Manage packages using the nuget.exe CLI

The CLI tool allows you to easily update and restore NuGet packages in projects and solutions. This tool provides all NuGet capabilities on Windows, and also provides most features on Mac and Linux when running under Mono.

The nuget.exe CLI is for your .NET Framework project and non-SDK-style projects (for example, a non-SDK style project that targets .NET Standard libraries). If you are using a non-SDK-style project that has been migrated to PackageReference, use the dotnet CLI instead. The nuget.exe CLI requires a packages.config file for package references.


In most scenarios, we recommend migrating non-SDK-style projects that use packages.config to PackageReference, and then you can use the dotnet CLI instead of the nuget.exe CLI. Migration is not currently available for C++ and ASP.NET projects.

This article shows you basic usage for a few of the most common nuget.exe CLI commands. For most of these commands, the CLI tool looks for a project file in the current directory, unless a project file is specified in the command. For a complete list of commands and the arguments you may use, see the nuget.exe CLI reference.


  • Install the nuget.exe CLI by downloading it from, saving that .exe file to a suitable folder, and adding that folder to your PATH environment variable.

Install a package

The install command downloads and installs a package into a project, defaulting to the current folder, using specified package sources. Install new packages into the packages folder in your project root directory.


The installcommand does not modify a project file or packages.config; in this way it's similar to restore in that it only adds packages to disk but does not change a project's dependencies. To add a dependency, either add a package through the Package Manager UI or Console in Visual Studio, or modify packages.config and then run either install or restore.

  1. Open a command line and switch to the directory that contains your project file.

  2. Use the following command to install a NuGet package to the packages folder.

    nuget install <packageID> -OutputDirectory packages

    To install the Newtonsoft.json package to the packages folder, use the following command:

    nuget install Newtonsoft.Json -OutputDirectory packages

Alternatively, you can use the following command to install a NuGet package using an existing packages.config file to the packages folder. This does not add the package to your project dependencies, but installs it locally.

nuget install packages.config -OutputDirectory packages

Install a specific version of a package

If the version is not specified when you use the install command, NuGet installs the latest version of the package. You can also install a specific version of a Nuget package:

nuget install <packageID | configFilePath> -Version <version>

For example, to add version 12.0.1 of the Newtonsoft.json package, use this command:

nuget install Newtonsoft.Json -Version 12.0.1

For more information on the limitations and behavior of install, see Install a package.

Remove a package

To delete one or more packages, delete the packages you want to remove from the packages folder.

If you want to reinstall packages, use the restore or install command.

List packages

You can display a list of packages from a given source using the list command. Use the -Source option to restrict the search.

nuget list -Source <source>

For example, list packages in the packages folder.

nuget list -Source C:\Users\username\source\repos\MyProject\packages

If you use a search term, the search includes names of packages, tags, and package descriptions.

nuget list <search term>

Update an individual package

NuGet installs the latest version of the package when you use the install command unless you specify the package version.

Update all packages

Use the update command to update all packages. Updates all packages in a project (using packages.config) to their latest available versions. It is recommended to run restore before running update.

nuget update

Restore packages

Use the restore command, which downloads and installs any packages missing from the packages folder.

For projects migrated to PackageReference, use msbuild -t:restore to restore packages instead.

restore only adds packages to disk but does not change a project's dependencies. To restore project dependencies, modify packages.config, then use the restore command.

As with the other nuget.exe CLI commands, first open a command line and switch to the directory that contains your project file.

To restore a package using restore:

nuget restore MySolution.sln

Get the CLI version

Use this command:

nuget help

The first line in the help output shows the version. To avoid scrolling up, use nuget help | more instead.