Package Manager Console

The NuGet Package Manager Console, which is build into Visual Studio version 2012 and later, lets you use NuGet PowerShell commands to find, install, uninstall, and update NuGet packages. Using the console is necessary in cases where the Package Manager UI does not provide a way to perform an operation.

All operations that are available in the console can also be done with the NuGet CLI. However, console commands operate within the context of Visual Studio and often accomplish more than their equivalent CLI commands. For example, installing a package through the console adds a reference to the project whereas the CLI command does not. For this reason, developers working in Visual Studio typically prefer using the console to the CLI.

In this topic:

Tip

Many console operations depend on having a solution opened in Visual Studio with a known path name. If you have an unsaved solution, or no solution, you can see the error, "Solution is not opened or not saved. Please ensure you have an open and saved solution." This indicates that the console cannot determine the solution folder. Saving an unsaved solution, or creating and saving a solution if you don't have one open, should correct the error.

Availability of the console

In Visual Studio 2017, NuGet and the NuGet Package Manager are automatically installed when you select any .NET-related workloads; you can also install it individually by checking the Individual components > Code tools > NuGet package manager option in the Visual Studio 2017 installer.

Also, if you're missing the NuGet Package Manager in Visual Studio 2015 and earlier, check Tools > Extensions and Updates... and search for the NuGet Package Manager extension. If you're unable to use the extensions installer in Visual Studio, you can download the extension directly from https://dist.nuget.org/index.html.

The Package Manager Console it is not presently available with Visual Studio for Mac. The equivalent commands, however, are available through the NuGet CLI. Visual Studio for Mac does have a UI managing NuGet packages. See Including a NuGet package in your project.

Opening the console and console controls

Open the console in Visual Studio using the Tools > NuGet Package Manager > Package Manager Console command. The console is a Visual Studio window that can be arranged and positioned however you like (see Customize window layouts in Visual Studio).

By default, console commands operate against a specific package source and project as set in the control at the top of the window:

Package Manager Console controls for package source and project

Selecting a different package source and/or project changes those defaults for subsequent commands. To overrride these settings without changing the defaults, most commands support -Source and -ProjectName options.

To manage package sources, select the gear icon. This is a shortcut to the Tools > Options > NuGet Package Manager > Package Sources dialog box as described on the Package Manager UI page. Also, the control to the right of the project selector clears the console's contents:

Package Manager Console settings and clear controls

Finally, the rightmost button interrupts a long-running command. For example, running Get-Package -ListAvailable -PageSize 500 lists the top 500 packages on the default source (such as nuget.org), which could take several minutes to run.

Package Manager Console stop control

Finding a package

To see the packages available from the selected source, use the Get-Package -ListAvailable command. For nuget.org, the list contains thousands of packages, so it's helpful to use the -Filter switch along with -PageSize to limit the results. In NuGet 3+, you can instead use the Find-Package command that is better suited to this operation.

Examples:

# Show specific packages (all versions of NuGet)
Get-Package -ListAvailable -Filter elmah
Get-Package -ListAvailable -Filter Logging

# List all versions of packages matching the filter "jquery"
Get-Package -ListAvailable -Filter jquery -AllVersions

# List the top 100 packages
Get-Package -ListAvailable -PageSize 100


# Find-Package in NuGet 3+ is more efficient than Get-Package
Find-Package elmah
Find-Package Logging

# List packages with the keyword EntityFramework and version 6.1.1
Find-Package EntityFramework -version 6.1.1

# List all versions of the package with the ID of "jquery"
Find-Package jquery -AllVersions -ExactMatch

Installing a package

Once you know the identifier of the package you want to install, use the Install-Package command. This command adds the package to the default project as specified in the console's project selector. To install the package into a different project, use the -ProjectName switch:

# Add the Elmah package to the default project
Install-Package Elmah

# Add the Elmah package to a project named UtilitiesLib that is not the default
Install-Package Elmah -ProjectName UtilitiesLib

Installing a package performs the following actions:

  • Displays applicable license terms in the console window with implied agreement. If you do not agree to the terms, you should uninstall the package immediately.
  • Adds a reference to the project in whatever reference format is in use. References subsequently appear in Solution Explorer and the applicable reference format file. Note, however, that with PackageReference, you need to save the project to see the changes in the project file directly.
  • Caches the package in the project depending on the reference format in use:
    • packages.config: creates a packages folder and copies package files into a subfolder within it.
    • project.json: package is cached within project.lock.json
    • PackageReference: package is cached within or project.assets.json
  • Updates app.config and/or web.config if the package uses source and config file transformations.
  • Installs any dependencies if not already present in the project. This might update package versions in the process, as described in Dependency Resolution.
  • Displays the package's readme file, if available, in a Visual Studio window.
Tip

One of the primary advantages of installing packages with the Install-Package command in the console is that adds a reference to the project just as of you used the Package Manager UI. In contrast, the nuget install CLI command only downloads the package and does not automatically add a reference.

Uninstalling a package

If you do not already know the name of the package you want to remove, use the Get-Package command with no arguments to see all of the packages currently installed in the default project.

To uninstall a package, use Uninstall-Package with the package ID, such as Uninstall-Package jQuery.

Uninstalling a package performs the following actions:

  • Removes references to the package from the project (and whatever reference format is in use). References no longer appear in Solution Explorer. (You might need to rebuild the project to see it removed from the Bin folder.)
  • Removes the package from the project cache (packages folder, project.lock.json, or project.assets.json)
  • Reverses any changes made to app.config or web.config when the package was installed.
  • Removes previously-installed dependencies if no remaining packages use those dependencies.
Tip

Like Install-Package, the Uninstall-Package command has the benefit of managing references in the project, unlike the nuget uninstall CLI command.

Updating a package

The Get-Package -updates command checks if there are newer versions available for any installed packages.

To update a package, use Update-Package with the package ID, such as Update-Package jQuery.

To update all packages in the project, use Update-Package -ProjectName <project_name>; to update all packages in the solution, use Update-Package with no arguments.

Extending the Package Manager Console

Some packages install new commands for the console. For example, MvcScaffolding creates commands like Scaffold shown below, which generates ASP.NET MVC controllers and views:

Installing and using MvcScaffold

Setting up a NuGet PowerShell Profile

A PowerShell profile lets you make commonly-used commands available wherever you use PowerShell. NuGet supports a NuGet-specific profile typically found at the following location:

%UserProfile%\Documents\WindowsPowerShell\NuGet_profile.ps1

To find the profile, type $profile in the console:

$profile
C:\Users\<user>\Documents\WindowsPowerShell\NuGet_profile.ps1

For more details, refer to Windows PowerShell Profiles.