I used nvm so that when I cd into a different repo, it would automatically load the appropriate version of node (and npm). Simply by doing cd ~/dev/remix-peterbecom, for example, it would make the node executable to become whatever the value of the optional file ~/dev/remix-peterbecom/.nvmrc's content. For example v18.19.0.
And nvm helps you install and get your hands on various versions of node to be able to switch between. Much more fine-tuned than brew install node20.

The problem with all of this is that it's horribly slow. Opening a new terminal is annoyingly slow because that triggers the entering of a directory and nvm slowly does what it does.

The solution is to ditch it and go for fnm instead. Please, if you're an nvm user, do consider making this same jump in 2024.


Running curl -fsSL https://fnm.vercel.app/install | bash basically does some brew install and figuring out what shell you have and editing your shell config. By default, it put:

export PATH="/Users/peterbe/Library/Application Support/fnm:$PATH"
eval "`fnm env`"

...into my .zshrc file. But, I later learned you need to edit the last line to:

-eval "`fnm env`"
+eval "$(fnm env --use-on-cd)"

so that it automatically activates immediately after you've cd'ed into a directory.
If you had direnv to do this, get rid of that. fmn does not need direnv.

Now, create a fresh new terminal and it should be set up, including tab completion. You can test it by typing fnm[TAB]. You'll see:

❯ fnm
alias                   -- Alias a version to a common name
completions             -- Print shell completions to stdout
current                 -- Print the current Node.js version
default                 -- Set a version as the default version
env                     -- Print and set up required environment variables for fnm
exec                    -- Run a command within fnm context
help                    -- Print this message or the help of the given subcommand(s)
install                 -- Install a new Node.js version
list         ls         -- List all locally installed Node.js versions
list-remote  ls-remote  -- List all remote Node.js versions
unalias                 -- Remove an alias definition
uninstall               -- Uninstall a Node.js version
use                     -- Change Node.js version


If you had .nvmrc files sprinkled about from before, fnm will read those. If you cd into a directory, that contains .nvmrc, whose version fnm hasn't installed, yet, you get this:

❯ cd ~/dev/GROCER/groce/
Can't find an installed Node version matching v16.14.2.
Do you want to install it? answer [y/N]:


But if you want to set it up from scratch, go into your directory of choice, type:

fnm ls-remote

...to see what versions of node you can install. Suppose you want v20.10.0 in the current directory do these two commands:

fnm install v20.10.0
echo v20.10.0 > .node-version

That's it!


  • I prefer that .node-version convention so I've been going around doing mv .nvmrc .node-version in various projects

  • fnm ls is handy to see which ones you've installed already

  • Suppose you want to temporarily use a specific version, simply type fnm use v16.20.2 for example

  • I heard good things about volta too but got a bit nervous when I found out it gets involved in installing packages and not just versions of node.

  • fnm does not concern itself with upgrading your node versions. To get the latest version of node v21.x, it's up to you to check fnm ls-remote and compare that with the output of node --version.



Thanks for writing this down. It was a great help.

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