Package Restore options

To promote a cleaner development environment and to reduce repository size, NuGet Package Restore installs all of a project's dependencies listed in either the project file or packages.config. The .NET Core 2.0+ dotnet build and dotnet run commands do an automatic package restore. Visual Studio can restore packages automatically when it builds a project, and you can restore packages at any time through Visual Studio, nuget restore, dotnet restore, and xbuild on Mono.

Package Restore makes sure that all a project's dependencies are available, without having to store them in source control. To configure your source control repository to exclude the package binaries, see Packages and source control.

Package Restore overview

Package Restore first installs the direct dependencies of a project as needed, then installs any dependencies of those packages throughout the entire dependency graph.

If a package isn't already installed, NuGet first attempts to retrieve it from the cache. If the package isn't in the cache, NuGet tries to download the package from all enabled sources in the list at Tools > Options > NuGet Package Manager > Package Sources in Visual Studio. During restore, NuGet ignores the order of package sources, and uses the package from whichever source is first to respond to requests. For more information about how NuGet behaves, see Common NuGet configurations.


NuGet doesn't indicate a failure to restore a package until all the sources have been checked. At that time, NuGet reports a failure for only the last source in the list. The error implies that the package wasn't present on any of the other sources, even though errors aren't shown for each of those sources individually.

Restore packages

You can trigger Package Restore in any of the following ways:

  • Visual Studio: In Visual Studio on Windows, use one of the following methods.

    • Restore packages automatically. Package Restore happens automatically when you create a project from a template or build a project, subject to the options in Enable and disable package restore. In NuGet 4.0+, restore also happens automatically when you make changes to a SDK-style project (typically a .NET Core or .NET Standard project).

    • Restore packages manually. To restore manually, right-click the solution in Solution Explorer and select Restore NuGet Packages. If one or more individual packages still aren't installed properly, Solution Explorer shows an error icon. Right-click and select Manage NuGet Packages, and use Package Manager to uninstall and reinstall the affected packages. For more information, see Reinstall and update packages

    If you see the error "This project references NuGet package(s) that are missing on this computer," or "One or more NuGet packages need to be restored but couldn't be because consent has not been granted," enable automatic restore. Also, see Migrate to automatic package restore and Package Restore troubleshooting.

  • dotnet CLI: In the command line, switch to the folder that contains your project, and then use the dotnet restore command to restore packages listed in the project file with PackageReference. With .NET Core 2.0 and later, restore happens automatically with the dotnet build and dotnet run commands.

  • nuget.exe CLI: In the command line, switch to the folder that contains your project, and then use the nuget restore command to restore packages listed in a project or solution file, or in packages.config.

  • MSBuild: Use the msbuild -t:restore command to restore packages listed in the project file with PackageReference. This command is available only in NuGet 4.x+ and MSBuild 15.1+, which are included with Visual Studio 2017 and higher versions. Both nuget restore and dotnet restore use this command for applicable projects.

  • Azure Pipelines: When you create a build definition in Azure Pipelines, include the NuGet restore or .NET Core restore task in the definition before any build tasks. Some build templates include the restore task by default.

  • Azure DevOps Server: Azure DevOps Server and TFS 2013 and later automatically restore packages during build, if you're using a TFS 2013 or later Team Build template. For earlier TFS versions, you can include a build step to run a command-line restore option, or optionally migrate the build template to a later version. For more information, see Set up package restore with Team Foundation Build.

Enable and disable package restore (Visual Studio)

In Visual Studio, you control Package Restore primarily through Tools > Options > NuGet Package Manager:

Control Package Restore through NuGet Package Manager options

  • Allow NuGet to download missing packages controls all forms of package restore by changing the packageRestore/enabled setting in the packageRestore section of the NuGet.Config file, at %AppData%\NuGet\ on Windows, or ~/.nuget/NuGet/ on Mac/Linux. This setting also enables the Restore NuGet Packages command on the solution's context menu in Visual Studio, .

