How to install Node.js using NVM on macOS M1

Published on Feb 6, 2022

4 min read

NODEJS

Updated on December 11, 2023

Node.js can be installed in different ways. I recently started working on an organization repository that requires using different Node.js versions. Using Node Version Manager (NVM) it is possible to switch between different Node.js versions on the fly. It also allows testing code with older Node.js versions.

NVM is a shell script used for installing and managing Node.js on a Unix based system. It allows switching between different versions of Node.js via the command line quickly. It also works with any POSIX shell such as zsh.

Prerequisites

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Make sure you have installed the following before proceeding:

Remove existing installed Node.js version

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This step is optional. If you haven't installed Node.js previously using Homebrew, skip this.

If you have an existing Node.js version installed, please remove it before installing NVM. For example, my machine already has a node version installed via Homebrew.

Open the terminal window and run:

brew uninstall --ignore-dependencies node
brew uninstall --force node

Install NVM via Homebrew

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Install NVM using Homebrew:

brew install nvm

After the above command runs, create a directory for NVM at the home working directory:

mkdir ~/.nvm

When using the zsh shell, add the following config inside ~/.zshrc:

export NVM_DIR="$HOME/.nvm"
[ -s "/opt/homebrew/opt/nvm/nvm.sh" ] && \. "/opt/homebrew/opt/nvm/nvm.sh" # This loads nvm
[ -s "/opt/homebrew/opt/nvm/etc/bash_completion.d/nvm" ] && \. "/opt/homebrew/opt/nvm/etc/bash_completion.d/nvm" # This loads nvm bash_completion

Now, either restart the terminal app or execute source ~/.zshrc to re-load the latest config for the zsh shell from the file.

Run the command nvm --version to verify. For example, if the config has loaded, this command would display a version.

Install Node.js via NVM

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Node.js is available in two different versions:

  • Long Term Support (LTS)
  • Current with latest features

Although I used to love using the Current version with the latest features on my personal machine, I use the LTS version for work. At the time of writing this post, the current LTS version is 16.

Running the command nvm install node would install the current version with the latest features.

To install the current LTS Node.js version, execute:

nvm install --lts

Then, verify the version by running:

node --version
# Output: v16.13.2

Multiple Node.js versions

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To install different versions of Node.js, you can run:

# nvm install Version-Number
nvm install 14

Use a specific Node.js version

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After installing multiple versions, use the command below to set a specific version as the default version and use it:

nvm use 16

Uninstall a Node.js version

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Before uninstalling a Node.js version, make sure it is not the active version or currently used version on the machine. Switch to a different version and then run the command:

nvm uninstall 14

List all installed Node.js versions

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To check for all the installed Node.js versions via nvm, run:

nvm ls

Set the latest Node.js version as the default

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To always set the latest Node.js version as the default in the shell, run:

nvm alias default node

Update to the latest version

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To update to the latest version nvm provides the following command:

nvm install --lts

After installing the latest version, to re-install any global packages installed with the previous version, run:

nvm reinstall-packages previous_version

Then, uninstall the previous Node.js version.


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Aman Mittal author

I'm a software developer and a technical writer. On this blog, I write about my learnings in software development and technical writing.

Currently, working as the documentation lead at 𝝠 Expo. Read more about me on the About page.


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