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Migrate to Expo CLI

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Learn how to migrate to use Expo CLI instead of @react-native-community/cli in any React Native project.


To migrate from npx react-native init to Expo CLI, you'll need to install the expo package, which includes the Expo Modules API and Expo CLI. This guide covers the installation step, the benefits of using Expo CLI, and how to compile and run your project after migrating to Expo CLI.

Install the expo package

In most cases, executing the following command in a project directory to install the package is all you need to do:

Terminal
npx install-expo-modules@latest

For a detailed installation guide, see Install Expo modules.

Why Expo CLI instead of npx react-native

Expo CLI commands provide several benefits over the similar commands in @react-native-community/cli, which includes:

  • Instant access to Hermes debugger with j keystroke.
  • The debugger ships with React Developer Tools (react-devtools) already installed.
  • Continuous Native Generation (CNG) support with expo prebuild for upgrades, white-labeling, easy third-party package setup, and better maintainability of the codebase (by reducing the surface area).
  • Support for file-based routing with expo-router.
  • Built-in environment variable support and .env file integration.
  • View native logs directly in the terminal alongside JavaScript logs.
  • Improved native build log formatting using Expo CLI's xcpretty-style tool built specifically for React Native apps. For example, when compiling a Pod, you can see which Node module included it.
  • First-class TypeScript support.
  • Support for tsconfig.json aliases with paths and baseUrl built-in to Metro.
  • Web support with Metro. Fully typed for React Native Web.
  • Modern CSS support with Tailwind, PostCSS, CSS Modules, SASS, and more.
  • Static site generation with Expo Router and Metro web.
  • Out of the box support for monorepos.
  • Support for Expo tooling such as expo-dev-client, the Expo Updates protocol and EAS Update.
  • Automated pod install execution when using npx expo run:ios.
  • npx expo install selects compatible dependency versions for well-known packages.
  • Automatic port detection when running npx expo run:[android|ios] and npx expo start. If another app is running on the default port, a different port is used.
  • Android or iOS device launch selection shortcuts using Shift + a or Shift + i from the interactive prompt.
  • Built-in support for serving your app over an ngrok tunnel.
  • Develop on any port with any entry JavaScript file.

We recommend Expo CLI for most React Native projects that target Android, iOS, and/or web. It does not yet have built-in support for the most popular out-of-tree platforms, such as Windows and macOS. If building for these platforms, you can utilize Expo CLI for the supported platforms and @react-native-community/cli for the others.

Compile and run your app

After installing the expo package, you can use the following commands which are alternatives to npx react-native run-android and npx react-native run-ios:

Terminal
# for Android
npx expo run:android

# for iOS
npx expo run:ios

When building your project, you can choose a device or simulator by using the --device flag. This also applies to any iOS device that is connected to your computer.

Start the bundler independently

npx expo run:[android|ios] automatically starts the bundler/development server. If you want to independently start the bundler with npx expo start command, pass the --no-bundler to the npx expo run:[android|ios] command.

Common questions

Can I use Expo CLI without installing the Expo Modules API?

Expo Modules API is also installed when you install the expo package with npx install-expo-modules. If you want to try out Expo CLI for now without installing Expo Modules API, install the expo package with npm install and then configure the react-native.config.js to exclude the package from autolinking:

react-native.config.js
module.exports = {
  dependencies: {
    expo: {
      platforms: {
        android: null,
        ios: null,
        macos: null,
      },
    },
  },
};

Note: Without Expo API Modules installed, certain features such as expo-dev-client or expo-router are unavailable.

Can I use prebuild for out-of-tree platforms, such as macOS or Windows?

Yes! Refer to the Customized Prebuild Example repository for more information.

Next steps

Now, with the expo package installed and configured in your project, you can start using all features from Expo CLI and SDK. Here are some recommended next steps to dive deep:

Expo CLI Reference

Learn more about the commands and flags available in Expo CLI.

Adopt Prebuild

Automate your native directories using the app.json.

Use Expo SDK

Try out libraries from the Expo SDK in your app.

Expo Router

Expo Router brings the best routing concepts from the web to native Android and iOS apps.