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Awesome Open Source

node-watch Status

A wrapper and enhancements for



npm install node-watch


var watch = require('node-watch');

watch('file_or_dir', { recursive: true }, function(evt, name) {
  console.log('%s changed.', name);

Now it's fast to watch deep directories on macOS and Windows, since the recursive option is natively supported except on Linux.

// watch the whole disk
watch('/', { recursive: true }, console.log);


  • Some editors will generate temporary files which will cause the callback function to be triggered multiple times.
  • The callback function will only be triggered once on watching a single file.
  • Missing an option to watch a directory recursively.
  • Recursive watch is not supported on Linux or in older versions of nodejs.
  • Keep it simple, stupid.


The usage and options of node-watch are compatible with

  • persistent: Boolean (default true)
  • recursive: Boolean (default false)
  • encoding: String (default 'utf8')

Extra options

  • filter: RegExp | Function

    Return that matches the filter expression.

    // filter with regular expression
    watch('./', { filter: /\.json$/ });
    // filter with custom function
    watch('./', { filter: f => !/node_modules/.test(f) });
  • delay: Number (in ms, default 200)

    Delay time of the callback function.

    // log after 5 seconds
    watch('./', { delay: 5000 }, console.log);


The events provided by the callback function is either update or remove, which is less confusing to's rename or change.

watch('./', function(evt, name) {

  if (evt == 'update') {
    // on create or modify

  if (evt == 'remove') {
    // on delete


Watcher object

The watch function returns a fs.FSWatcher like object as the same as (>= v0.4.0).

Watcher events

watcher.on('change', function(evt, name) {
  // callback

watcher.on('error', function(err) {
  // handle error

watcher.on('ready', function() {
  // the watcher is ready to respond to changes


// close

// is closed?

List of methods

  • .on
  • .once
  • .emit
  • .close
  • .listeners
  • .setMaxListeners
  • .getMaxListeners
Extra methods
  • .isClosed detect if the watcher is closed

Known issues

Windows, node < v4.2.5

  • Failed to detect remove event
  • Failed to get deleted filename or directory name

MacOS, node 0.10.x

  • Will emit double event if the directory name is of one single character.


1. Watch multiple files or directories in one place

watch(['file1', 'file2'], console.log);

2. Customize watch command line tool

#!/usr/bin/env node


var watcher = require('node-watch')(
  process.argv[2] || './', { recursive: true }, console.log

process.on('SIGINT', watcher.close);

Monitoring chrome from disk:

$ watch / | grep -i chrome

3. Got ENOSPC error?

If you get ENOSPC error, but you actually have free disk space - it means that your OS watcher limit is too low and you probably want to recursively watch a big tree of files.

Follow this description to increase the limit:



Thanks goes to these wonderful people (emoji key):

Yuan Chuan

💻 📖 ⚠️

Greg Thornton

💻 🤔

Amir Arad

💻 📖 ⚠️

Gary Burgess


Peter deHaan






Steve Shreeve


Blake Regalia


Mike Collins


Timo Tijhof


Bailey Herbert


Anthony Rey


This project follows the all-contributors specification. Contributions of any kind welcome!



Copyright (c) 2020 yuanchuan

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