Webpack Is Not Recognized As An Internal Or External Command

When you’re setting up your JavaScript project, webpack plays an essential role in bundling assets, handling dependencies, and optimizing your code for performance. However, sometimes developers run into the dreaded issue: “webpack is not recognized as an internal or external command.”

This guide aims to provide you with a thorough understanding of why this issue occurs and how to solve it effectively. We’ll discuss common causes, examine potential solutions, and give you the tools to troubleshoot and resolve this problem like a pro.

Common Causes of the Issue

Environment Path Misconfiguration

Webpack may not be properly set in your system’s environment PATH. As a result, your shell or command prompt doesn’t know where to find it.

Local vs Global Installation

You might have installed Webpack locally in your project but are trying to run it as if it’s globally available, or vice versa.

Incorrect Webpack Installation

Webpack installation could be corrupt or incomplete, making the command unavailable.

Version Conflicts

There could be conflicts between different versions of Webpack or its dependencies.

How to Troubleshoot the Issue

Check if Webpack is Installed

Firstly, let’s check whether webpack is installed on your system. Run the following command:

npm list webpack -g

or for local installations:

npm list webpack


  • If the command shows webpack along with its version, it means it’s installed.
  • If it’s not showing anything or displays an error, you might need to install or reinstall it.

Step-by-Step Solutions to Fix the Issue

1. Install Webpack Globally

If you want Webpack to be available system-wide, you can install it globally. This makes it accessible from any directory.

npm install -g webpack

2. Install Webpack Locally

For project-specific use, it’s often a better idea to install Webpack locally. This way, you can manage versions per project.

npm install --save-dev webpack


Installing it locally requires you to run it from within the project directory where it was installed, or use it in npm scripts specified in package.json.

3. Update Environment Variables (Windows)

If you’re on a Windows system and installed Webpack globally, make sure the path to global npm packages is added to your System Environment Variables.


  1. Search for “Environment Variables” in the Start menu.
  2. Choose “Edit the system environment variables.”
  3. In the “System Properties” dialog, click “Environment Variables.”
  4. Add the path to global npm packages to the Path variable.

4. Use npx to Run Webpack

The npx command allows you to run locally-installed packages. Simply use:

npx webpack

This will search for a local installation of webpack and run it.

Best Practices to Avoid the Issue

To avoid running into this problem in the future, consider adopting the following best practices:

1. Use Local Installation for Project-Specific Needs

Local installations help you manage package versions on a per-project basis. This can mitigate the issue of version conflicts.

2. Utilize package.json Scripts

You can specify Webpack commands within the scripts section of your package.json. This allows you to run Webpack commands locally, even if it’s not installed globally.

  "scripts": {
    "build": "webpack --config webpack.config.js"

To run the script, you can use:

npm run build

3. Keep Your Global Packages Updated

Regularly update your globally installed packages, including Webpack, to keep them in good shape.

npm update -g webpack

4. Check Dependencies Regularly

Run npm outdated to see which packages have newer versions available. This will help you maintain your project’s dependencies and ensure they’re compatible with each other.

Webpack: Command Not Found Error

While the “webpack is not recognized as an internal or external command” is an issue commonly seen on Windows systems, the “webpack: command not found” error usually appears on UNIX-based systems like macOS and Linux. However, both errors are similar in nature and often have the same underlying causes.

Key Differences Between the Errors

  • Platform-Specific: This error is more common on UNIX-based operating systems.
  • Error Message: The error message specifically states “command not found,” which is a typical UNIX error when the system can’t locate a command.

Solutions for UNIX Systems

1. Install Webpack Globally

On UNIX systems, installing packages globally might require administrative permissions. Use sudo if necessary:

sudo npm install -g webpack

2. Local Installation and Execution

For local project-specific installations, you can use the same approach as on Windows systems.

npm install --save-dev webpack
npx webpack

3. Check User Permissions

On UNIX systems, it’s crucial to ensure that you have the correct permissions for installing packages globally. If you’re encountering issues, consider using a Node version manager like nvm to manage permissions more effectively.

4. Modify Shell Profile

If you’re still facing issues, you might need to add the npm global binaries path to your shell profile file (like .bashrc or .zshrc).

To find the path for npm global binaries, you can run:

npm config get prefix

Then, add the following line to your shell profile:

export PATH=$PATH:/path_to_npm_global_binaries/bin

Replace path_to_npm_global_binaries with the actual path you got from the npm config get prefix command.

Webpack-Dev-Server: Command Not Found Error

Similar to the webpack command, you may encounter the “webpack-dev-server: command not found” error when trying to launch your development server. This is particularly annoying because webpack-dev-server is a powerful tool that provides live reloading and other convenient development features.

Understanding the Issue

The error suggests that the system is unable to locate the webpack-dev-server command, which could be due to a variety of reasons, such as a flawed installation or path issues.

Common Causes and Solutions

1. Check Installation

First, verify if webpack-dev-server is installed in your project. Run:

npm list webpack-dev-server

If it’s not installed, you can add it to your project:

npm install --save-dev webpack-dev-server

2. Use npx or npm Scripts

Just like with the webpack command, using npx can bypass the issue:

npx webpack-dev-server

Or you can add it to your package.json scripts:

  "scripts": {
    "start": "webpack-dev-server --config webpack.config.js"

And then run:

npm start

3. Global Installation (Not Recommended)

While you can install webpack-dev-server globally, it’s generally not recommended due to version conflicts with local projects. However, if you choose to do so:

npm install -g webpack-dev-server

4. Check Path Configuration (UNIX)

If you’re on a UNIX-based system, make sure the path to the npm global binaries directory is added to your shell profile as explained in the previous section.

The “webpack-dev-server: command not found” issue is often easily solved once you know what to look for. By ensuring proper installation and utilizing npx or npm scripts, you can efficiently resolve this issue.


Troubleshooting issues related to Webpack commands can be a daunting task, especially if you’re new to the environment or the problem seems insurmountable. However, as we’ve seen, solutions do exist for a variety of scenarios—whether you’re on a Windows or UNIX-based system, or dealing with either webpack or webpack-dev-server.

Key Takeaways

  • Check Your Installation: Always confirm if Webpack or Webpack-Dev-Server is properly installed.
  • Local vs Global: Understand the implications of installing packages globally versus locally. Aim for local installations to avoid version conflicts.
  • Use npx and npm Scripts: Utilize npx and npm scripts in your package.json to run local installations effortlessly.
  • Best Practices: Stick to best practices like using package.json scripts and regularly updating your packages to avoid such issues in the future.

By following this comprehensive guide about the “webpack is not recognized as an internal or external command”, you should now be well-equipped to troubleshoot and resolve issues related to the Webpack command not being recognized. With the right steps and a little patience, you’ll find that these issues are often straightforward to resolve, leaving you more time for the important part—coding.

Related Posts: