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How to fix "__dirname is not defined in ES module scope"

Published Apr 18 2022

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I stumbled on this error while I used __dirname inside a ES module.

In an ES module, you cannot use __dirname.

Using __dirname in a Node script you can get the path of the folder where the current JavaScript file resides, and many Node.js projects use this.

But if you use it inside an ES module, you can’t use this, as the infamous “__dirname is not defined in ES module scope” error shows up.

What can you do in this case?

I solved this problem by using a solution I found on the Node.js GitHub issues.

You first need to import the Node.js path module and the fileURLToPath function from the url module:

import path from 'path';
import { fileURLToPath } from 'url';

Then you can replicate the functionality of __dirname in this way:

const __filename = fileURLToPath(import.meta.url);

const __dirname = path.dirname(__filename);

This, incidentally, also replicates __filename, which returns the filename of the code which is executed.

Now you can use __dirname as usual:


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