How to read a symlink in Node.js

I want to read a symlink, and get the details of the link itself, not the contents of the linked file. How do I do that in Node, in a cross-platform way?

I can detect symlinks easily using lstat, no problem. Once I know the path of the file, and that it is a symlink though, how can I read it? fs.readFile always reads the target file, or throws an error for reading a directory for links to directories.

There is a fs.constants.O_SYMLINK constant, which in theory solves this on OSX, but it seems to be undefined on both Ubuntu & Windows 10.



If you have determined that the file is a symlink try this:

fs.readlink("./mysimlink", function (err, linkString) { 
         // .. do some error handling here .. 

Confirmed as working on Linux.

You could then use fs.realpath() to turn it into a full path. Be aware though that linkString can be just a filename or relative path as well as a fully qualified path so you may have to get fs.realpath() for the symlink, determine its directory part and prefix it to linkString before using fs.realpath() on it.


I've just faced the same issue: sometimes fs.readlink returns a relative path, sometimes it returns an absolute path. (proper error handling not implemented to keep things simple)

const fs = require('fs');
const pathPckg = require('path');

async function getTarLinkOfSymLink(path){
    return new Promise((resolve, reject)=>{
        fs.readlink(path, (err, tarPath)=>{
                return resolve('');
            const baseSrcPath = pathPckg.dirname(path);
            return resolve( pathPckg.resolve(baseSrcPath, tarPath) );

// usage:
const path = '/example/symbolic/link/path';
const tarPath = await getTarLinkOfSymLink(path);

The code works if the symbolic link is either a file or a directory/folder - tested on Linux


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