Run locally installed NPM binaries without installing globally

I try to avoid installing things on my laptop. Installing NPM binaries globally, just because some project needs them, is bad form...

December 23, 2018 - 2 minute read -
NPM Bash

This is probably really obvious to folks who work with node.js / npm on a day-to-day basis, but:

a. I don’t b. googling duckduckgoing for this wasn’t very helpful, so I thought I’d keep a note-to-self here.

My problem was that I downloaded a project whose instructions said something along the lines of:

Install with npm install -g <binary_name> and verify installation by running --version .

I don’t like that -g which stands for --global, and requires root permissions, so I just wanted to install this package locally.

So I just ran npm install.

And skipping the -g meant there was no to be found anywhere and I tried quite a few places (from the google search:

  • .bin
  • .node_modules/.bin
  • lib/
  • $(npm bin)

In the end, the solution was to look inside the package.json and find the bin section:

  "name": "binary_name",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "description": "some awesome binary",
  "main": "index.js",
  "scripts": {
    "test": "echo \"no tests\" && exit 1"
  "bin": {
    "<binary_name>": "./index.js"
  "author": "Some cool person",
  "license": "MIT",
  "dependencies": {
  "devDependencies": {}

In that section, you’ll see that there is a .index.js as the binary_name.

tl;dr Solution

It was as simple as creating an alias in my shell :

$ chmod +x index.js
$ alias <binary_name>="$(pwd)/index.js"
$ <binary_name> --version

Needless to say, but: substitute <binary_name> for the name of the binary you’re struggling with.