Install NuGet client tools

Looking to install a package? See Ways to install NuGet packages.

To work with NuGet, as a package consumer or creator, you can use command-line interface (CLI) tools as well as NuGet features in Visual Studio. This article briefly outlines the capabilities of the different tools, how to install them, and their comparative feature availability. To get started using NuGet to consume packages, see Install and use a package (dotnet CLI) and Install and use a package (Visual Studio). To get started creating NuGet packages, see Create and publish a NET Standard package (dotnet CLI) and Create and publish a NET Standard package (Visual Studio).

Tool                Description Download         
dotnet.exe CLI tool for .NET Core and .NET Standard libraries, and for any SDK-style project such as one that targets .NET Framework. Included with the .NET Core SDK and provides core NuGet features on all platforms. (Starting in Visual Studio 2017, the dotnet CLI is automatically installed with any .NET Core related workloads.) .NET Core SDK
nuget.exe CLI tool for .NET Framework libraries and for any non-SDK-style project such as one that targets .NET Standard libraries. Provides all NuGet capabilities on Windows, provides most features on Mac and Linux when running under Mono. nuget.exe
Visual Studio On Windows, provides NuGet capabilities through the Package Manager UI and Package Manager Console; included with .NET-related workloads. On Mac, provides certain features through the UI. In Visual Studio Code, NuGet features are provided through extensions. Visual Studio

The MSBuild CLI also provides the ability to restore and create packages, which is primarily useful on build servers. MSBuild is not a general-purpose tool for working with NuGet.

CLI tools

The two NuGet CLI tools are dotnet.exe and nuget.exe. See feature availability for a comparison.

  • To target .NET Core or .NET Standard, use the dotnet CLI. The dotnet CLI is required for the SDK-style project format, which uses the SDK attribute.
  • To target .NET Framework (non-SDK-style project only), use the nuget.exe CLI. If the project is migrated from packages.config to PackageReference, use the dotnet CLI.

dotnet.exe CLI

The .NET Core 2.0 CLI, dotnet.exe, works on all platforms (Windows, Mac, and Linux) and provides core NuGet features such as installing, restoring, and publishing packages. dotnet provides direct integration with .NET Core project files (such as .csproj), which is helpful in most scenarios. dotnet is also built directly for each platform and does not require you to install Mono.

Installation:

To learn how to use basic commands with the dotnet CLI, see Install and use packages using the dotnet CLI.

nuget.exe CLI

The nuget.exe CLI, nuget.exe, is the command-line utility for Windows that provides all NuGet capabilities; it can also be run on Mac OSX and Linux using Mono with some limitations.

To learn how to use basic commands with the nuget.exe CLI, see Install and use packages using the nuget.exe CLI.

Installation:

Windows

Note

NuGet.exe 5.0 and later require .NET Framework 4.7.2 or later to execute.

  1. Visit nuget.org/downloads and select NuGet 3.3 or higher (2.8.6 is not compatible with Mono). The latest version is always recommended, and 4.1.0+ is required to publish packages to nuget.org.
  2. Each download is the nuget.exe file directly. Instruct your browser to save the file to a folder of your choice. The file is not an installer; you won't see anything if you run it directly from the browser.
  3. Add the folder where you placed nuget.exe to your PATH environment variable to use the CLI tool from anywhere.

macOS/Linux

Behaviors may vary slightly by OS distribution.

  1. Install Mono 4.4.2 or later.

  2. Execute the following command at a shell prompt:

    # Download the latest stable `nuget.exe` to `/usr/local/bin`
    sudo curl -o /usr/local/bin/nuget.exe https://dist.nuget.org/win-x86-commandline/latest/nuget.exe
    
  3. Create an alias by adding the following script to the appropriate file for your OS (typically ~/.bash_aliases or ~/.bash_profile):

    # Create as alias for nuget
    alias nuget="mono /usr/local/bin/nuget.exe"
    
  4. Reload the shell. Test the installation by entering nuget with no parameters. NuGet CLI help should display.

Tip

Use nuget update -self on Windows to update an existing nuget.exe to the latest version.

Note

The latest recommended NuGet CLI is always available at https://dist.nuget.org/win-x86-commandline/latest/nuget.exe. For compatibility purposes with older continuous integration systems, a previous URL, https://nuget.org/nuget.exe currently provides the deprecated 2.8.6 CLI tool.

Visual Studio

  • Visual Studio Code: NuGet capabilities are available through marketplace extensions, or use the dotnet.exe or nuget.exe CLI tools.

  • Visual Studio for Mac: certain NuGet capabilities are built in directly. See Including a NuGet package in your project for a walkthrough. For other capabilities, use the dotnet.exe or nuget.exe CLI tools.

  • Visual Studio on Windows: The NuGet Package Manager is included with Visual Studio 2012 and later. Visual Studio provides the Package Manager UI and the Package Manager Console, through which you can run most NuGet operations.

    • Starting in Visual Studio 2017, the installer includes the NuGet Package Manager with any workload that employs .NET. To install separately, or to verify that the Package Manager is installed, run the Visual Studio installer and check the option under Individual Components > Code tools > NuGet package manager.
    • The Package Manager UI and Console are unique to Visual Studio on Windows. They are not presently available on Visual Studio for Mac.
    • A CLI tool is required to support NuGet features in the IDE. You can use either the dotnet CLI or the the nuget.exe CLI. The dotnet CLI is installed with some Visual Studio workloads, such as .NET Core. The nuget.exe CLI must be installed separately as described earlier.
    • Package Manager Console commands work only within Visual Studio on Windows and do not work within other PowerShell environments.
    • For Visual Studio 2010 and earlier, install the "NuGet Package Manager for Visual Studio" extension.
    • NuGet Extensions for Visual Studio 2013 and 2015 can also be downloaded from https://dist.nuget.org/index.html.
    • If you'd like to preview upcoming NuGet features, install a Visual Studio Preview, which works side-by-side with stable releases of Visual Studio. To report problems or share ideas for previews, open an issue on the NuGet GitHub repository.

Feature availability

Feature dotnet CLI nuget CLI (Windows) nuget CLI (Mono) Visual Studio (Windows) Visual Studio for Mac
Search packages
Install/uninstall packages ✔(1)
Update packages
Restore packages ✔(2)
Manage package feeds (sources)
Manage packages on a feed
Set API keys for feeds
Create packages(3) ✔(4)
Publish packages
Replicate packages
Manage global-package and cache folders
Manage NuGet configuration

(1) Does not affect project files; use dotnet.exe instead.

(2) Works only with packages.config file and not with solution (.sln) files.

(3) Various advanced package features are available through the CLI only as they aren't represented in the Visual Studio UI tools.

(4) Works with .nuspec files but not with project files.

Developers working on Windows can also explore the NuGet Package Explorer, an open-source, stand-alone tool to visually explore, create, and edit NuGet packages. It's very helpful, for example, to make experimental changes to a package structure without rebuilding the package.