            <!-- The 'enabled' key is True when the "Allow NuGet to download missing packages" checkbox is set.
                 Clearing the box sets this to False, disabling command-line, automatic, and MSBuild-integrated restore. -->
            <add key="enabled" value="True" />


    To globally override the packageRestore/enabled setting, set the environment variable EnableNuGetPackageRestore with a value of True or False before launching Visual Studio or starting a build.

  • Automatically check for missing packages during build in Visual Studio controls automatic restore by changing the packageRestore/automatic setting in the packageRestore section of the NuGet.Config file. When this option is set to True, running a build from Visual Studio automatically restores any missing packages. This setting doesn't affect builds run from the MSBuild command line.

            <!-- The 'automatic' key is set to True when the "Automatically check for missing packages during
                 build in Visual Studio" checkbox is set. Clearing the box sets this to False and disables
                 automatic restore. -->
            <add key="automatic" value="True" />

To enable or disable Package Restore for all users on a computer, a developer or company can add the configuration settings to the global nuget.config file. The global nuget.config is in Windows at %ProgramData%\NuGet\Config, sometimes under a specific \{IDE}\{Version}\{SKU}\ Visual Studio folder, or in Mac/Linux at ~/.local/share. Individual users can then selectively enable restore as needed on a project level. For more details on how NuGet prioritizes multiple config files, see Common NuGet configurations.


If you edit the packageRestore settings directly in nuget.config, restart Visual Studio, so that the Options dialog box shows the current values.

Constrain package versions with restore

When NuGet restores packages through any method, it honors any constraints you specified in packages.config or the project file:

  • In packages.config, you can specify a version range in the allowedVersion property of the dependency. See Constrain upgrade versions for more information. For example:

    <package id="Newtonsoft.json" version="6.0.4" allowedVersions="[6,7)" />
  • In a project file, you can use PackageReference to specify a dependency's range directly. For example:

    <PackageReference Include="Newtonsoft.json" Version="[6, 7)" />

In all cases, use the notation described in Package versioning.

Force restore from package sources

By default, NuGet restore operations use packages from the global-packages and http-cache folders, which are described in Manage the global packages and cache folders.

To avoid using the global-packages folder, do one of the following:

  • Clear the folder using nuget locals global-packages -clear or dotnet nuget locals global-packages --clear.
  • Temporarily change the location of the global-packages folder before the restore operation, using one of the following methods:
    • Set the NUGET_PACKAGES environment variable to a different folder.
    • Create a NuGet.Config file that sets globalPackagesFolder (if using PackageReference) or repositoryPath (if using packages.config) to a different folder. For more information, see configuration settings.
    • MSBuild only: Specify a different folder with the RestorePackagesPath property.

To avoid using the cache for HTTP sources, do one of the following:

  • Use the -NoCache option with nuget restore, or the --no-cache option with dotnet restore. These options don't affect restore operations through the Visual Studio Package Manager or console.
  • Clear the cache using nuget locals http-cache -clear or dotnet nuget locals http-cache --clear.
  • Temporarily set the NUGET_HTTP_CACHE_PATH environment variable to a different folder.

Migrate to automatic package restore (Visual Studio)

For NuGet 2.6 and earlier, an MSBuild-integrated package restore was previously supported but that is no longer true. (It was typically enabled by right-clicking a solution in Visual Studio and selecting Enable NuGet Package Restore). If your project uses the deprecated MSBuild-integrated package restore, please migrate to automatic package restore.

Projects that use MSBuild-Integrated package restore typically contain a .nuget folder with three files: NuGet.config, nuget.exe, and NuGet.targets. The presence of a NuGet.targets file determines whether NuGet will continue to use the MSBuild-untegrated approach, so this file must be removed during the migration.

To migrate to automatic package restore:

  1. Close Visual Studio.
  2. Delete .nuget/nuget.exe and .nuget/NuGet.targets.
  3. For each project file, remove the <RestorePackages> element and remove any reference to NuGet.targets.

To test the automatic package restore:

  1. Remove the packages folder from the solution.

  2. Open the solution in Visual Studio and start a build.

    Automatic package restore should download and install each dependency package, without adding them to source control.


See Troubleshoot package restore.