simple development http server with live reload capability

Live Server

This is a little development server with live reload capability. Use it for hacking your HTML/JavaScript/CSS files, but not for deploying the final site.

There are two reasons for using this:

  1. AJAX requests don't work with the file:// protocol due to security restrictions, i.e. you need a server if your site fetches content through JavaScript.
  2. Having the page reload automatically after changes to files can accelerate development.

You don't need to install any browser plugins or manually add code snippets to your pages for the reload functionality to work, see "How it works" section below for more information. If you don't want/need the live reload, you should probably use something even simpler, like the following Python-based one-liner:

python -m http.server


You need node.js and npm. You should probably install this globally.

npm way

npm install -g live-server

Manual way

git clone https://github.com/tapio/live-server
cd live-server
npm install # Local dependencies if you want to hack
npm install -g # Install globally

Usage from command line

Issue the command live-server in your project's directory and this will serve the current directory by default. Alternatively, you can specify the path to serve as a command line parameter like so live-server path/to/serve.

This will automatically launch the default browser. When you make a change to any file, the browser will reload the page - unless it was a CSS file in which case the changes are applied without a reload.

Command line parameters:

  • --port=NUMBER - select port to use, default: PORT env var or 8080
  • --host=ADDRESS - select host address to bind to, default: IP env var or ("any address")
  • --no-browser - suppress automatic web browser launching
  • --browser=BROWSER - specify browser to use instead of system default
  • --quiet | -q - suppress logging
  • --verbose | -V - more logging (logs all requests, shows all listening IPv4 interfaces, etc.), equals logLevel=3
  • --logLevel=LOGLEVEL - 0 = errors only, 1 = some, 2 = lots, 3 = everything
  • --open=PATH - launch browser to PATH instead of server root
  • --watch=PATH - comma-separated string of paths to exclusively watch for changes (default: watch everything)
  • --ignore=PATH - comma-separated string of paths to ignore (anymatch-compatible definition)
  • --watch-dotfiles - watch files whose paths include filenames beginning with . (dotfiles), rather than ignoring them (default: false)
  • --ignorePattern=RGXP - Regular expression of files to ignore (ie .*\.jade) (DEPRECATED in favor of --ignore)
  • --middleware=PATH - path to .js file exporting a middleware function to add; can be a name without path nor extension to reference bundled middlewares in middleware folder
  • --entry-file=PATH - serve this file (server root relative) in place of missing files (useful for single page apps)
  • --mount=ROUTE:PATH - serve the paths contents under the defined route (multiple definitions possible)
  • --no-directories - disable directory listings
  • --spa - translate requests from /abc to /#/abc (handy for Single Page Apps)
  • --spa-ignore-assets - when --spa is passed, this option stops the server intercepting requests for any assets (CSS, JS and so on)
  • --wait=MILLISECONDS - (default 100ms) wait for all changes, before reloading
  • --htpasswd=PATH - Enables http-auth expecting htpasswd file located at PATH
  • --cors - Enables CORS for any origin (reflects request origin, requests with credentials are supported)
  • --https[=PATH] - PATH to a HTTPS configuration module; if no PATH is specified, a generic (expired) certification is used
  • --https-module=MODULE_NAME - Custom HTTPS module (e.g. spdy)
  • --proxy=ROUTE:URL - proxy all requests for ROUTE to URL
  • --proxy-unsecure - don't check hostname for https proxy requests (prevents Hostname / IP doesn't match certificate's altname error)
  • --no-css-inject - reload page on CSS change, rather than injecting changed CSS
  • --config=FILE - specify a JSON configuration file to be used. Inline arguments take precedence.
  • --help | -h - display terse usage hint and exit
  • --version | -v - display version and exit
  • --no-markdown - do not render markdown files as such
  • --markdown=STYLE - change the style of markdown rendering: html (default), hack, hack-dark, hack-light
  • --injection=TEXT | --injection - inject additional content to the pages
  • [PATH] - the directory which should be served, default: current working directory

Default options:

If a file ~/.live-server.json exists it will be loaded and used as default options for live-server on the command line. See "Usage from node" for option names.

