Fix the “npm command not found” error in Windows, macOS & Linux

fix npm command not found
fix npm command not found

There are many Node.js users who encounter the ‘npm command not found‘ error in their projects. This error typically occurs due to improper installation of the npm repository. Npm stands for Node Package Manager and it helps JavaScript developers to focus on the code instead of other tedious and repetitive details.

But facing the npm command not found error can be really frustrating and hence in this article, I am going to show you how you can fix the ‘npm command not found‘ error in your PC.

Be it Windows, macOS, or Linux, I’ll be covering all three Operating Systems so that you can get rid of this error.

Causes of the “npm command not found” error

Even though the error occurs on every major Operating System, the causes of the error remain particularly the same. There can be a number of possible reasons for the emergence of the ‘npm command not found‘ error. Some of the most common reasons are:

  • npm package manager not installed on the OS: In Windows, when you install Node.js, npm should automatically be installed with it. However, in instances like when you go with a custom installation of Node.js, there are chances that you didn’t select the npm package manager. Talking about the Linux distributions, the npm package manager doesn’t install automatically and hence you can face the ‘npm command not found’ error there as well.
  • Incorrect setting of the PATH and system variables: When the PATH and system variables are not set correctly during the installation, an error can occur in such a case. This happens when you didn’t select ‘Add to PATH’ during custom installation.
  • Node.js is outdated: The outdated Node.js can also cause the npm package manager to not work properly.
  • Lack of permission: Mostly in macOS and Linux, there is a need to adjust the permissions for your npm directory. Permission issues can easily prevent the npm command to be executed.

How to fix the “npm command not found” error on Windows

Windows is one of the most widely used PC OS and hence we will start the fixing tutorial with Windows.

1. Check if Node.js and npm are installed properly

Before doing anything in the name of troubleshooting, first, make sure that the Node.js and npm packages are installed properly. If not, then install them.

1. Search PowerShell and run it as administrator.

2. Now, run the following two commands and see if they are giving proper version numbers:

node -v
npm -v

If both the commands are reporting version numbers, then the Node.js and npm packages are installed on the system. If there is an error after executing the commands, then you may need to download the installer for Windows.

Run it and install both packages by following the on-screen instructions. Choosing the automatic installation while running the installer will be a good option instead of going with a custom installation.

2. Check PATH and system variables

As discussed, if PATH and system variable is not set correctly, the error is very obvious to occur. For that, check the PATH and system variables for Node.js. Here’s how to do that:

1. Search environment variable and open Edit the system environment variables from the search results.

2. Go to the Advanced tab and click on Environment Variables… option.

3. In the System variables section, click on Path and then Edit…

4. Look for the C:\Program Files\nodejs. If this path exists then you are well and good. But if it’s not there, then you’ll have to create one.

5. To create a new path, click on New, input a variable name and for the Variable value, enter C:\Program Files\nodejs.

6. Finally, click OK.

3. Update Node.js

If the above two fixes are not applicable in your case, then you may need to update Node.js to the latest version.

1. Search for PowerShell and run it as administrator.

2. Now run the following commands in PowerShell to update Node.js and npm:

Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted -Scope CurrentUser -Force

3. This will update your Node.js and npm packages. You can type node -v to check the version of Node.js to check if there is a newer version is installed or not.

How to fix the “npm command not found” error on Linux

Many of the developers used Linux for coding and development purposes. There are many Linux distributions out there but Ubuntu is one of the most used ones. And if you are facing the ‘npm command not found‘ error in your Linux-based Ubuntu machine, here are the fixes to it.

Fix 1: Install Node.js and npm packages

Installing Nocde.js and npm on Ubuntu is quite simple and consists of a couple of commands to execute. Here’s the step-by-step guide on how to install Node.js and npm on Linux-based Ubuntu.

1. Press Ctrl+Alt+T to open a terminal window. You can also go to the Activities menu and search for the terminal.

2. Type the following commands:

sudo apt update

sudo apt install nodejs npm

3. This will start the installation of Node.js and npm. To verify the installation, type node -version and npm -version commands to check the version.

2. Check PATH and system variables

Now you have made it confirmed that Node.js and npm are installed on your machine, and if the issue is still there then you should verify the PATH and system variables.

1. Press Ctrl+Alt+T to open a terminal window.

2. Enter the command: which npm to check the path of npm commands. It should result in something like /usr/bin/npm.

3. Now you’ll have to check if the /etc/environment file is also resulting in the same path as the npm command resulted. For this, run the command cat/etc/environment.

