How to Change Node.js Version with NVM?

Let's say you are working on multiple projects with varying dependencies or your projects have specific compatibility requirements. Managing different Node.js versions has become frequent. App1 and App2, each requiring different Node.js versions, v10 and v12, respectively.

Initially, NVM is installed by following instructions from the official repository. Subsequently, the necessary Node.js versions are installed using NVM commands.

For App1, developers navigate to its directory and set the Node.js version to v10 with nvm use v10. After running App1, the focus shifts to App2, and the node  version is switched to v12 by executing nvm use v12 in its directory.

With the NVM command nvm use <version>, you can change your Node.js version for any application anytime you want, as many times as you want to change your node version.

This easiest shift of node versions facilitates smooth execution, and NVM's ability to switch node versions on a per-project basis is pivotal in addressing compatibility issues and ensuring seamless development across diverse projects with distinct version requirements. This approach offers flexibility and ease in handling the complexities associated with diverse project environments.

Table of Content:

What is NVM (Node Version Manager) ?

Node Version Manager (NVM) is a command-line tool designed for managing multiple Node.js versions on a single system. It let node.js developers easily switch between different node versions for their projects for better compatibility and flexibility.

With NVM, users can install, uninstall, and switch between Node.js versions with a simple command, providing a seamless way to adapt to varying project requirements.

This capability is particularly useful for developers working on projects that may rely on different Node.js versions, dependencies, or specific language features. NVM simplifies the management of Node.js environments.

Why Node.js developers need Node Version Manager?

Every Node.js developer needs Node Version Manager (NVM) as it provides a great and easier solution to manage and switch node versions seamlessly. You can install multiple Node.js versions on your machines and easily switch between them based on the requirements of specific projects.

  1. Project-specific Versioning: Different projects often have specific dependencies and requirements which is compatible with certain Node.js versions. By using NVM to set project-specific Node.js versions, you can ensure that each of your node project runs on the appropriate version, without conflicts and with a consistent development environment.
  2. Compatibility Testing: As we all know all applications need to be tested across different Node.js versions to make sure they work seamlessly in various environments, NVM simplifies this process by making the changing node versions effortlessly, for improved compatibility testing and debugging.
  3. LTS Stability and Security: Long-Term Support (LTS) versions of Node.js provide stability and security updates over an extended period, with projects benefit from ongoing support, bug fixes, and security patches.
  4. Avoiding System-level Installs: Installing Node.js globally on a system will require administrative permissions and can lead to potential permission issues. NVM manages Node.js versions without system-level installs, providing extensive control and an isolated development environment.
  5. Global Package Isolation: When working with different node.js versions, global npm packages can lead to conflicts, which is why NVM isolates global npm packages for each node.js version, letting packages installed globally are specific to the active version.
  6. Easier Updates and Rollbacks: Node.js updates may introduce new features or bug fixes, but they can also lead to compatibility issues with existing projects. NVM simplifies the process of updating or rolling back Node.js versions to adapt to changes or revert to a previous version if needed, maintaining flexibility and control over the development environment.

Steps to Change Node.js Version

Changing the Node.js version can be done using Node Version Manager (NVM) with just 4 steps, but you already looking for an installed node application, you can skip to the 4th step directly. Here are the steps to change the Node.js version:

Step 1: Install NVM (Node Version Manager)

Open your terminal, which is the command-line interface on your computer. You can typically find it by searching for "Terminal" or "Command Prompt" in your operating system.

a) Using curl:

curl -o- | bash

This command downloads the installation script for nvm from the specified URL and pipes it directly to the bash shell for execution. The script installs nvm on your system.


