I've got Node installed using NVM, and Emacs (v25.2.1) isn't able to find Node. When I run M-: (executable-find "node") I get back nil.

However, when I run M-: (executable-find "cat") I get "/bin/cat". I assume the difference is due to my use of NVM.

How do I get Emacs to find Node when I've got Node installed using NVM?

Incidental technical details:

My Emacs was installed using MacPorts (using the emacs-app package that installs to the Mac Applications folder for a GUI experience), and I've got the following lines in my ~/.bashrc:

export NVM_DIR="/Users/fred/.nvm"
[ -s "$NVM_DIR/nvm.sh" ] && . "$NVM_DIR/nvm.sh"  # This loads nvm

My ~/.bash_profile contains source ~/.bashrc.

I'm not sure if this is relevant to the problem, but I should mention that when I open M-x eshell, I get the following when trying to run Node:

$ node
node: command not found

However, I am able to run Node through M-x shell.

I did have limited success installing the emacs package (as opposed to the emacs-app package) from MacPorts. Using the Emacs from the emacs package (which installs to /opt/local/bin/emacs), I was able to evaluate in the scratch buffer:

(executable-find "node")

And successfully got the path to node. However, this same lisp expression evaluated in the Emacs from the emacs-app package yielded nil. This doesn't help me much, because I want to use the emacs from emacs-app, because it's the Emacs with the graphical interface for Mac, as I understand it.

I want to continue using NVM, please.

  • 1
    The doc-string for executable-find states: "Search for COMMAND in ‘exec-path’ and return the absolute file name. Return nil if COMMAND is not found anywhere in ‘exec-path’." You can inspect the exec-path with C-h v or M-x describe-variable. If the path containing the node executable is not there, then you will be one step closer to troubleshooting the issue.
    – lawlist
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 23:03
  • Most likely, your .bashrc code has no effect because there's no bash involved (i.e. you start Emacs from the GUI which has not executed a bash shell).
    – Stefan
    Commented Jul 16, 2017 at 1:18
  • I run my emacs in the terminal. And my emacs shell sees the system node, rather than the nvm node. Seems very silly. I guess nvm is doing something sneaky. rvm works fine. The nvm default is set to the node version I want. But nvm just doesn't play nice.
    – nroose
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 22:59

1 Answer 1


Best solution:

Install exec-path-from-shell. From the documentation, after calling (package-initialize), add the following to your .emacs file:

(when (memq window-system '(mac ns x))

Another solution:

Add the following to your .emacs file:

(setq exec-path (append exec-path '("~/.nvm/versions/node/v6.3.0/bin")))

Your version number in the string above may differ. I don't like this solution as much as the "best solution," because it must be manually updated to keep the emacs path synchronized with the system path.

  • After appending a new path to exec-path to point to an nvm path it still shows me "/usr/bin/node" when evaluating (executable-find "node"). Maybe I should consider deleting node from /usr/bin/node? Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 21:28
  • @EvgenyMikhaylov You could try (push "/path/to/node/bin" exec-path) instead of append to make the new path you're adding take precedence over /usr/bin.
    – g-gundam
    Commented Oct 16, 2022 at 20:44
  • @g-gundam thank you! But I have already deleted files node and nodejs from /usr/bin/. I have no idea though whether it could leave some remnants. Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 20:28
  • @EvgenyMikhaylov I'd be careful with that. If your package management system installed node there, it might become confused when it can't find it later.
    – g-gundam
    Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 20:31

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