How do I update each dependency in package.json to the latest version?

I copied package.json from another project and now want to bump all of the dependencies to their latest versions since this is a fresh project and I don't mind fixing something if it breaks.

What's the easiest way to do this?

The best way I know of now is to run npm info express version then update package.json manually for each one. There must be a better way.

  "name": "myproject",
  "description": "my node project",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "engines": {
    "node": "0.8.4",
    "npm": "1.1.65"
  "private": true,
  "dependencies": {
    "express": "~3.0.3", // how do I get these bumped to latest?
    "mongodb": "~1.2.5",
    "underscore": "~1.4.2",
    "rjs": "~2.9.0",
    "jade": "~0.27.2",
    "async": "~0.1.22"

I am now a collaborator on npm-check-updates, which is a great solution to this problem.



answered 5 years ago josh3736 #1

Looks like npm-check-updates is the only way to make this happen now.

npm i -g npm-check-updates
ncu -u
npm install

On npm <3.11:

Simply change every dependency's version to *, then run npm update --save. (Note: broken in recent (3.11) versions of npm).


  "dependencies": {
    "express": "*",
    "mongodb": "*",
    "underscore": "*",
    "rjs": "*",
    "jade": "*",
    "async": "*"


  "dependencies": {
    "express": "~3.2.0",
    "mongodb": "~1.2.14",
    "underscore": "~1.4.4",
    "rjs": "~2.10.0",
    "jade": "~0.29.0",
    "async": "~0.2.7"

Of course, this is the blunt hammer of updating dependencies. It's fine if—as you said—the project is empty and nothing can break.

On the other hand, if you're working in a more mature project, you probably want to verify that there are no breaking changes in your dependencies before upgrading.

To see which modules are outdated, just run npm outdated. It will list any installed dependencies that have newer versions available.

answered 4 years ago Tobiasz Cudnik #2

This works as of npm 1.3.15.

"dependencies": {
  "foo": "latest"

answered 4 years ago Etienne #3

npm-check-updates is a utility that automatically adjusts a package.json with the latest version of all dependencies


$ npm install -g npm-check-updates
$ ncu -u
$ npm install 

answered 4 years ago Haven #4

Alternative is

    "foo" : ">=1.4.5"

everytime you use npm update , it automatically update to the latest version. For more version syntax, you may check here:

answered 4 years ago andxyz #5

I recently had to update several projects that were using npm and package.json for their gruntfile.js magic. The following bash command (multiline command) worked well for me:

npm outdated --json --depth=0 | \
jq --ascii-output --monochrome-output '. | keys | .[]' | \
xargs npm install $1 --save-dev

The idea here: To pipe the npm outdated output as json, to jq
(jq is a json command line parser/query tool)
(notice the use of --depth argument for npm outdated)
jq will strip the output down to just the top level package name only.
finally xargs puts each LIBRARYNAME one at a time into a npm install LIBRARYNAME --save-dev command

The above is what worked for me on a machine runnning: node=v0.11.10 osx=10.9.2 npm=1.3.24

this required:
xargs (native to my machine I believe)
jq (I installed it with brew install jq)

Note: I only save the updated libraries to package.json inside of the json key devDependancies by using --save-dev, that was a requirement of my projects, quite possible not yours.

Afterward I check that everything is gravy with a simple

npm outdated --depth=0

Also, you can check the current toplevel installed library versions with

npm list --depth=0

answered 4 years ago laconbass #6

To update one dependency to its lastest version without having to manually open the package.json and change it, you can run

npm install {package-name}@* {save flags?}


npm install [email protected]* --save

For reference, npm-install

As noted by user Vespakoen on a rejected edit, it's also possible to update multiple packages at once this way:

npm install --save [email protected]* [email protected]* whatever-thing@*

He also apports a one-liner for the shell based on npm outdated. See the edit for code and explanation.

PS: I also hate having to manually edit package.json for things like that ;)

answered 4 years ago gleb bahmutov #7

The above commands are unsafe because you might break your module when switching versions. Instead I recommend the following

  • Set actual current node modules version into package.json using npm shrinkwrap command.
  • Update each dependency to the latest version IF IT DOES NOT BREAK YOUR TESTS using command line tool
npm install -g next-update
// from your package

answered 3 years ago Mr. Sun Lin #8

  1. Use * as the version for the latest releases, including unstable
  2. Use latest as version definition for the latest stable version
  3. Modify the package.json with exactly the latest stable version number using LatestStablePackages

Here is an example:

"dependencies": {
        "express": "latest"  // using the latest STABLE version
    ,   "node-gyp": "latest"    
    ,   "jade": "latest"
    ,   "mongoose": "*" // using the newest version, may involve the unstable releases
    ,   "cookie-parser": "latest"
    ,   "express-session": "latest"
    ,   "body-parser": "latest"
    ,   "nodemailer":"latest"
    ,   "validator": "latest"
    ,   "bcrypt": "latest"
    ,   "formidable": "latest"
    ,   "path": "latest"
    ,   "fs-extra": "latest"
    ,   "moment": "latest"
    ,   "express-device": "latest"

answered 3 years ago Tyler Davis #9

The only caveat I have found with the best answer above is that it updates the modules to the latest version. This means it could update to an unstable alpha build.