4. If it results in the same path value then you are fine. If not, then you need to add the npm path.

5. Enter vi /etc/enviroment to edit the /etc/environment file.

6. Now, you need to add a colon and the npm path from the 2nd step at the end of the environmental file. The path file should have an ending with the term ‘bin’ and also make sure that the path is before the end of the quotes.

7. Finally, enter source /etc/environment to reload the file with the changes.

3. Grant User Permissions

Linux gives full access to its users to manage the permissions for applications. This is why there are chances that your Node.js and npm are lacking permission. Here’s how to fix the permission issue:

1. Press Ctrl+Alt+T to open a terminal window.

2. Enter the following command: sudo chown -R $(whoami):admin /usr/local/lib/node_modules/ to grant permission.

3. Now run an npm command and see if the issue persists.

4. Update Node.js

Updating the Node.js to the latest version will make sure that there are no incompatibility issues. Here’s how to update Node.js in Ubuntu:

1. Open a terminal by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T on the keyboard.

2. Run the following command: sudo npm cache clean -f to clear the cache.

3. Now, enter the follwoing command: sudo npm install [email protected] -g

4. This will start the updating process. You can check the version by entering the command npm -version.

How to fix the “npm command not found” error in macOS

Apple Mac computers are also used widely for coding and development. Hence you can also experience the npm command not found error on your Apple PC running macOS. So, here are the fixes to this issue in macOS.

1. Install Node.js and npm

Installing Node.js and npm using Homebrew is really very simple and hence I strongly recommend you to have Homebrew on your Mac. Here is how to install Homebrew as well as Node.js and npm on your Mac.

1. Open Terminal from the Launchpad by going to the Dock.

2. Type the following commands to install Homebrew: /bin/bash -c “$(curl -fsSL”

3. Now, enter the following commands:

brew update

brew install node

4. This will install both Homebrew, Node.js, and npm on your Mac. You can verify the installation by executing the node -v and npm -v commands in the terminal.

Now check if the npm command not found error is gone. If you are not comfortable with the installation via the command line, you can use the Node.js installer for macOS.

2. Check PATH and system variables

To check the PATH and system variables follow these steps:

1. Open terminal from the launchpad in the Dock.

2. Enter the command echo $PATH to see your PATH variable.

3. Now type-in npm get prefix and see if the resultant path is the same as the previous one. Most likely the /usr/local/bin will be the common path as the resultant.

4. If the prefix is not found in the PATH variable, there is need to set it. To set the PATH run the following command:

xport PATH=”[prefix]/bin:$PATH” >> ~/.bash_profile.

Make sure to replace [prefix] with the value that you got after executing the npm get prefix command in the 3rd step.

5. Finally, enter the following command: source ~/.bash_profile

Now check if the ‘npm command not found’ error is fixed or not.

3. Grant User Permissions

Like Linux distributions, macOS is also permission conscious. Hence you may have to make sure that the proper permissions are granted.

1. Open Terminal from the Launchpad.

2. Type the command sudo chown -R $(whoami):admin /usr/local/lib/node_modules/ and hit enter.

Now, try to run an npm command to check if the issue is resolved.

4. Update Node.js and npm

If you have installed Homebrew to get the Node.js and npm then updating them will be really very simple.

However, if you don’t have Homebrew or any other package manager like NVM or N, you can head over to the Node.js website to get the latest installer for macOS.

For Homebrew users, open Terminal and run the brew update node command. To verify the updates, run node -v, and npm -v commands.

So, these were the fixes to the ‘npm command not found‘ error. The whole article has been divided into three sections, discussing the fixes to the issue for Windows, macOS, and Linux. This error can be a major pain for the app developers and coders as the unavailability of the npm will lead to inaccessibility to the libraries for Node.js, increasing the time in coding simple features.

I hope this tutorial was helpful for you. If it was, then please consider sharing it with the needy ones in your circle. Also, share your questions and suggestions with me in the comments below. I’ll surely take them into my account.

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Posted by
Bhanu Pratap

Hi! I am Bhanu Pratap, co-founder of Yorker Media Group. A die-heart fan of tech and keeps track of every little happening of the same. When not writing, I usually keep myself busy on YouTube making and exploring new and awesome tech content.


  1. Helped! Thanks.

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