Usage from node

var liveServer = require("live-server");

var params = {
    port: 8181, // Set the server port. Defaults to 8080.
    host: "", // Set the address to bind to. Defaults to or process.env.IP.
    root: "/public", // Set root directory that's being served. Defaults to cwd.
    open: false, // When false, it won't load your browser by default.
    ignore: 'scss,my/templates', // comma-separated string for paths to ignore
    watchDotfiles: true // watch dotfiles, rather than ignoring them
    file: "index.html", // When set, serve this file (server root relative) for every 404 (useful for single-page applications)
    wait: 1000, // Waits for all changes, before reloading. Defaults to 0 sec.
    mount: [['/components', './node_modules']], // Mount a directory to a route.
    logLevel: 2, // 0 = errors only, 1 = some, 2 = lots, 3 = everything
    middleware: [function(req, res, next) { next(); }], // Takes an array of Connect-compatible middleware that are injected into the server middleware stack
    injection: "<script>console.log('hi')</script>", // Inject additional script.


In order to enable HTTPS support, you'll need to create a configuration module. If no module is provided, a generic, self-signed certification is used. This is unsuitable for production but works well for testing with zero-setup. The module must export an object that will be used to configure a HTTPS server. The keys are the same as the keys in options for tls.createServer.

For example:

var fs = require("fs");

module.exports = {
    cert: fs.readFileSync(__dirname + "/server.cert"),
    key: fs.readFileSync(__dirname + "/server.key"),
    passphrase: "12345"

If using the node API, you can also directly pass a configuration object instead of a path to the module.


To get HTTP/2 support one can provide a custom HTTPS module via --https-module CLI parameter (httpsModule option for Node.js script). Be sure to install the module first. HTTP/2 unencrypted mode is not supported by browsers, thus not supported by live-server. See this question and can I use page on HTTP/2 for more details.

For example from CLI(bash):

live-server \
    --https=path/to/https.conf.js \
    --https-module=spdy \


  • No reload on changes
    • Ensure that your index file has html, head and body tags
    • Open your browser's console: there should be a message at the top stating that live reload is enabled. Note that you will need a browser that supports WebSockets. If there are errors, deal with them. If it's still not working, file an issue.
  • Error: watch ENOSPC
  • Reload works but changes are missing or outdated
    • Try using --wait=MS option. Where MS is time in milliseconds to wait before issuing a reload.

How it works

The server is a simple node app that serves the working directory and its subdirectories. It also watches the files for changes and when that happens, it sends a message through a web socket connection to the browser instructing it to reload. In order for the client side to support this, the server injects a small piece of JavaScript code to each requested html file. This script establishes the web socket connection and listens to the reload requests. CSS files can be refreshed without a full page reload by finding the referenced stylesheets from the DOM and tricking the browser to fetch and parse them again.


We welcome contributions! See CONTRIBUTING.md for details.

