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ShellJS - Unix shell commands for Node.js

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ShellJS is a portable (Windows/Linux/macOS) implementation of Unix shell
commands on top of the Node.js API. You can use it to eliminate your shell
script's dependency on Unix while still keeping its familiar and powerful
commands. You can also install it globally so you can run it from outside Node
projects - say goodbye to those gnarly Bash scripts!

ShellJS is proudly tested on every node release since <!-- start minVersion -->v8<!-- stop minVersion -->!

The project is unit-tested and battle-tested in projects like:

If you have feedback, suggestions, or need help, feel free to post in our issue

Think ShellJS is cool? Check out some related projects in our Wiki

Upgrading from an older version? Check out our breaking
page to see
what changes to watch out for while upgrading.

Command line use

If you just want cross platform UNIX commands, checkout our new project
shelljs/shx, a utility to expose shelljs to
the command line.

For example:

$ shx mkdir -p foo
$ shx touch foo/bar.txt
$ shx rm -rf foo

Plugin API

ShellJS now supports third-party plugins! You can learn more about using plugins
and writing your own ShellJS commands in the

A quick note about the docs

For documentation on all the latest features, check out our
README. To read docs that are consistent
with the latest release, check out the npm


Via npm:

$ npm install [-g] shelljs


var shell = require('shelljs');

if (!shell.which('git')) {
  shell.echo('Sorry, this script requires git');

// Copy files to release dir
shell.rm('-rf', 'out/Release');
shell.cp('-R', 'stuff/', 'out/Release');

// Replace macros in each .js file'lib');'*.js').forEach(function (file) {
  shell.sed('-i', 'BUILD_VERSION', 'v0.1.2', file);
  shell.sed('-i', /^.*REMOVE_THIS_LINE.*$/, '', file);
  shell.sed('-i', /.*REPLACE_LINE_WITH_MACRO.*\n/,'macro.js'), file);

// Run external tool synchronously
if (shell.exec('git commit -am "Auto-commit"').code !== 0) {
  shell.echo('Error: Git commit failed');

Exclude options

If you need to pass a parameter that looks like an option, you can do so like:

shell.grep('--', '-v', 'path/to/file'); // Search for "-v", no grep options

shell.cp('-R', '-dir', 'outdir'); // If already using an option, you're done

Global vs. Local

We no longer recommend using a global-import for ShellJS (i.e.
require('shelljs/global')). While still supported for convenience, this
pollutes the global namespace, and should therefore only be used with caution.

Instead, we recommend a local import (standard for npm packages):

var shell = require('shelljs');
shell.echo('hello world');

Command reference

All commands run synchronously, unless otherwise stated.
All commands accept standard bash globbing characters (*, ?, etc.),
compatible with the node glob module.

For less-commonly used commands and features, please check out our wiki

cat([options,] file [, file ...])

cat([options,] file_array)

Available options:


var str = cat('file*.txt');
var str = cat('file1', 'file2');
var str = cat(['file1', 'file2']); // same as above

Returns a ShellString containing the given file, or a
concatenated string containing the files if more than one file is given (a
new line character is introduced between each file).


Changes to directory dir for the duration of the script. Changes to home
directory if no argument is supplied. Returns a
ShellString to indicate success or failure.

chmod([options,] octal_mode || octal_string, file)

chmod([options,] symbolic_mode, file)

Available options:


chmod(755, '/Users/brandon');
chmod('755', '/Users/brandon'); // same as above
chmod('u+x', '/Users/brandon');
chmod('-R', 'a-w', '/Users/brandon');

Alters the permissions of a file or directory by either specifying the
absolute permissions in octal form or expressing the changes in symbols.
This command tries to mimic the POSIX behavior as much as possible.
Notable exceptions:

Returns a ShellString indicating success or failure.

cp([options,] source [, source ...], dest)

cp([options,] source_array, dest)

Available options:


cp('file1', 'dir1');
cp('-R', 'path/to/dir/', '~/newCopy/');
cp('-Rf', '/tmp/*', '/usr/local/*', '/home/tmp');
cp('-Rf', ['/tmp/*', '/usr/local/*'], '/home/tmp'); // same as above

Copies files. Returns a ShellString indicating success
or failure.

pushd([options,] [dir | '-N' | '+N'])

Available options:



// process.cwd() === '/usr'
pushd('/etc'); // Returns /etc /usr
pushd('+1');   // Returns /usr /etc

Save the current directory on the top of the directory stack and then cd to dir. With no arguments, pushd exchanges the top two directories. Returns an array of paths in the stack.

popd([options,] ['-N' | '+N'])

Available options:



echo(process.cwd()); // '/usr'
pushd('/etc');       // '/etc /usr'
echo(process.cwd()); // '/etc'
popd();              // '/usr'
echo(process.cwd()); // '/usr'

When no arguments are given, popd removes the top directory from the stack and performs a cd to the new top directory. The elements are numbered from 0, starting at the first directory listed with dirs (i.e., popd is equivalent to popd +0). Returns an array of paths in the stack.

dirs([options | '+N' | '-N'])

Available options:


Display the list of currently remembered directories. Returns an array of paths in the stack, or a single path if +N or -N was specified.

