npm global path prefix


I am being more cautious than usual because I have been confused by the behavior of npm in the past.

I am on a Mac and have installed node.js through brew install node.

Now that I want to run jslint.js on the command-line as the command jslint I find that the canonical way to accomplish this is sudo npm install -g jslint which ran successfully with this output:

$ sudo npm install -g jslint
npm http GET
npm http 200
npm http GET
npm http 200
npm http GET
npm http 200
npm http GET
npm http 200
npm http GET
npm http 200
npm http GET
npm http 200
/usr/local/share/npm/bin/jslint -> /usr/local/share/npm/lib/node_modules/jslint/
jslint@0.1.9 /usr/local/share/npm/lib/node_modules/jslint
└── nopt@1.0.10 (abbrev@1.0.4)


$ jslint ply.js
zsh: command not found: jslint

due to /usr/local/share/npm/bin not being in my $PATH.

1) Why did brew not install global npm bin path to path? Maybe it did, but something zsh does is messing it up. Where might I be able to find that?
2) Should I do this? (Append :/usr/local/share/npm/bin to the exported $PATH at the bottom of my ~/.zshrc)

It seems like this isn't the right way to do it because if I install something else later (using Homebrew or something) I'll be needing to append it to my zsh startup script to set the path. I guess in this particular instance it's just a matter of the npm install -g not making the right symlinks in a "proper" location (like /usr/local/bin maybe).

I think what I will do is manually build out symlinks inside /usr/local/bin for any programs that I have trouble with and it should be good enough for my purposes.

EDIT: I'm updating this in 2019, because this old question is popular but now outdated both in terms of my personal workflow and also in terms of how to best go about installing node and managing its various dependencies.

My personal workflow is now to use the installer obtained from to install node on systems. I actually trust this more than the homebrew package itself, because it knows best how to manage the files. If you want to change your system node from 8.10 to 10.15, whether on Mac or Windows, simply download the installer from for 10.15 for your OS. Attempting to upgrade node installed via homebrew has always proven to be a more difficult approach in my experience.

Also, the biggest thing to point out is that the use of sudo as shown in my npm install of jslint example above is highly discouraged; I am fairly certain that homebrew packages should never be installed or interacted with in any way using the superuser. It should not be necessary, and will lead to file permission headaches!

Furthermore I recommend ESLint over jslint, and have not used jslint in years.

4/11/2019 4:01:26 PM

Accepted Answer

Extending your PATH with:

export PATH=/usr/local/share/npm/bin:$PATH

isn't a terrible idea. Having said that, you shouldn't have to do it.

Run this:

npm config get prefix

The default on OS X is /usr/local, which means that npm will symlink binaries into /usr/local/bin, which should already be on your PATH (especially if you're using Homebrew).


  1. npm config set prefix /usr/local if it's something else, and
  2. Don't use sudo with npm! According to the jslint docs, you should just be able to npm install it.

If you installed npm as sudo (sudo brew install), try reinstalling it with plain ol' brew install. Homebrew is supposed to help keep you sudo-free.

10/3/2014 1:00:52 PM

Spent a while on this issue, and the PATH switch wasn't helping. My problem was the Homebrew/node/npm bug found here -

If you've already installed node using Homebrew, try ****Note per comments that this might not be safe. It worked for me but could have unintended consequences. It also appears that latest version of Homebrew properly installs npm. So likely I would try brew update, brew doctor, brew upgrade node etc before trying****:

npm update -gf

Or, if you want to install node with Homebrew and have npm work, use:

brew install node --without-npm
curl -L | sh

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