How to Install Nodejs and npm on Mac or Linux

4 minute read


Node.js is a run-time environment used for executing JavaScript outside the browser. Npm is a JavaScript package manager commonly used for installing packages for Node.js.

In this article, you will learn how to install Node.js and npm on Mac or Linux. You will also learn how to verify the installation, run Node.js code, and how to update Node.js and npm.

When you’re finished, you’ll be able to run Node.js code on Mac or Linux computer.


To follow this tutorial successfully, you’ll need the following:

  • Internet access to download Node.js.
  • Basic knowledge of how to use the terminal.

Step 1 — Install Node.js and npm on Mac or Linux

There are a couple of ways to install Node.js on Mac or Linux. The most recommended method and also my favorite method to install Node.js and npm is to use Node Version Manager(nvm).

Using nvm has the following benefits:

  • It allows you to install multiple versions of Node.js.
  • It makes it easy to switch between the versions.
  • Updating node.js is a breeze with nvm.

So let’s now install nvm. Copy and paste the command below into your terminal.

curl -o- | bash

Info: If your on Mac, open your ~/.bash_profile or create a new one if the ~/.bash_profile file does not exist. Make sure you add source ~/.bashrc in the file and save.

Now let’s verify if nvm was installed successfully.

nvm --version

Your terminal should display the current version of nvm. At the time of writing, the current version is 0.35.2. So this is the output I got.

stanley@hostname:~$ nvm --version

Note: On Linux, if you get nvm: command not found or no feedback, close your terminal and open a new terminal and enter the nvm --version again. If you using ssh to access linux, you might need to restart your session.

Tip: On Mac, if you are having any issues with the nvm command not working, check out this link

Lets now install Node using nvm’s install command.

nvm install node

Once installed, set the installed version as the default.

nvm alias default node

Info: You need to set the default version because nvm forgets the node version in a new terminal session. You can learn more about the issue here.

Step 2 — Verify Node.js and npm installation

Verify if Node.js and npm were successfully installed.

Type node -v. It will display the current Node.js version.

node -v

Type npm -v to display the current npm version.

npm -v

Your output should look similar to mine. Note that the versions will be different since you might be reading this tutorial when new versions came out.

stanley@hostname:~$ node -v
stanley@hostname:~$ npm -v

Running Node.js Code on Mac or Linux

There are two ways to run Node.Js code:

  • Node.js REPL
  • Running Node.js scripts on the terminal

Node.js REPL

REPL stands for Read-Evaluate-Print-Loops. It is an interactive shell that allows experimentation of JavaScript code. It works the same way as the web browser console.

To access the Node REPL, type node in the terminal.


The REPL prompt will be opened where you can enter the JavaScript code.

Welcome to Node.js v13.8.0.
Type ".help" for more information.

The > sign is there to let you know that the code entered will be immediately evaluated when you press enter.

stanley@hostname:~$ node 
Welcome to Node.js v13.8.0.
Type ".help" for more information.
> var name = "stanley";
> name
> var result = 3 + 8;
> console.log(result);

To exit out of the REPL, type .exit or press CTRL+D once. You can also exit out by pressing CTRL+C twice.

Running Node.js Scripts on the Terminal

This method is the one that is commonly used to run Node. You will write Node.js code in a file with an extension of .js and run it in the terminal using the node command.

Let’s see this in action by creating a directory named node.js in our home directory.

mkdir nodejs

mkdir is a command used for creating directories

Let’s go into the nodejs directory.

cd nodejs

Your terminal should now show you are in the node.js directory.

<your username>@hostname:~/nodejs$ 

Create a file first-program.js. For simplicity’s sake, we will use Nano which is a terminal text editor.

nano first-program.js

Enter the following code in first-program.js in the Nano editor.

var name = 'Stanley';

function sayHello(){
    console.log('hello', name);


Hold CTRL+O and then press enter to save the file.

Exit out of the editor by holding CTRL+X.

Let’s now run the code in first-program.js:

node first-program.js

Your output should look like below.

<your username>@hostname:~/node$ node first-program.js 
hello Stanley

I hope you have understood how to run Node.js code on your Mac or Linux system.

Next, we are going to learn how to update Node.js and npm using nvm.

How to Update Node.js and npm using nvm

To update to the latest version Node.js and npm. Type the following:

nvm install node --latest-npm --reinstall-packages-from=node

To update to the latest LTS(Long Term Support) version. Type the following:

nvm install --lts --latest-npm --reinstall-packages-from='lts/*'


In this article, you learned how to install and update Node.js and npm on Mac or Linux. We also looked at different ways on how to run Node.js code. I hope you are now confident to run Node.js scripts on your computer on your Mac or Linux computer.

If you have any insights or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.