See also: pushd, popd

echo([options,] string [, string ...])

Available options:


echo('hello world');
var str = echo('hello world');
echo('-n', 'no newline at end');

Prints string to stdout, and returns a ShellString.

exec(command [, options] [, callback])

Available options:


var version = exec('node --version', {silent:true}).stdout;

var child = exec('some_long_running_process', {async:true});
child.stdout.on('data', function(data) {
  /* ... do something with data ... */

exec('some_long_running_process', function(code, stdout, stderr) {
  console.log('Exit code:', code);
  console.log('Program output:', stdout);
  console.log('Program stderr:', stderr);

Executes the given command synchronously, unless otherwise specified.
When in synchronous mode, this returns a ShellString.
Otherwise, this returns the child process object, and the callback
receives the arguments (code, stdout, stderr).

Not seeing the behavior you want? exec() runs everything through sh
by default (or cmd.exe on Windows), which differs from bash. If you
need bash-specific behavior, try out the {shell: 'path/to/bash'} option.

Security note: as shell.exec() executes an arbitrary string in the
system shell, it is critical to properly sanitize user input to avoid
command injection. For more context, consult the Security

find(path [, path ...])



find('src', 'lib');
find(['src', 'lib']); // same as above
find('.').filter(function(file) { return file.match(/\.js$/); });

Returns a ShellString (with array-like properties) of all
files (however deep) in the given paths.

The main difference from ls('-R', path) is that the resulting file names
include the base directories (e.g., lib/resources/file1 instead of just file1).

grep([options,] regex_filter, file [, file ...])

grep([options,] regex_filter, file_array)

Available options:


grep('-v', 'GLOBAL_VARIABLE', '*.js');
grep('GLOBAL_VARIABLE', '*.js');

Reads input string from given files and returns a
ShellString containing all lines of the @ file that match
the given regex_filter.

head([{'-n': <num>},] file [, file ...])

head([{'-n': <num>},] file_array)

Available options:


var str = head({'-n': 1}, 'file*.txt');
var str = head('file1', 'file2');
var str = head(['file1', 'file2']); // same as above

Read the start of a file. Returns a ShellString.

ln([options,] source, dest)

Available options:


ln('file', 'newlink');
ln('-sf', 'file', 'existing');

Links source to dest. Use -f to force the link, should dest already
exist. Returns a ShellString indicating success or

ls([options,] [path, ...])

ls([options,] path_array)

Available options:


ls('projs/**/*.js'); // Find all js files recursively in projs
ls('-R', '/users/me', '/tmp');
ls('-R', ['/users/me', '/tmp']); // same as above
ls('-l', 'file.txt'); // { name: 'file.txt', mode: 33188, nlink: 1, ...}

Returns a ShellString (with array-like properties) of all
the files in the given path, or files in the current directory if no
path is provided.

mkdir([options,] dir [, dir ...])

mkdir([options,] dir_array)

Available options:


mkdir('-p', '/tmp/a/b/c/d', '/tmp/e/f/g');
mkdir('-p', ['/tmp/a/b/c/d', '/tmp/e/f/g']); // same as above

Creates directories. Returns a ShellString indicating
success or failure.

mv([options ,] source [, source ...], dest')

mv([options ,] source_array, dest')

Available options:


mv('-n', 'file', 'dir/');
mv('file1', 'file2', 'dir/');
mv(['file1', 'file2'], 'dir/'); // same as above

Moves source file(s) to dest. Returns a ShellString
indicating success or failure.


Returns the current directory as a ShellString.

rm([options,] file [, file ...])

rm([options,] file_array)

Available options:


rm('-rf', '/tmp/*');
rm('some_file.txt', 'another_file.txt');
rm(['some_file.txt', 'another_file.txt']); // same as above

Removes files. Returns a ShellString indicating success
or failure.

sed([options,] search_regex, replacement, file [, file ...])

sed([options,] search_regex, replacement, file_array)

Available options:


sed('-i', 'PROGRAM_VERSION', 'v0.1.3', 'source.js');

Reads an input string from files, line by line, and performs a JavaScript replace() on
each of the lines from the input string using the given search_regex and replacement string or
function. Returns the new ShellString after replacement.


Like unix sed, ShellJS sed supports capture groups. Capture groups are specified
using the $n syntax:

sed(/(\w+)\s(\w+)/, '$2, $1', 'file.txt');

Also, like unix sed, ShellJS sed runs replacements on each line from the input file
(split by '\n') separately, so search_regexes that span more than one line (or inlclude '\n')
will not match anything and nothing will be replaced.


