How to execute shell command in Javascript

How to execute shell command in Javascript

I want to write a JavaScript function which will execute the system shell commands (ls for example) and return the value.
How do I achieve this?


Solution 1:

Many of the other answers here seem to address this issue from the perspective of a JavaScript function running in the browser. I’ll shoot and answer assuming that when the asker said “Shell Script” he meant a Node.js backend JavaScript. Possibly using commander.js to use frame your code 🙂

You could use the child_process module from node’s API. I pasted the example code below.

var exec = require('child_process').exec, child;

child = exec('cat *.js bad_file | wc -l',
    function (error, stdout, stderr) {
        console.log('stdout: ' + stdout);
        console.log('stderr: ' + stderr);
        if (error !== null) {
             console.log('exec error: ' + error);

Hope this helps!

Solution 2:

…few year later…

ES6 has been accepted as a standard and ES7 is around the corner so it deserves updated answer. We’ll use ES6+async/await with nodejs+babel as an example, prerequisites are:

Your example foo.js file may look like:

import { exec } from 'child_process';

 * Execute simple shell command (async wrapper).
 * @param {String} cmd
 * @return {Object} { stdout: String, stderr: String }
async function sh(cmd) {
  return new Promise(function (resolve, reject) {
    exec(cmd, (err, stdout, stderr) => {
      if (err) {
      } else {
        resolve({ stdout, stderr });

async function main() {
  let { stdout } = await sh('ls');
  for (let line of stdout.split('\n')) {
    console.log(`ls: ${line}`);


Make sure you have babel:

npm i babel-cli -g

Install latest preset:

npm i babel-preset-latest

Run it via:

babel-node --presets latest foo.js

Solution 3:

This depends entirely on the JavaScript environment. Please elaborate.

For example, in Windows Scripting, you do things like:

var shell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell");
shell.Run("command here");

Solution 4:

In a nutshell:

// Instantiate the Shell object and invoke its execute method.
var oShell = new ActiveXObject("Shell.Application");

var commandtoRun = "C:\\Winnt\\Notepad.exe";
if (inputparms != "") {
  var commandParms = document.Form1.filename.value;

// Invoke the execute method.  
oShell.ShellExecute(commandtoRun, commandParms, "", "open", "1");

Solution 5:

I don’t know why the previous answers gave all sorts of complicated solutions. If you just want to execute a quick command like ls, you don’t need async/await or callbacks or anything. Here’s all you need – execSync:

const execSync = require('child_process').execSync;
// import { execSync } from 'child_process';  // replace ^ if using ES modules
const output = execSync('ls', { encoding: 'utf-8' });  // the default is 'buffer'
console.log('Output was:\n', output);

For error handling, add a try/catch block around the statement.

If you’re running a command that takes a long time to complete, then yes, look at the asynchronous exec function.

Solution 6:

With NodeJS is simple like that!
And if you want to run this script at each boot of your server, you can have a look on the forever-service application!

var exec = require('child_process').exec;

exec('php main.php', function (error, stdOut, stdErr) {
    // do what you want!