NVM using Curl
NVM using Curl

Alternatively, using wget:

wget -qO- | bash

If you prefer using wget instead of curl, this command achieves the same result. wget is another command-line tool for downloading files.

b) Restart Terminal or Source Configuration

After running the installation command, you need to either restart your terminal or reload the configuration files. This step is necessary to make the changes take effect.

c) Restart Terminal/Source Configuration:

Simply close the terminal window and open a new one, or if you don't want to restart the terminal, you can run the following command to source (load) the configuration files:

For Bash users:

source ~/.bashrc

For Zsh users:

source ~/.zshrc

This command reloads the configuration files (.bashrc or .zshrc) which contain environment settings to which the changes made by nvm during installation are applied.

Once you've completed these steps, you should have nvm installed on your system, and you can use it to manage different versions of Node.js.

Make sure you have curl or wget installed on your system. Most Unix-like systems come with one of these tools pre-installed.

The version number in the URLs (v0.39.0) may change over time as new versions of nvm are released. You can check the official nvm repository on GitHub for the latest version. Update the URL accordingly if there's a newer version available.

Step 2: Install Node.js using NVM

Once you have nvm (Node Version Manager) installed, you can use it to install a specific version of Node.js. Open your terminal and run the following command:

nvm install <latest_version>

Replace <latest_version> with the version number you want to install. For example:

nvm install 14.17.5

This command downloads and installs the specified version of Node.js on your system.

Use the Installed Version

To use the version of Node.js that you just installed, run the following command:

nvm use <version>

Replace <version> with the specific version number. For example:

nvm use 14.17.5

This command sets the currently active version of Node.js for the current shell session. If you open a new terminal window, you'll need to run nvm use <version> again to set the version for that session.

Step 3: Managing different Node.js versions

Let us look how to manage multiple Node.js versions and change node versions.

a) Set a Default Node.js Version

If you want to set a default Node.js version for future shell sessions, you can use the following command:

nvm alias default <version>

For example:

nvm alias default 14.15.3


Default NVM Version
Default NVM Version

This command sets the specified version as the default version of Node.js. Whenever you open a new terminal window or start a new shell session, nvm will automatically use the default version you've set.

b) Check Node.js Version

To verify that the Node.js version has been changed, run the following command:

node -v


Check node version
Check node version

This command prints out the currently active version of Node.js. If you've followed the steps correctly, it should display the version you installed and set as default.

These steps allow you to manage and switch between different versions of Node.js on your system using nvm.

c) Know what nvm node versions you have in your system.

nvm ls


List node versions with NVM
List node versions with NVM 

Step 4: Change to a specific version of Node

To switch to a specific Node.js version, you use the nvm use command followed by the version number you want to switch to.

nvm use <version>


Change node version
Change node version

In the example, nvm use 14 switches to node version 14.

Switching Between Major Versions:

If you only specify the major version without the minor and patch versions, NVM will automatically switch to the latest installed version within that major version.

nvm use <major_version>


Switch node version
Switch node version

For example, nvm use 16 switches to the latest installed Node.js version that starts with 16.


Without NVM, manually handling Node.js versions becomes a more cumbersome task, leading to potential compatibility issues and inefficiencies in the development workflow.

In essence, NVM is an important tool that empowers every Node.js developers to maintain a flexible and efficient development environment tailored to the specific version requirements of their projects.

Here is a NVM Cheatsheet, which makes your node version management more easier and simplier

Here are some installation and version changing NVM commands:

1. Install Node.js

nvm install 

2. Use a Specific Node.js Version

nvm use

3. Switch to the Latest Installed Node.js Version

nvm use <major_version>

4. List Installed Node.js Versions

nvm list

5. List Remote Node.js Versions

nvm ls-remote

6. Set Default Node.js Version

nvm alias default

7. List Available Node.js Versions for Installation

nvm list available

8. Uninstall a Node.js Version

nvm uninstall

9. Install Latest LTS (Long-Term Support) Version

nvm install --lts

10. Install Latest Node.js Release

nvm install node

11. Install Specific Architecture

nvm install  --arch

12. Install Node.js with a Custom Mirror

NVM_NODEJS_ORG_MIRROR=<mirror_url> nvm install 

13. Custom Node.js Binary

nvm install  --install-packages-from=

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