Node.JS: Error Cannot find module [SOLVED]

Even though I have installed my npm package globally, I receive the following error :

Error: Cannot find module 'color'
 at Function.Module._resolveFilename (module.js:338:15)
 at Function.Module._load (module.js:280:25)
 at Module.require (module.js:364:17)
 at require (module.js:380:17)
 at repl:1:2
 at REPLServer.self.eval (repl.js:110:21)
 at Interface. (repl.js:239:12)
 at Interface.emit (events.js:95:17)
 at Interface._onLine (readline.js:202:10)
 at Interface._line (readline.js:531:8)

I did have some assumptions here that once the npm package is installed with “-g” or “–global” switch, it will find this package automatically. But after the struggle of installing, uninstalling, reinstalling, clearing cache locally, it did not solve my problem.

Overall, I knew how how the process of searching a module goes with “npm install” command. What I did not know that there is a variable called $NODE_PATH, which needs to have a right value.

For anyone else running into this problem, you need to check the value of $NODE_PATH variable with this command

root$ echo $NODE_PATH

If it is empty then this article may give you the solution that you are looking for.

What should be the value of this variable?

Lets find out the appropriate value for $NODE_PATH

Type in the following command line:

root$ which npm

This command will give you the path where npm is installed and running from.

In my case it is “/usr/local/bin/npm” and now note down the path.

Navigate to the /usr/local with the help of finder/ explorer. You will find the folder called “lib” and within that “lib” folder you will be able to see node_modules folder, which is your global level module folder. This is the place where all your global packages are installed.

All you have to do now is set the NODE_PATH with the path that you have found for node_modules.


export NODE_PATH=’module path’

In my case it is /usr/local/lib/node_modules

export NODE_PATH='/usr/local/lib/node_modules'

NOTE: There is an another and probably, an easy way to find your global node_modules folder is by installing any package with –verbose flag.
For example, you can run

root$ npm install –global –verbose promised-io

It will install the npm package and it will give you the location where promised-io is installed. You can just pick the location and set the same in $NODE_PATH.

Here is an another twist.

Now everything will work fine within the session of current terminal. If you restart the terminal, and then echo $NODE_PATH, it will return and empty response.

What is the permanent solution?

You need to make the above export statement as a part of your .bash_profile file so that it is set as soon as you are logged in.


  1. Close all your terminal windows and open once again:
  2. type in root$: vi ~/.bash_rc file and add this line:export NODE_PATH=’module path’

    In my case:

    export NODE_PATH=’/usr/local/lib/node_modules’

  3. type root$: vi ~/.bash_profile and add this line:source ~/.bash_profile
  4. Close all terminal windows and try again with “echo $NODE_PATH” into new command window.

    If it still does not work then for the first time, just type in this command with the same window.

    source ~/.bash_profile


Know more about  $NODE_PATH

(Reference: )

Loading from the global folders

If the NODE_PATH environment variable is set to a colon-delimited list of absolute paths, then Node.js will search those paths for modules if they are not found elsewhere. (Note: On Windows, NODE_PATH is delimited by semicolons instead of colons.)

NODE_PATH was originally created to support loading modules from varying paths before the current module resolution algorithm was frozen.

NODE_PATH is still supported, but is less necessary now that the Node.js ecosystem has settled on a convention for locating dependent modules. Sometimes deployments that rely on NODE_PATH show surprising behavior when people are unaware that NODE_PATH must be set. Sometimes a module’s dependencies change, causing a different version (or even a different module) to be loaded as the NODE_PATHis searched.

Additionally, Node.js will search in the following locations:

  • 1: $HOME/.node_modules
  • 2: $HOME/.node_libraries
  • 3: $PREFIX/lib/node

Where $HOME is the user’s home directory, and $PREFIX is Node.js’s configured node_prefix.

These are mostly for historic reasons. You are highly encouraged to place your dependencies locally innode_modules folders. They will be loaded faster, and more reliably.