Version history

  • v1.3.1
    • --watch-dotfiles to include file & directory names starting with . in the live-reload file watcher (@twome)
  • v1.3.0
    • Add --config parameter to support specifying configuration files
  • v1.2.1
    • --https-module=MODULE_NAME to specify custom HTTPS module (e.g. spdy) (@pavel)
    • --no-css-inject to reload page on css change instead of injecting the changes (@kylecordes)
    • Dependencies updated to get rid of vulnerabilities in deps
  • v1.2.0
    • Add --middleware parameter to use external middlewares
    • middleware API parameter now also accepts strings similar to --middleware
    • Changed file watcher to improve speed (@pavel)
    • --ignore now accepts regexps and globs, --ignorePattern deprecated (@pavel)
    • Added --verbose cli option (logLevel 3) (@pavel)
      • Logs all requests, displays warning when can't inject html file, displays all listening IPv4 interfaces...
    • HTTPS configuration now also accepts a plain object (@pavel)
    • Move --spa to a bundled middleware file
    • New bundled spa-no-assets middleware that works like spa but ignores requests with extension
    • Add --proxy-unsecure parameter to allow overriding hostname check for https proxy requests (@miqmago)
    • Allow multiple --open arguments (@PirtleShell)
    • Inject to head if body not found (@pmd1991)
    • Update dependencies
  • v1.1.0
    • Proxy support (@pavel)
    • Middleware support (@achandrasekar)
    • Dependency updates (@tapio, @rahatarmanahmed)
    • Using Travis CI
  • v1.0.0
    • HTTPS support (@pavel)
    • HTTP Basic authentication support (@hey-johnnypark)
    • CORS support (@pavel)
    • Support mounting single files (@pavel)
    • --spa cli option for single page apps, translates requests from /abc to /#/abc (@evanplaice)
    • Check IP env var for default host (@dotnetCarpenter)
    • Fix ignorePattern from config file (@cyfersystems)
    • Fix test running for Windows (@peterhull90)
  • v0.9.2
    • Updated most dependencies to latest versions
    • --quiet now silences warning about injection failure
    • Giving explicit --watch paths now disables adding mounted paths to watching
  • v0.9.1
    • --ignorePattern=RGXP exclude files from watching by regexp (@psi-4ward)
    • --watch=PATH cli option to only watch given paths
  • v0.9.0
    • --mount=ROUTE:PATH cli option to specify alternative routes to paths (@pmentz)
    • --browser=BROWSER cli option to specify browser to use (@sakiv)
    • Improved error reporting
    • Basic support for injecting the reload code to SVG files (@dotnetCarpenter, @tapio)
    • LiveServer.shutdown() function to close down the server and file watchers
    • If host parameter is given, use it for browser URL instead of resolved IP
    • Initial testing framework (@harrytruong, @evanplaice, @tapio)
  • v0.8.2
    • Load initial settings from ~/.live-server.json if exists (@mikker)
    • Allow --port=0 to select random port (@viqueen)
    • Fix injecting when file extension is not lower case (@gusgard)
    • Fail gracefully if browser does not support WebSockets (@mattymaloney)
    • Switched to a more maintained browser opening library
  • v0.8.1
    • Add --version / -v command line flags to display version
    • Add --host cli option to mirror the API parameter
    • Once again use instead of as the browser URL
  • v0.8.0
    • Support multiple clients simultaneously (@dvv)
    • Pick a random available port if the default is in use (@oliverzy, @harrytruong)
    • Fix Chrome sometimes not applying CSS changes (@harrytruong)
    • --ignore=PATH cli option to not watch given server root relative paths (@richardgoater)
    • --entry-file=PATH cli option to specify file to use when request is not found (@izeau)
    • --wait=MSECS cli option to wait specified time before reloading (@leolower, @harrytruong)
  • v0.7.1
    • Fix hang caused by trying to inject into fragment html files without </body>
    • logLevel parameter in library to control amount of console spam
    • --quiet cli option to suppress console spam
    • --open=PATH cli option to launch browser in specified path instead of root (@richardgoater)
    • Library's noBrowser: true option is deprecated in favor of open: false
  • v0.7.0
    • API BREAKAGE: LiveServer library now takes parameters in an object
    • Add possibility to specify host to the lib
    • Only inject to host page when working with web components (e.g. Polymer) (@davej)
    • Open browser to, as has issues
    • --no-browser command line flag to suppress browser launch
    • --help command line flag to display usage
  • v0.6.4
    • Allow specifying port from the command line: live-server --port=3000 (@Pomax)
    • Don't inject script as the first thing so that DOCTYPE remains valid (@wmira)
    • Be more explicit with listening to all interfaces (@inadarei)
  • v0.6.3
    • Fix multiple _cacheOverride parameters polluting css requests
    • Don't create global variables in the injected script
  • v0.6.2
    • Fix a deprecation warning from send
  • v0.6.1
    • Republish to fix npm troubles
  • v0.6.0
    • Support for using as node library (@dpgraham)
  • v0.5.0
    • Watching was broken with new versions of watchr > 2.3.3
    • Added some logging to console
  • v0.4.0
    • Allow specifying directory to serve from command line
  • v0.3.0
    • Directory listings
  • v0.2.0
    • On-the-fly CSS refresh (no page reload)
    • Refactoring
  • v0.1.1
    • Documentation and meta tweaks
  • v0.1.0
    • Initial release


Uses MIT licensed code from Connect and Roots.

(MIT License)

Copyright (c) 2012 Tapio Vierros

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.