zshrc depending on your operating system. To do this, reopen your terminal app and run the following commands:
- export NVM_DIR="$HOME/.nvm"
- [ -s "$NVM_DIR/nvm.sh" ] && \. "$NVM_DIR/nvm.sh"
- [ -s "$NVM_DIR/bash_completion" ] && \. "$NVM_DIR/bash_completion"
nvm installed, you can now install and work with multiple versions of Node.js.
Now that you have
nvm installed, you can install a few different versions of Node.js:
- nvm install 0.10
After running this command, this is the output that will display in your terminal app:
OutputDownloading and installing node v0.10.48... Downloading https://nodejs.org/dist/v0.10.48/node-v0.10.48-darwin-x64.tar.xz... ######################################################################### 100.0% Computing checksum with shasum -a 256 Checksums matched! Now using node v0.10.48 (npm v2.15.1)
You can also install Node version 8 and version 12:
- nvm install 8
- nvm install 12
Upon running each command,
nvm will download the version of Node.js from the official website and install it. Once installed, it will also set the version you just installed as the active version.
If you were to run
node --version after each of the aforementioned commands, you’d see the most recent version of the respective major version.
nvm isn’t limited to major versions either. You could also run
nvm install 12.0.0 to explicitly install the specific 12.0.0 version of Node.js.
With a handful of different versions of Node.js installed, we can run
nvm with the
ls argument to list out everything we have installed:
- nvm ls
The output produced by running this command might look something like this:
Outputv0.10.48 v4.9.1 v6.10.3 v6.14.4 v8.4.0 v8.10.0 v10.13.0 v10.15.0 v10.15.3 -> v12.0.0 v12.7.0 system default -> v10.15 (-> v10.15.3) node -> stable (-> v12.7.0) (default) stable -> 12.7 (-> v12.7.0) (default) iojs -> N/A (default) unstable -> N/A (default) lts/* -> lts/dubnium (-> N/A) lts/argon -> v4.9.1 lts/boron -> v6.17.1 (-> N/A) lts/carbon -> v8.16.0 (-> N/A) lts/dubnium -> v10.16.0 (-> N/A)
Your output will probably differ depending on how many versions of Node.js you have installed on your machine.
-> indicates the active version, and
default -> indicates the default version of Node.js. The default version of Node is the version that will be available when you open a new shell.
system corresponds with the version of Node.js installed outside of
nvm on your system.
You may want to change the version of Node.js that your machine defaults to. You can also use
nvm to accomplish this.
Even with juggling multiple versions, there’s a good chance you have one version that you would prefer to run the majority of the time. Often times, that would be the latest stable version of Node.js. During the time of the release of this tutorial, the latest stable version of Node.js is version 15.1.0.
To set the latest stable version as your default, run:
- nvm alias default stable
After running this command, this will be the output you see:
Outputdefault -> stable (-> v15.1.0)
You may also have a specific version number you would like to set as your default. To alias default to a specific version, run:
- nvm alias default 10.15
Outputdefault -> 10.15 (-> v10.15.3)
Now every time you open a new shell, that version of Node.js will be immediately available. Some work you do may require different versions of Node.js. This is something
nvm can help you with as well.
To switch to a different version of Node.js, use the
use followed by the version of Node.js you would like to use:
- nvm use 0.10
This is the output you will see:
OutputNow using node v0.10.48 (npm v2.15.1)
You can even switch back to your default version:
- nvm use default
At this point, you have installed several versions of Node.js. You can use
nvm to uninstall any unwanted version of Node.js you may have.
You may have several versions of Node.js installed due to working on a variety of projects on your machine.
Fortunately, you can remove Node.js versions just as easily as you installed them:
- nvm uninstall 0.10
This is the output that will display after running this command:
OutputUninstalled node v0.10.48
Unfortunately, when you specify a major or minor version,
nvm will only
uninstall the latest installed version that matches the version number.
So, if you have two different versions of Node.js version 6 installed, you have to run the
uninstall command for each version:
Output$ nvm uninstall 6 Uninstalled node v6.14.4 $ nvm uninstall 6 Uninstalled node v6.10.3
It’s worth noting that you can’t remove a version of Node.js that is currently in use and active.
You may want to return to your system’s default settings and stop using nvm. The next step will explain how to do this.
If you would like to completely remove
nvm from your machine, you can use the
- nvm unload
If you would still like to keep
nvm on your machine, but you want to return to your system’s installed version of Node.js, you can make the switch by running this command:
- nvm use system
Now your machine will return to the installed version of Node.js.
Working on multiple projects that use different versions of Node.js doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Node Version Manager makes the process seamless. If you would like to avoid having to remember to switch versions, you can take things a step further by creating a
.nvmrc file in your project’s root:
- $ echo "12" > .nvmrc
As a next step, you can learn to create your very own Node.js program with this How To Write and Run Your First Program in Node.js tutorial.
If you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and our broader community, consider checking out our DigitalOcean products which can also help you achieve your development goals.