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npm: specifiers

Since version 1.28, Deno has native support for importing npm packages. This is done by importing using npm: specifiers. For example the following code:

import { emojify } from "npm:node-emoji@2";

console.log(emojify(":t-rex: :heart: NPM"));

Can be run with:

$ deno run main.js
🦖 ❤️ NPM

When doing this, no npm install is necessary and no node_modules folder is created. These packages are also subject to the same permissions as other code in Deno.

npm specifiers have the following format:


For examples with popular libraries, please refer to our tutorial section.

TypeScript types Jump to heading

Many packages ship with types out of the box, you can import those and use them with types easily:

import chalk from "npm:chalk@5";

Some packages do not though, but you can specify their types with a @deno-types directive. For example, using a @types package:

// @deno-types="npm:@types/express@^4.17"
import express from "npm:express@^4.17";

Module resolution Jump to heading

The official TypeScript compiler tsc supports different moduleResolution settings. Deno only supports the modern node16 resolution. Unfortunately many NPM packages fail to correctly provide types under node16 module resolution, which can result in deno check reporting type errors, that tsc does not report.

If a default export from an npm: import appears to have a wrong type (with the right type seemingly being available under the .default property), it's most likely that the package provides wrong types under node16 module resolution for imports from ESM. You can verify this by checking if the error also occurs with tsc --module node16 and "type": "module" in package.json or by consulting the Are the types wrong? website (particularly the "node16 from ESM" row).

If you want to use a package that doesn't support TypeScript's node16 module resolution, you can:

  1. Open an issue at the issue tracker of the package about the problem. (And perhaps contribute a fix 😃 (Although there unfortunately currently is a lack of tooling for packages to support both ESM and CJS, since default exports require different syntaxes, see also microsoft/TypeScript#54593)
  2. Use a CDN, that rebuilds the packages for Deno support, instead of an npm: identifier.
  3. Ignore the type errors you get in your code base with // @ts-expect-error or // @ts-ignore.

Including Node types Jump to heading

Node ships with many built-in types like Buffer that might be referenced in an npm package's types. To load these you must add a types reference directive to the @types/node package:

/// <reference types="npm:@types/node" />

Note that it is fine to not specify a version for this in most cases because Deno will try to keep it in sync with its internal Node code, but you can always override the version used if necessary.

npm executable scripts Jump to heading

npm packages with bin entries can be executed from the command line without an npm install using a specifier in the following format:


For example:

$ deno run --allow-read npm:cowsay@1.5.0 Hello there!
< Hello there! >
        \   ^__^
         \  (oo)\_______
            (__)\       )\/\
                ||----w |
                ||     ||

$ deno run --allow-read npm:cowsay@1.5.0/cowthink What to eat?
( What to eat? )
        o   ^__^
         o  (oo)\_______
            (__)\       )\/\
                ||----w |
                ||     ||

--node-modules-dir flag Jump to heading

npm specifiers resolve npm packages to a central global npm cache. This works well in most cases and is ideal since it uses less space and doesn't require a node_modules directory. That said, you may find cases where an npm package expects itself to be executing from a node_modules directory. To improve compatibility and support those packages, you can use the --node-modules-dir flag.

For example, given main.ts:

import chalk from "npm:chalk@5";


Running this script with a --node-modules-dir like so...

deno run --node-modules-dir main.ts

...will create a node_modules folder in the current directory with a similar folder structure to npm.

Note that this is all done automatically when calling deno run and there is no separate install command necessary.

Alternatively, if you wish to disable the creation of a node_modules directory entirely, you can set this flag to false (ex. --node-modules-dir=false) or add a "nodeModulesDir": false entry to your deno.json configuration file to make the setting apply to the entire directory tree.

In the case where you want to modify the contents of the node_modules directory before execution, you can run deno cache with --node-modules-dir, modify the contents, then run the script.

For example:

deno cache --node-modules-dir main.ts
deno run --allow-read=. --allow-write=. scripts/your_script_to_modify_node_modules_dir.ts
deno run --node-modules-dir main.ts