How to check whether a script is running under Node.js?

I have a script I am requiring from a Node.js script, which I want to keep JavaScript engine independent.

For example, I want to do exports.x = y; only if it’s running under Node.js. How can I perform this test?

When posting this question, I didn’t know the Node.js modules feature is based on CommonJS.

For the specific example I gave, a more accurate question would’ve been:

How can a script tell whether it has been required as a CommonJS module?



By looking for CommonJS support, this is how the Underscore.js library does it:

Edit: to your updated question:

(function () {

    // Establish the root object, `window` in the browser, or `global` on the server.
    var root = this; 

    // Create a reference to this
    var _ = new Object();

    var isNode = false;

    // Export the Underscore object for **CommonJS**, with backwards-compatibility
    // for the old `require()` API. If we're not in CommonJS, add `_` to the
    // global object.
    if (typeof module !== 'undefined' && module.exports) {
            module.exports = _;
            root._ = _;
            isNode = true;
    } else {
            root._ = _;

Example here retains the Module pattern.


Well there's no reliable way to detect running in Node.js since every website could easily declare the same variables, yet, since there's no window object in Node.js by default you can go the other way around and check whether you're running inside a Browser.

This is what I use for libs that should work both in a Browser and under Node.js:

if (typeof window === 'undefined') { = {};

} else { = {};

It might still explode in case that window is defined in Node.js but there's no good reason for someone do this, since you would explicitly need to leave out var or set the property on the global object.


For detecting whether your script has been required as a CommonJS module, that's again not easy. Only thing commonJS specifies is that A: The modules will be included via a call to the function require and B: The modules exports things via properties on the exports object. Now how that is implement is left to the underlying system. Node.js wraps the module's content in an anonymous function:

function (exports, require, module, __filename, __dirname) { 


But don't try to detect that via some crazy arguments.callee.toString() stuff, instead just use my example code above which checks for the Browser. Node.js is a way cleaner environment so it's unlikely that window will be declared there.


I currently stumbled over a wrong detection of Node which is not aware of the Node-environment in Electron due to a misleading feature-detection. The following solutions identify the process-environment explicitly.

Identify Node.js only

(typeof process !== 'undefined') && ( === 'node')

This will discover if you're running in a Node-process, since process.release contains the "metadata related to the current [Node-]release".

After the spawn of io.js the value of may also become io.js (see the process-doc). To proper detect a Node-ready environment i guess you should check as follows:

Identify Node (>= 3.0.0) or io.js

(typeof process !== 'undefined') &&
(|io.js/) !== -1)

This statement was tested with Node 5.5.0, Electron 0.36.9 (with Node 5.1.1) and Chrome 48.0.2564.116.

Identify Node (>= 0.10.0) or io.js

(typeof process !== 'undefined') &&
(typeof process.versions.node !== 'undefined')

@daluege's comment inspired me to think about a more general proof. This should working from Node.js >= 0.10. I didn't find a unique identifier for prior versions.

P.s.: I am posting that answer here since the question lead me here, although the OP was searching for an answer to a different question.


Yet another environment detection:

(Meaning: most of the answers here are alright.)

function isNode() {
    return typeof global === 'object'
        && String(global) === '[object global]'
        && typeof process === 'object'
        && String(process) === '[object process]'
        && global === global.GLOBAL // circular ref
        // cannot be altered, unlike process.title
        && /node|io\.js/.test(
        && typeof setImmediate === 'function'
        && setImmediate.length === 4
        && typeof __dirname === 'string'
        && Should I go on ?..

A bit paranoid right? You can make this more verbose by checking for more globals.

But DON'T!.

All these above can be faked/simulated anyway.

For example to fake the global object:

global = {
    toString: function () {
        return '[object global]';
    GLOBAL: global,
    setImmediate: function (a, b, c, d) {}
 setImmediate = function (a, b, c, d) {};

This won't get attached to the Node's original global object but it will get attached to the window object in a browser. So it'll imply that you're in Node env inside a browser.

Life is short!

