If you’re using multiple versions for each of your projects, you might use the nvm use command every time you need to switch. This gets old very fast and nvm doesn’t have a native solution for this problem.

The NVM documentation ⧉ has a dedicated section for this. You can go and read them there or continue reading for a curated version.

Manual Switch

The manual switch involves a file called .nvmrc in your project’s directory.

echo "5.9" > .nvmrc
echo "lts/*" > .nvmrc # to default to the latest LTS version

In order to switch, you’ll need to run nvm use but if you cd outside of the directory, the version is not going to switch back to your default.


  • No additional setup or environment mods.
  • You can commit the file to be shared with peers.
  • Control over the version switch: how and when.


  • No automatic switch when cd’ing into the project.
  • No default restore when cd’ing outside the project.

Automatic Switch

The automatic switch will switch your node version automatically when you cd into a project folder that contains the .nvmrc file. You’ll need to have zsh as a shell to make this work.

Add the following content at the end of your .zshrc file, after the nvm initialization.

# place this after nvm initialization!
autoload -U add-zsh-hook
load-nvmrc() {
  if [[ -f .nvmrc && -r .nvmrc ]]; then
    nvm use
  elif [[ $(nvm version) != $(nvm version default)  ]]; then
    echo "Reverting to nvm default version"
    nvm use default
add-zsh-hook chpwd load-nvmrc

Now every time you cd into a directory you’ll switch to the project version if it has the .nvmrc inside with a valid version.

If you go out of the directory or cd into a directory that doesn’t have the version file, your shell will use the default one in your system.


  • Automatic switch inside and outside project specific versions.
  • Automatic default version switch if no version is specified.


  • ZSH dependency.
  • Additional script block in local machine.

That’s it for now, please add in the comments if you’re familiar with another solution.