I would use that npm-check-updates utility. My group used this tool and it worked effectively by installing the stable updates.

As Etienne stated above: install and run with this:

$ npm install -g npm-check-updates
$ npm-check-updates -u
$ npm install 

answered 3 years ago Michael Cole #10

TLDR; (updated for newer NPM versions)

Things have changed a bit since these answers were originally written.

npm 2+: npm outdated+npm update+npm shrinkwrap

Older npm: npm-check-updates package + npm shrinkwrap

Be sure to shrinkwrap your deps, or you may wind up with a dead project. I pulled out a project the other day and it wouldn't run because my deps were all out of date/updated/a mess. If I'd shrinkwrapped, npm would have installed exactly what I needed.


For the curious who make it this far, here is what I recommend:

Use npm-check-updates or npm outdated to suggest the latest versions.

# `outdated` is part of newer npm versions (2+)
$ npm outdated
# If you agree, update.  
$ npm update

#       OR

# Install and use the `npm-check-updates` package.
$ npm install -g npm-check-updates
# Then check your project
$ npm-check-updates
# If you agree, update package.json.
$ npm-check-updates -u

Then do a clean install (w/o the rm I got some dependency warnings)

$ rm -rf node_modules
$ npm install 

Lastly, save exact versions to npm-shrinkwrap.json with npm shrinkwrap

$ rm npm-shrinkwrap.json
$ npm shrinkwrap

Now, npm install will now use exact versions in npm-shrinkwrap.json

If you check npm-shrinkwrap.json into git, all installs will use the exact same versions.

This is a way to transition out of development (all updates, all the time) to production (nobody touch nothing).

answered 2 years ago daniellmb #11

Here is a basic regex to match semantic version numbers so you can quickly replace them all with an asterisk.

Semantic Version Regex


How to use

Select the package versions you want to replace in the JSON file.

screenshot:select the text you want to replace

Input the regex above and verify it's matching the correct text.

screenshot:input the semver regex above

Replace all matches with an asterisk.

screenshot:replace package versions with an asterisk

Run npm update --save

answered 2 years ago Алексей Володько #12

Solution without additional packages

Change every dependency's version to *:

"dependencies": {
    "react": "*",
    "react-google-maps": "*"

Then run npm update --save.

Some of your packages were updated, but some not?

"dependencies": {
    "react": "^15.0.1",
    "react-google-maps": "*"

This is the tricky part, it means your local version of "react" was lower than the newest one. In this case npm downloaded and updated "react" package. However your local version of "react-google-maps" is the same as the newest one.

If you still want to "update" unchanged *, you have to delete these modules from node_modules folder.

e.g. delete node_modules/react-google-maps.

Finally run again npm update --save.

"dependencies": {
    "react": "^15.0.1",
    "react-google-maps": "^4.10.1"

Do not forget to run npm update --save-dev if you want to update development dependencies.

answered 2 years ago David Braun #13


Based on npm outdated, updtr installs the latest version and runs npm test for each dependency. If the test succeeds, updtr saves the new version number to your package.json. If the test fails, however, updtr rolls back its changes.

answered 1 year ago Luca Steeb #14

Greenkeeper if you're using Github.

It's a Github integration and incredibly easy to set things up. When installed, it automatically creates pull requests in repositories you specify (or all if wanted) and keeps your code always up-to-date, without forcing you to do anything manually. PRs should then trigger a build on a CI service and depending on a successful or failed check you can keep figuring out what's triggering the issue or when CI passes simply merge the PR.

greenkeeper PR 1 greenkeeper PR 2

At the bottom, you can see that the first build failed at first and after a commit ("upgrade to node v6.9") the tests pass so I could finally merge the PR. Comes with a lot of emoji, too.

Another alternative would be, however I didn't test it intensively. After a first look Greenkeeper looks better in general IMO and has better integration.

answered 1 year ago webkitfanz #15

  • npm outdated
  • npm update

Should get you the latest wanted versions compatible for your app. But not the latest versions.

answered 1 year ago GollyJer #16

If you happen to be using Visual Studio Code as your IDE, this is a fun little extension to make updating package.json a one click process.

