How to use npm list for global packages

Node.js is a versatile platform that has taken the software development world by storm. With its vast ecosystem and npm (Node Package Manager), developers have access to countless packages that streamline and enhance coding projects. When using npm, you can install packages globally on your system, granting any Node.js project access to these packages. But how do you keep track of which global packages are installed? This is where the npm list -g command comes in handy.

In this article, we will explore how to list npm packages installed globally on your computer. We’ll delve into the command-line instructions, outline who this process is for, and answer your questions in a straightforward, SEO-friendly format. And for the eager learners, we’ll also touch upon the intricacies of npm list commands, version-specific behaviors, and additional flags that enhance its utility.

Learn more about npm and package management

Key Takeaways

  • npm is a package manager used to install, share, and manage library dependencies in Node.js projects.
  • npm list -g or npm ls -g is the command to list globally installed npm packages.
  • As of npm version 7, the npm list command will hide the dependencies of installed packages by default to declutter the output.
  • The –depth=0 flag is useful for listing top-level global packages without their dependencies in versions of npm prior to 7.
  • To list globally installed npm packages in a custom location, use the –prefix flag with the npm list command.

What is npm list global packages?

For those wondering, “What is npm list global packages?” it’s a command that allows you to view all npm packages that are installed on a system-wide level, as opposed to those installed in an individual project’s node_modules directory. These global packages are usually utility tools or commands that are meant to be used across multiple projects.

Step-by-Step Guide to npm List Global Packages


  • Ensure that Node.js and npm are installed on your machine by running node -v and npm -v in your command line.

Listing Global Packages:

  1. Open your terminal or command prompt — it’s where you input npm commands.
  2. Type the listing command — enter npm list -g to see all globally installed packages.
  3. Read the output — the terminal will display a tree structure listing the global packages and their locations.

Additional Flags:

  • View top-level packages only: npm list -g --depth=0 for npm versions 6 and below.
  • Include dependencies in the list: Add the --all flag if you’re using npm version 7 and wish to see dependencies.
  • Custom locations: If packages are in a custom location (you’ll know if you’ve set it yourself), use npm list -g --prefix /custom/path.

By following these simple steps, you can easily identify what tools you have at your disposal globally via npm.

Who is npm list global packages for?

This command and its knowledge are primarily for developers and system administrators working with Node.js environments. It helps them:

  • Track installed tools: Keep an overview of their global node tools and utilities.
  • Maintain system hygiene: Clean up unwanted packages and manage disk space.
  • Ensure consistent development environments: Verify that the necessary tools are available globally across projects.

In short, if you’re involved in software development or server maintenance that relies upon Node.js, knowing how to list global npm packages is a valuable skill.


To recap, the npm list -g command is a straightforward yet powerful tool for managing your global Node.js packages. With the knowledge of this command and its flags, developers and system administrators can have better control over their development environments. Practice these commands, understand the structure of your global packages, and embrace the convenience they bring to your workflow.