How to Fix “__dirname is not Defined” Error in ES Module Scope


In the world of JavaScript development, ES Modules (ESM) have become a popular choice for organizing and structuring code. However, when working with ES Modules, you might encounter the “__dirname is not defined” error, especially if you are accustomed to using it in CommonJS modules. This article will guide you through understanding the issue and provide solutions to resolve it.

Understanding the Issue: In CommonJS modules, “__dirname” is a special variable that holds the directory name of the current module. However, in ES Modules, this variable is not available by default. This can lead to errors when trying to use “__dirname” in an ES module.


Using import.meta.url and new URL (Node.js 13.2.0 and later): In newer versions of Node.js that support ES Modules, you can leverage import.meta.url along with the new URL API to obtain the directory name.

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

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

Using import.meta.url with File System Module (fs): Another approach is to use the File System module (fs) to extract the directory name.

import { readFileSync, fileURLToPath } from 'url';
import { dirname } from 'path';
import { createRequire } from 'module';

const require = createRequire(import.meta.url);
const __filename = fileURLToPath(import.meta.url);
const __dirname = dirname(require.resolve(__filename));

Setting the "type" Field in package.json: If you are working with Node.js versions that support the "type" field in package.json, you can set it to "module".

  "type": "module",
  "main": "index.js"
  1. With this configuration, Node.js will treat all .js files as ES Modules.


Fixing the “__dirname is not defined” error in ES Module scope is crucial for a smooth transition to modern JavaScript development. By understanding the solutions provided in this article, you can adapt your code to work seamlessly with ES Modules, ensuring compatibility and improved maintainability. Always check the Node.js version you are using, as some features may require specific versions to function correctly.