Useful NPM Tips and Tricks for Developers to Boost Productivity

This is a collection of useful npm tips and tricks that every developer should know. Learn how to automate tasks, check for vulnerabilities, manage dependencies, and more, to increase your productivity and efficiency.

NPM, short for Node Package Manager, is a widely-used tool for managing JavaScript packages in a project. It allows developers to install and update packages, as well as manage dependencies and scripts. NPM comes bundled with Node.js, so if you have Node installed on your machine, you automatically have access to NPM as well.

NPM Tips and Tricks

npm Commands You Should Know

This is not a tutorial for learning npm, the official docs are a good place to get started, but a collection of tips and tricks that will help you do more with the npm utility. Whether you’re a seasoned developer or just starting out, these tips can help you be more efficient and productive in your work with npm.

Instantly run packages without installing

The NPM registry is a treasure trove for finding packages that do useful stuff and they aren’t just for programmers.

For instance, the speed-test package shows the speed of your internet connection. The emoj package helps you search for emojis from the terminal. And the wifi-passwords package can help you find the password of your current WiFi network.

You can run these utility packages directly from the command line using the npx command.

npx speed-test
npx emoj unicorn
npx public-ip-cli
npx wifi-password-cli

Get package details

Use the npm view command to get details of any npm package, including the repository URL, the dependencies and the date when the package was last updated.

npm view eslint

Install npm packages faster

You’ve probably used npm install to install packages, and dependencies, in the local node_modules folder of a project. Replace this command with npm-ci and you’ll be able to install packages significantly faster.

npm ci

If a node_modules folder is already present, it will be automatically removed before npm ci begins to install packages.

Recover space

If you have been working with npm packages for some time, the various node_modules folders on the disks could be consuming several gigabytes of space. The very useful npkill finds all node_modules folders on your system and lets you delete them interactively.

npx npkill

Quickly download a Git repository

Most developers use the git clone command to download a Git repository. However, this also downloads the entire git history making the process slower. The degit package can download the latest commit to the master branch locally and you need not specify the full Github URL.

npx degit username/repo
npx degit labnol/apps-script-starter

List installed packages

Generate a list of all npm packages that are installed on the system with global scope. Remove the -g flag to list only packages installed in the current project directory.

npm ls --depth=0
npm ls -g

Find unused dependencies

The depcheck command will list all the npm packages that are not used in the project based on the dependencies in package.json.

npx depcheck

Use the command npm uninstall <package-name> to uninstall any unused package.

Find unused source files

The unimported package will find all the unused files and dependencies in your JavaScript / TypeScript projects.

npx unimported

Find outdated dependencies

Get a list of all outdated packages in your current project. This command checks every single module listed in the package.json file and compares it with the latest version available in the NPM registry.

Add the -g flag to get all outdated packages that are installed globally on the system.

npm outdated
npm outdated -g

Update the package versions

The npm outdated command will list all packages in your current project that are outdated and a newer version is available. Add the -g flag to list outdated packages that are installed in the global scope.

The ncu command will update the package.json file with the latest version of the packages listed in the dependencies and devDependencies sections.

Or use the npm-check -u command to update packages to their latest version in interactive mode.

npm outdated
npm outdated -g
npm-check -u
ncu -u

Remove extra packages

Use the prune command to remove all packages that are installed locally but not listed in the package.json file. If the —dry-run flag is used then no changes will be made.

npm prune

Alternatively, you can remove the node_modules folder and run npm ci again.

Find vulnerable packages

Run the audit command to check for vulnerabilities in the packages listed in the dependencies and devDependencies sections. Add the fix flag to automatically apply the fixes, if any.

npm audit
npm audit fix

Useful NPM Package Websites

  • - Upload your package.json file and get an idea of how much it would cost (size-wise) to install the dependencies.
  • - Compare any two versions of a npm package and know which files have changed in the update.
  • - Compare the relative popularity of packages across the npm registry based on the number of downloads.
Amit Agarwal

Amit Agarwal

Google Developer Expert, Google Cloud Champion

Amit Agarwal is a Google Developer Expert in Google Workspace and Google Apps Script. He holds an engineering degree in Computer Science (I.I.T.) and is the first professional blogger in India.

Amit has developed several popular Google add-ons including Mail Merge for Gmail and Document Studio. Read more on Lifehacker and YourStory


Awards & Titles

Digital Inspiration has won several awards since it's launch in 2004.

Google Developer Expert

Google Developer Expert

Google awarded us the Google Developer Expert award recogizing our work in Google Workspace.

ProductHunt Golden Kitty

ProductHunt Golden Kitty

Our Gmail tool won the Lifehack of the Year award at ProductHunt Golden Kitty Awards in 2017.

Microsoft MVP Alumni

Microsoft MVP Alumni

Microsoft awarded us the Most Valuable Professional (MVP) title for 5 years in a row.

Google Cloud Champion

Google Cloud Champion

Google awarded us the Champion Innovator title recognizing our technical skill and expertise.

Email Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter to stay up to date.

We will never send any spam emails. Promise.