How to fix error “cannot find module gulp-sass” in Gulp

When you’re running Gulp, you might see an error that says something like “cannot find module gulp-sass”.

This error message means that Gulp is trying to run a function from the gulp-sass package, but it can’t locate it.

If you’re getting this annoying error, here are a few fixes that you can use to get rid of it.

Check your node_modules folder

When you install npm packages, npm will create a node_modules folder in your project root. It will also add packages you’ve installed to your package.json and package-lock.json files.

You can confirm that a package has been installed by making sure it’s listed in your package and package-lock.json files. And double-check your node_modules folder to make sure the package is in a subfolder there.

Lastly, make sure you are running your website or web app from the project root folder, and that the root folder contains the node_modules folder as a direct subfolder. If the node_modules folder isn’t in that location, it may cause this error.

Install the gulp-sass module manually

If you don’t see the gulp-sass package in your node_modules folder, or are still having issues, you can try reinstalling the package.

First, open your package.json and package-lock.json files and remove any references to gulp-sass and node-sass that you see. This will make sure that you will reinstall the most up-to-date version of the packages.

The line to delete in order to remove the gulp-sass package from your package.json file.
The lines to delete the gulp-sass package from your package-lock.json file.

Then, run npm install gulp-sass or npm install gulp-sass --save-dev to install and save in package.json file. Adding the --save-dev flag will add packages to the devDependencies section of your package.json file.

If you don’t add the flag it will get added to the dependencies section of the file. Especially if you’re just working locally, it doesn’t matter a ton which section you use, so follow your own preferences on this.

Note that this will install the package locally in your project folder, and the package will be accessible only from that project. You can also install packages globally on your computer, so that they are accessible from any other directory.

You can do this by adding the global (-g) flag to the install command, like this: npm install -g gulp-sass.

However I usually install packages local to the project. I do install the gulp-cli globally, but everything else I just keep local.

Delete and reinstall all npm packages

If just removing and reinstalling just the gulp-sass package doesn’t work, you can try deleting and reinstalling all your npm packages.

First, make sure that all the packages you need in your project exist in your package.json file. Also make sure that gulp-sass exists in your package.json file.

Then, delete your node_modules folder. You can do this by deleting from your file explorer, or running rm node_modules in the command line. If you encounter errors or difficulties deleting the folder, you can try installing an npm package called rimraf that helps with deleting.

I install rimraf globally on my computer so I can run it from any directory. You can install rimraf globally by running npm install -g rimraf. Then you can attempt to delete the folder by running rimraf node_modules from the project root command line.

If you still have issues or get an error like node_modules\@types is not accessible you may need to first close VS Code or whichever code editor you are using. Then try deleting the folder again.

Once you have successfully deleted the node_modules folder, run npm install from your project root to install all the packages you have listed.

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