Version Lense

enter image description here

answered 1 year ago goksel #17

I use npm-check to archive this.

npm i -g npm npm-check
npm-check -ug #to update globals
npm-check -u #to update locals

enter image description here

Another useful command list which will keep exact version numbers in package.json

npm cache clean
rm -rf node_modules/
npm i -g npm npm-check-updates
ncu -g #update globals
ncu -ua #update locals
npm i

answered 1 year ago Sibiraj #18

A very late reply. but may help someone.

this feature has been introduced in npm v5. update to npm using npm install -g [email protected] and

to update package.json

  1. delete /node_modules and package-lock.json (if you have any)

  2. run npm update. this will update package.json to the latest version with installed dependencies.

to update to very latest version. you can go with npm-check-updates

answered 1 year ago Yangshun Tay #19

If you are using yarn, yarn upgrade-interactive is a really sleek tool that can allow you to view your outdated dependencies and then select which ones you want to update.

More reasons to use Yarn over npm. Heh.

answered 12 months ago Arpit #20

This is what I did to update all the dependencies in package.json to latest:

npm install -g npm-check-updates
ncu -u --packageFile package.json 

answered 11 months ago Matt #21

One easy step:

$ npm install -g npm-check-updates && ncu -a && npm i

answered 11 months ago karthik006 #22

Ncu is a new alias to check for updates. By doing so you do not have to manually update ur version numbers in package.json ncu does it for you . Follow the method below if you are on a Linux machine

sudo npm i -g npm-check-updates
// decide between -u or -a
ncu -u, --upgrade and overwrite package file
ncu -a, --upgradeAll include even those dependencies whose latest 
          version satisfies the declared server dependency
sudo npm install

answered 11 months ago krunal shah #23

Try following command if you using npm 5 and node 8

npm update --save

answered 10 months ago manncito #24

I really like how npm-upgrade works. It is a simple command line utility that goes through all of your dependencies and lets you see the current version compared to the latest version and update if you want.

Here is a screenshot of what happens after running npm-upgrade in the root of your project (next to the package.json file):

npm upgrade example

For each dependency you can choose to upgrade, ignore, view the changelog, or finish the process. It has worked great for me so far.

answered 8 months ago Ogglas #25

Commands that I had to use to update package.json for NPM 3.10.10:

npm install -g npm-check-updates
ncu -a
npm install


I was using the latest command from @josh3736 but my package.json was not updated. I then noticed the description text when running npm-check-updates -u:

The following dependency is satisfied by its declared version range, but the installed version is behind. You can install the latest version without modifying your package file by using npm update. If you want to update the dependency in your package file anyway, run ncu -a.

Reading the documentation for npm-check-updates you can see the difference:

-u, --upgrade: overwrite package file

-a, --upgradeAll: include even those dependencies whose latest version satisfies the declared semver dependency

ncu is an alias for npm-check-updates as seen in the message when typing npm-check-updates -u:

[INFO]: You can also use ncu as an alias

answered 7 months ago StepUp #26

To see which packages have newer versions available, then use the following command:

npm outdated

to update just one dependency just use the following command:

npm install [email protected] --save

For example:

My package.json file has dependency:

"@progress/kendo-angular-dateinputs": "^1.3.1",

then I should write:

npm install @progress/[email protected] --save

answered 4 months ago inf3rno #27

The following code (which was accepted) wrote me something like "it takes too long blah-blah" and did nothing. Probably using the global flag was the problem, idk.

npm i -g npm-check-updates
ncu -u
npm install

I decided to use my text editor and follow a semi-manual approach instead.

I copied a list like this (just a lot longer) from the dev dependencies of my package.json to the notepad++ text editor:

"browserify": "10.2.6",
"expect.js": "^0.3.1",
"karma": "^0.13.22",
"karma-browserify": "^5.2.0",

I set the search mode to regular expression, used the ^\s*"([^"]+)".*$ pattern to get the package name and replaced it with npm uninstall \1 --save-dev \nnpm install \1 --save-dev. Clicked on "replace all". The otput was this:

npm uninstall browserify --save-dev 
npm install browserify --save-dev
npm uninstall expect.js --save-dev 
npm install expect.js --save-dev
npm uninstall karma --save-dev 
npm install karma --save-dev
npm uninstall karma-browserify --save-dev 
npm install karma-browserify --save-dev

I copied it back to bash and hit enter. Everything was upgraded and working fine. That's all.

"browserify": "^16.1.0",
"expect.js": "^0.3.1",
"karma": "^2.0.0",
"karma-browserify": "^5.2.0",

I don't think it is a big deal, since you have to do it only every now and then, but you can easily write a script, which parses the package.json and upgrades your packages. I think it is better this way, because you can edit your list if you need something special, for example keeping the current version of a lib.

answered 2 months ago fotijr #28

If you use yarn, the following command updates all packages to their latest version:

yarn upgrade --latest

From their docs:

The upgrade --latest command upgrades packages the same as the upgrade command, but ignores the version range specified in package.json. Instead, the version specified by the latest tag will be used (potentially upgrading the packages across major versions).

answered 1 month ago Sunil #29

I solved this by seeing the instructions from

$ npm install -g npm-check-updates
$ ncu
$ ncu -u # to update all the dependencies to latest
$ ncu -u "specific module name"  #in case you want to update specific dependencies to latest

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