Do we care if our environment is faked? It'd happen when some stupid developer declare a global variable called global in the global scope. Or some evil dev injects code in our env somehow.

We may prevent our code from executing when we catch this but lots of other dependencies of our app might get caught into this. So eventually the code will break. If your code is good enough, you should not care for each and every silly mistake that could have been done by others.

So what?

If targeting 2 environments: Browser and Node;
"use strict"; and either simply check for window or global; and clearly indicate that in the docs that your code supports only these environments. That's it!

var isBrowser = typeof window !== 'undefined'
    && ({}) === '[object Window]';

var isNode = typeof global !== "undefined" 
    && ({}) === '[object global]';

If possible for your use case; instead of environment detection; do synchronous feature detection within a try/catch block. (these will take a few milliseconds to execute).


function isPromiseSupported() {
    var supported = false;
    try {
        var p = new Promise(function (res, rej) {});
        supported = true;
    } catch (e) {}
    return supported;

Most of the proposed solutions can actually be faked. A robust way is to check the internal Class property of the global object using the Object.prototype.toString. The internal class can't be faked in JavaScript:

var isNode = 
    typeof global !== "undefined" && 
    {} == '[object global]';

What about using the process object and checking execPath for node?


This is the absolute pathname of the executable that started the process.




Here's my variation on what's above:

(function(publish) {
    "use strict";

    function House(no) { = no;

    House.prototype.toString = function() {
        return "House #";


})((typeof module == 'undefined' || (typeof window != 'undefined' && this == window))
    ? function(a) {this["House"] = a;}
    : function(a) {module.exports = a;});

To use it, you modify the "House" on the second last line to be whatever you want the name of the module to be in the browser and publish whatever you want the value of the module to be (usually a constructor or an object literal).

In browsers the global object is window, and it has a reference to itself (there's a window.window which is == window). It seems to me that this is unlikely to occur unless you're in a browser or in an environment that wants you to believe you're in a browser. In all other cases, if there is a global 'module' variable declared, it uses that otherwise it uses the global object.


Node.js has process object, so as long as You don't have any other script which create process You can use it to determine if code runs on Node.

var isOnNodeJs = false;
if(typeof process != "undefined") {
  isOnNodeJs = true;

  console.log("you are running under node.js");
else {
  console.log("you are NOT running under node.js");

This is a pretty safe and straight-forward way of assuring compatibility between server-side and client-side javascript, that will also work with browserify, RequireJS or CommonJS included client-side:


  // `this` now refers to `global` if we're in NodeJS
  // or `window` if we're in the browser.

  return (typeof module !== "undefined" &&
    module.exports &&
    typeof window === 'undefined') ?
    global : window;
const isNode =
  typeof process !== 'undefined' &&
  process.versions != null &&
  process.versions.node != null;

From the source of debug package:

const isBrowser = typeof process === 'undefined' || process.type === 'renderer' || process.browser === true || process.__nwjs


Take the source of node.js and change it to define a variable like runningOnNodeJS. Check for that variable in your code.

If you can't have your own private version of node.js, open a feature request in the project. Ask that they define a variable which gives you the version of node.js that you're running in. Then check for that variable.


Very old post, but i just solved it by wrapping the require statements in a try - catch

try {
     var fs = require('fs')
} catch(e) {
     alert('you are not in node !!!')

I think its quite simple.

     if (typeof process !== 'undefined' process && process.title === 'node') {
        // Your code here

The problem with trying to figure out what environment your code is running in is that any object can be modified and declared making it close to impossible to figure out which objects are native to the environment, and which have been modified by the program.

However, there are a few tricks we can use to figure out for sure what environment you are in.

Lets start out with the generally accepted solution that's used in the underscore library:

typeof module !== 'undefined' && module.exports

This technique is actually perfectly fine for the server side, as when the require function is called, it resets the this object to an empty object, and redefines module for you again, meaning you don't have to worry about any outside tampering. As long as your code is loaded in with require, you are safe.