Available options:


set('-e'); // exit upon first error
set('+e'); // this undoes a "set('-e')"

Sets global configuration variables.

sort([options,] file [, file ...])

sort([options,] file_array)

Available options:


sort('foo.txt', 'bar.txt');
sort('-r', 'foo.txt');

Return the contents of the files, sorted line-by-line as a
ShellString. Sorting multiple files mixes their content
(just as unix sort does).

tail([{'-n': <num>},] file [, file ...])

tail([{'-n': <num>},] file_array)

Available options:


var str = tail({'-n': 1}, 'file*.txt');
var str = tail('file1', 'file2');
var str = tail(['file1', 'file2']); // same as above

Read the end of a file. Returns a ShellString.



var tmp = tempdir(); // "/tmp" for most *nix platforms

Searches and returns string containing a writeable, platform-dependent temporary directory.
Follows Python's tempfile algorithm.


Available expression primaries:


if (test('-d', path)) { /* do something with dir */ };
if (!test('-f', path)) continue; // skip if it's not a regular file

Evaluates expression using the available primaries and returns
corresponding boolean value.



Analogous to the redirection operator > in Unix, but works with
ShellStrings (such as those returned by cat, grep, etc.). Like Unix
redirections, to() will overwrite any existing file!
Returns the same
ShellString this operated on, to support chaining.




Analogous to the redirect-and-append operator >> in Unix, but works with
ShellStrings (such as those returned by cat, grep, etc.). Returns the
same ShellString this operated on, to support chaining.

touch([options,] file [, file ...])

touch([options,] file_array)

Available options:


touch('-c', 'path/to/file.js');
touch({ '-r': 'referenceFile.txt' }, 'path/to/file.js');
touch({ date: new Date('December 17, 1995 03:24:00') }, 'path/to/file.js');

Update the access and modification times of each file to the current time.
A file argument that does not exist is created empty, unless -c is supplied.
This is a partial implementation of
touch(1). Returns a
ShellString indicating success or failure.

uniq([options,] [input, [output]])

Available options:


uniq('-i', 'foo.txt');
uniq('-cd', 'foo.txt', 'bar.txt');

Filter adjacent matching lines from input. Returns a



var nodeExec = which('node');

Searches for command in the system's PATH. On Windows, this uses the
PATHEXT variable to append the extension if it's not already executable.
Returns a ShellString containing the absolute path to


Exits the current process with the given exit code.


Tests if error occurred in the last command. Returns a truthy value if an
error returned, or a falsy value otherwise.

Note: do not rely on the
return value to be an error message. If you need the last error message, use
the .stderr attribute from the last command's return value instead.



var foo = new ShellString('hello world');

This is a dedicated type returned by most ShellJS methods, which wraps a
string (or array) value. This has all the string (or array) methods, but
also exposes extra methods: .to(),
.toEnd(), and all the pipe-able methods
(ex. .cat(), .grep(), etc.). This can be easily converted into a string
by calling .toString().

This type also exposes the corresponding command's stdout, stderr, and
return status code via the .stdout (string), .stderr (string), and
.code (number) properties respectively.


Object containing environment variables (both getter and setter). Shortcut
to process.env.



grep('foo', 'file1.txt', 'file2.txt').sed(/o/g, 'a').to('output.txt');
echo('files with o\'s in the name:\n' + ls().grep('o'));
cat('test.js').exec('node'); // pipe to exec() call

Commands can send their output to another command in a pipe-like fashion.
sed, grep, cat, exec, to, and toEnd can appear on the right-hand
side of a pipe. Pipes can be chained.




var sh = require('shelljs');
var silentState = sh.config.silent; // save old silent state
sh.config.silent = true;
/* ... */
sh.config.silent = silentState; // restore old silent state

Suppresses all command output if true, except for echo() calls.
Default is false.



config.fatal = true; // or set('-e');
cp('this_file_does_not_exist', '/dev/null'); // throws Error here
/* more commands... */

If true, the script will throw a Javascript error when any shell.js
command encounters an error. Default is false. This is analogous to
Bash's set -e.



config.verbose = true; // or set('-v');
rm('-rf', 'foo.txt', 'bar.txt');
exec('echo hello');

Will print each command as follows:

cd dir/
rm -rf foo.txt bar.txt
exec echo hello



config.globOptions = {nodir: true};

Use this value for calls to glob.sync() instead of the default options.



var shell = require('shelljs');
// Make changes to shell.config, and do stuff...
/* ... */
shell.config.reset(); // reset to original state
// Do more stuff, but with original settings
/* ... */

Reset shell.config to the defaults:

  fatal: false,
  globOptions: {},
  maxdepth: 255,
  noglob: false,
  silent: false,
  verbose: false,


Nate Fischer Brandon Freitag
Nate Fischer Brandon Freitag