NVM: How to automatically switch version when changing directories

The Node Version Manager allows installing multiple NodeJS versions and switching between them.
By default, it does not automatically switch versions when entering a directory that holds a .nvmrc file.

The project's readme document offers a bash function which calls nvm use after each cd. In fact, it replaces cd in your bash.

I did not want to do that, but instead use the $PROMPT_COMMAND feature. So here is my take on it.
Note that it is much shorter, it probably does a few less smart things, but has been working great for me for a long while.
Also note that it compares .nvmrc file paths instead of comparing nvm current, so cding around subdirectories of your project should work without any noticable performance impact.

Put the following at the end of your ~/.bashrc (the first three lines might already be in there):

export NVM_DIR="$HOME/.nvm"
[ -s "$NVM_DIR/nvm.sh" ] && \. "$NVM_DIR/nvm.sh"
[ -s "$NVM_DIR/bash_completion" ] && \. "$NVM_DIR/bash_completion"

find-up() {
  while [[ "$path" != "" && ! -e "$path/$1" ]]; do
  echo "$path"

automatic-nvm-use() {
  NVM_PATH=$(find-up .nvmrc | tr -d '[:space:]')

  if [[ $NVM_PATH == $NVM_PATH_WAS ]]; then


  if [[ -f "$NVM_PATH/.nvmrc" ]]; then
    nvm use $(<"$NVM_PATH/.nvmrc")
    nvm use default

if [[ "$PROMPT_COMMAND" ]]; then
  export PROMPT_COMMAND="$PROMPT_COMMAND;automatic-nvm-use"
  export PROMPT_COMMAND=automatic-nvm-use

Then re-open your terminals, or reinitialize them via source ~/.bashrc.

Note: If your ~/.bashrc contains other code that changes $PROMPT_COMMAND (like making your terminal's title reflect the current directory), make sure it does not simply set a new $PROMPT_COMMAND, but prepends or appends itself. Alternatively, put the above snippet after it.

Arne Hartherz about 1 month ago
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