n – Interactively Manage Your Node.js Versions
Node.js version management: no subshells, no profile setup, no convoluted API, just simple.
n– Interactively Manage Your Node.js Versions
n is supported on macOS, Linux, including with Windows Subsystem for Linux, and various other unix-like systems.
It is written as a BASH script but does not require you to use BASH as your command shell.
n does not work in native shells on Microsoft Windows (like PowerShell), or Git for Windows BASH, or with the Cygwin DLL.
If you already have Node.js installed, an easy way to install
n is using
npm install -g n
The default root location used when running
/usr/local where a normal user does not have write permission. You may strike the same sort of permission error when using npm to install global modules, like the above command. You have three main options:
- change the ownership of the relevant directories to yourself (see below)
nto use a custom location where you do have write permissions (see
sudoin front of the command to run it as super user
n caches Node.js versions in subdirectory
n/versions. The active Node.js version is installed in subdirectories
To take ownership of the system directories (option 1):
# make cache folder (if missing) and take ownership
sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/n
sudo chown -R $(whoami) /usr/local/n
# make sure the required folders exist (safe to execute even if they already exist)
sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/bin /usr/local/lib /usr/local/include /usr/local/share
# take ownership of Node.js install destination folders
sudo chown -R $(whoami) /usr/local/bin /usr/local/lib /usr/local/include /usr/local/share
npm is not yet available, one way to bootstrap an install is to download and run
n directly. To install the
lts version of Node.js:
curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/tj/n/master/bin/n | bash -s lts
# If you want n installed, you can use npm now.
npm install -g n
Alternatively, you can clone this repo and
which defaults to
/usr/local/bin/n. To install
n in a custom location such as
PREFIX=$CUSTOM_LOCATION make install.
Third Party Installers
brew install n
port install n
On Linux and macOS, n-install allows installation directly from GitHub; for instance:
curl -L https://bit.ly/n-install | bash
n-install sets both
$HOME/n/bin, modifies the initialization files of supported shells to export
N_PREFIX and add
$HOME/n/bin to the
PATH, and installs the latest LTS Node.js version.
As a result, both
n itself and all Node.js versions it manages are hosted inside a single, optionally configurable directory, which you can later remove with the included
n itself to the latest version. See the n-install repo for more details.
Installing Node.js Versions
n <version> to download and install a version of Node.js. If
<version> has already been downloaded,
n will install from its cache.
n on its own to view your downloaded versions, and install the selected version.
Use up/down arrow keys to select a version, return key to install, d to delete, q to quit
(You can also use j and k to select next or previous version instead of using arrows, or ctrl+n and ctrl+p.)
If the active node version does not change after install, try opening a new shell in case seeing a stale version.
Specifying Node.js Versions
There are a variety of ways of specifying the target Node.js version for
n commands. Most commands use the latest matching version, and
n ls-remote lists multiple matching versions.
Numeric version numbers can be complete or incomplete, with an optional leading
8: 8.x.y versions
v6.1: 6.1.x versions
There are labels for two especially useful versions:
lts: newest Long Term Support official release
current: newest official release
There is an
auto label to read the target version from a file in the current directory, or any parent directory.
n looks for in order:
.n-node-version: version on single line. Custom to
.node-version: version on single line. Used by multiple tools: node-version-usage
.nvmrc: version on single line. Used by
- if no version file found, look for
engine label looks for a
package.json file and reads the
engines field to determine compatible Node.js. Requires an installed version of
node, and uses
npx semver to resolve complex ranges.
There is support for the named release streams:
carbon: codenames for LTS release streams
These Node.js support aliases may be used, although simply resolve to the latest matching version:
The last version form is for specifying other releases available using the name of the remote download folder optionally followed by the complete or incomplete version.
Remove some cached versions:
n rm 0.9.4 v0.10.0
Removing all cached versions except the installed version:
Remove the installed Node.js (does not affect the cached versions). This can be useful to revert to the system version of node (if in a different location), or if you no longer wish to use node and npm, or are switching to a different way of managing them.
Using Downloaded Node.js Versions Without Reinstalling
There are three commands for working directly with your downloaded versions of Node.js, without reinstalling.
You can show the path to the downloaded
$ n which 6.14.3
Or run a downloaded
node version with the
n run command:
n run 8.11.3 --debug some.js
Or execute a command with
PATH modified so
npm will be from the downloaded Node.js version.
npm run this way will be using global node_modules from the target node version folder.)
n exec 10 my-script --fast test
n exec lts zsh
A Node.js install normally also includes
corepack, but you may wish to preserve your current (especially newer) versions using
$ npm install -g npm@latest
$ npm --version
# Node.js 8.17.0 includes (older) npm 6.13.4
$ n -p 8
installed : v8.17.0
$ npm --version
You can make this the default by setting the environment variable to a non-empty string. There are separate environment variables for
You can be explicit to get the desired behaviour whatever the environment variables:
n --preserve nightly
n --no-preserve latest
Command line help can be obtained from
List matching remote versions available for download:
n ls-remote lts
n ls-remote latest
n lsr 10
n --all lsr
List downloaded versions in cache:
n to access cached versions (already downloaded) without internet available.
n --offline 12
Display diagnostics to help resolve problems:
If you would like to use a different Node.js mirror which has the same layout as the default https://nodejs.org/dist/, you can define
The most common example is from users in China who can define:
If the custom mirror requires authentication you can add the url-encoded username and password into the URL. e.g.
There is also
N_NODE_DOWNLOAD_MIRROR for a different mirror with same layout as the default https://nodejs.org/download.
n picks the binaries matching your system architecture. For example, on a 64 bit system
n will download 64 bit binaries.
On a Mac with Apple silicon:
- for Node.js 16 and higher,
ndefaults to arm64 binaries which run natively
- for older versions of Node.js,
ndefaults to x64 binaries which run in Rosetta 2
You can override the default architecture by using the
e.g. reinstall latest version of Node.js with x64 binaries:
n rm current
n --arch x64 current
Optional Environment Variables
n command downloads and installs to
/usr/local by default, but you may override this location by defining
To change the location to say
$HOME/.n, add lines like the following to your shell initialization file:
If you want to store the downloads under a different location, use
N_CACHE_PREFIX. This does not affect the currently active
n defaults to using xz compressed Node.js tarballs for the download if it is likely tar on the system supports xz decompression.
You can override the automatic choice by setting an environment variable to zero or non-zero:
export N_USE_XZ=0 # to disable
export N_USE_XZ=1 # to enable
You can be explicit to get the desired behaviour whatever the environment variable:
n install --use-xz nightly
n install --no-use-xz latest
N_NODE_MIRROR: See Custom source
N_NODE_DOWNLOAD_MIRROR: See Custom source
- support for NO_COLOR and CLICOLOR=0 for controlling use of ANSI color codes
N_MAX_REMOTE_MATCHESto change the default
ls-remotemaximum of 20 matching versions
N_PRESERVE_NPM: See Preserving npm
N_PRESERVE_COREPACK: See Preserving npm
How It Works
n downloads a prebuilt Node.js package and installs to a single prefix (e.g.
/usr/local). This overwrites the previous version. The
bin folder in this location should be in your
The downloads are kept in a cache folder to be used for reinstalls. The downloads are also available for limited use using
n which and
n run and
npm packages are not changed by the install, with the
npm itself which is part of the Node.js install.