However, this falls apart on the browser, as anyone can easily define module to make it seem like it's the object you are looking for. On one hand this might be the behavior you want, but it also dictates what variables the library user can use in the global scope. Maybe someone wants to use a variable with the name module that has exports inside of it for another use. It's unlikely, but who are we to judge what variables someone else can use, just because another environment uses that variable name?

The trick however, is that if we are assuming that your script is being loaded in the global scope (which it will be if it's loaded via a script tag) a variable cannot be reserved in an outer closure, because the browser does not allow that. Now remember in node, the this object is an empty object, yet, the module variable is still available. That is because it's declared in an outer closure. So we can then fix underscore's check by adding an extra check:

this.module !== module

With this, if someone declares module in the global scope in the browser, it will be placed in the this object, which will cause the test to fail, because this.module, will be the same object as module. On node, this.module does not exist, and module exists within an outer closure, so the test will succeed, as they are not equivalent.

Thus, the final test is:

typeof module !== 'undefined' && this.module !== module

Note: While this now allows the module variable to be used freely in the global scope, it is still possible to bypass this on the browser by creating a new closure and declaring module within that, then loading the script within that closure. At that point the user is fully replicating the node environment and hopefully knows what they are doing and is trying to do a node style require. If the code is called in a script tag, it will still be safe from any new outer closures.


The following works in the browser unless intentionally,explicitly sabotaged:

if(typeof process === 'object' && process + '' === '[object process]'){
    // is node
    // not node



Here's a pretty cool way to do it as well:

const isBrowser = this.window === this;

This works because in browsers the global 'this' variable has a self reference called 'window'. This self reference is not existent in Node.

  • In the browser 'this' is a reference to the global object, called 'window'.
  • In Node 'this' is a reference to the module.exports object.
    • 'this' is not a reference to the Node global object, called 'global'.
    • 'this' is not a reference to the the module variable declaration space.

To break the above suggested browser check you would have to do something like the following

this.window = this;

before executing the check.


How can a script tell whether it has been required as a commonjs module?

Related: to check whether it has been required as a module vs run directly in node, you can check require.main !== module.


I'm using process to check for node.js like so

if (typeof(process) !== 'undefined' && process.version === 'v0.9.9') {
  console.log('You are running Node.js');
} else {
  // check for browser


if (typeof(process) !== 'undefined' && process.title === 'node') {
  console.log('You are running Node.js');
} else {
  // check for browser

Documented here


Edit: Regarding your updated question: "How can a script tell whether it has been required as a commonjs module?" I don't think it can. You can check whether exports is an object (if (typeof exports === "object")), since the spec requires that it be provided to modules, but all that tells you is that ... exports is an object. :-)

Original answer:

I'm sure there's some NodeJS-specific symbol (EventEmitter, perhaps no, you have to use require to get the events module; see below) that you could check for, but as David said, ideally you're better off detecting the feature (rather than environment) if it makes any sense to do so.

Update: Perhaps something like:

if (typeof require === "function"
    && typeof Buffer === "function"
    && typeof Buffer.byteLength === "function"
    && typeof Buffer.prototype !== "undefined"
    && typeof Buffer.prototype.write === "function") {

But that just tells you that you're in an environment with require and something very, very much like NodeJS's Buffer. :-)


As of this writing, this answer is more of a "coming soon" option, seeing as it leverages very new features of JavaScript.

const runtime = globalThis.process?.release?.name || 'not node'

The runtime value will be either node or not node.

As mentioned, this relies on a few new JavaScript features. globalThis is a finalized feature in the ECMAScript 2020 spec. Optional chaining/nullish coalescing (the ? part of globalThis.process?.release?.name) is supported in the V8 engine, which ships with Chrome 80. As of 4/8/2020, this code will work in the browser but will not work in Node since the Node 13 branch uses V8 I believe Node 14 (due for release on 4/21/2020) is supposed to use V8 8.x+.

This approach comes with a healthy dose of current restrictions. However; the pace at which browsers/Node are released, it will eventually be a reliable one-liner.


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