Find and evaluate NuGet packages for your project

When you start a .NET project, or identify a functional need in your app or service, you can often install existing NuGet packages to save the time and trouble of creating your own packages. Existing packages can come from the nuget.org public collection, or from private sources that your organization or another party provide.

Find packages

You can find packages directly at https://nuget.org/packages, or from the Visual Studio Package Manager UI or Package Manager Console with nuget.org as a source. All packages from nuget.org are routinely scanned for viruses.

At nuget.org/packages, you see a list of NuGet packages with the most popular packages across all .NET projects listed first. Some of these packages might be useful for your projects.

Screenshot that shows the default view of nuget.org/packages with the most popular packages at the top.

To search for a package, enter the package name or search terms in the Search box at the top of the page. You can use advanced search syntax to filter your search.

Advanced filtering and sorting

At nuget.org/packages, you can select the Filter button at upper-right to expand advanced sorting and filtering options.

Screenshot that shows the Advanced Search panel on nuget.org.

Use the Package type filter to show packages of a specific type:

  • All types is the default and shows all packages regardless of type.
  • Dependency filters to regular NuGet packages that you can install into your project.
  • .NET tool filters to .NET tools packages that contain console applications.
  • Template filters to .NET templates that you can use to create new projects with the dotnet new command.

Use the Sort by option to sort the list by several criteria:

  • Relevance is the default, and sorts results according to an internal scoring algorithm.
  • Downloads sorts the search results by the total number of downloads, in descending order.
  • Recently updated sorts the search results by the latest package version creation date, in descending chronological order.

By default, NuGet lists all versions of packages, including prerelease and beta versions. In the Options section, deselect the Include prerelease checkbox to list only stable, released package versions.

To apply changes, select Apply. To get back to the defaults, select Reset.

Search syntax

Package search queries at nuget.org, from the NuGet CLI, and from within Visual Studio all use the same syntax. Other package sources, like Azure Artifacts or GitHub Package Repository, might use different syntax or might not support advanced filtering.

  • You can search the package id, packageid, version, title, tags, author, description, summary, or owner properties by using the syntax <property>:<term>.

  • Search applies to keywords and descriptions, and is case-insensitive. For example, the following strings all search the id property for the string nuget.core:

    id:NuGet.Core
    ID:nuget.core
    Id:NUGET.CORE

  • Searches on the id property match substrings, while packageid and owner use exact, case-insensitive matches. For example:

    PackageId:jquery searches for the exact package ID jquery.
    Id:jquery searches for all package IDs that contain the string jquery.

  • You can search for multiple values or properties at the same time. For example:

    id:jquery id:ui searches for multiple terms in the id property.
    id:jquery tags:validation searches multiple properties.

  • Search ignores unsupported properties, so invalid:jquery ui is the same as searching for ui, and invalid:jquery returns all packages.

Determine supported frameworks

NuGet installs a package into a project only if the package's supported .NET frameworks include the project's target frameworks. If the package isn't compatible, NuGet issues an error.

There are several ways to determine the frameworks that a package supports:

  • On the package's page at nuget.org, supported frameworks appear below the package ID and on the Frameworks tab, but not all packages show supported frameworks.

    Screenshot of the Frameworks UI and tab on the package page at nuget.org.

  • Download the package manually by selecting Download package under About. Change the file extension of the downloaded package from .nupkg to .zip, open the .zip folder, and examine its lib folder. There are subfolders for each supported framework, each named with a target framework moniker (TFM). For more information, see Target Frameworks. If there aren't any subfolders under lib and there's only a single DLL, try to install the package to discover its compatibility.

  • Try to install the package into a project by using Install-Package in the Visual Studio Package Manager Console. If the package is incompatible, the console output shows the package's supported frameworks.

Prerelease packages

Many package authors provide preview and beta releases as they continue to improve and seek feedback on latest revisions. By default, nuget.org shows prerelease packages in its package list and search results.

To list and search only stable releases:

  • At nuget.org, deselect the Include prerelease checkbox in the advanced search panel.
  • In the Visual Studio NuGet Package Manager UI, deselect the Include prerelease checkbox next to the Search box.

The Visual Studio Package Manager Console, NuGet CLI, and dotnet CLI tools don't include prerelease versions by default. To include prerelease versions:

  • In the Package Manager Console, use the -IncludePrerelease switch with the Find-Package, Get-Package, Install-Package, Sync-Package, and Update-Package commands. For more information, see the PowerShell Reference.

  • For the NuGet CLI, use the -prerelease switch with the install, update, delete, and mirror commands. For more information, see the NuGet CLI reference.

  • For the dotnet CLI, specify a prerelease version with the -v argument. For more information, see the dotnet add package reference.

Native C++ packages

Visual Studio C++ projects can use native C++ NuGet packages. Installing these packages enables the Manage NuGet Packages context-menu command, exposes a native target framework, and provides MSBuild integration.

To find native packages on nuget.org/packages, search by using tag:native. Such packages typically provide .targets and .props files, which NuGet imports automatically when adding the packages.

Evaluate packages

The best way to evaluate a package's usefulness is to try it out. You take a dependency on a package when you use it, so you must make sure it's robust and reliable. However, installing a package and directly testing it is time-consuming. You can learn a lot about a package's quality by using the information on the package's page at nuget.org/packages.

  • The Prefix Reserved checkmark next to the package ID on the packages list and the package page means the package owners have applied for and been granted a reserved package ID prefix. To meet the ID prefix reservation criteria, package owners must clearly identify themselves and their packages.

    Screenshot that shows Prefix Reserved on a package's page.

  • Downloads in the package page's right column shows Total, Current version, and Per day average downloads. Large numbers indicate that the package has proven itself among many developers.

    Screenshot that shows Download statistics on a package's page.

    Select Full stats next to Downloads to see a page that shows package downloads for the past six weeks by version number. Versions that more developers are using are typically better choices.

  • The Used By tab on the package page shows the top five most popular nuget.org packages and GitHub repositories that depend on this package. Packages and repos that depend on this package are called dependents. Dependent packages and repos can be seen as endorsing this package, because they chose to trust and depend on it.

    Screenshot that shows the Used By list.

    The latest stable version of a dependent package must depend on any version of this package. This definition ensures that listed dependent packages are an up-to-date reflection of package authors' decisions to trust and depend on the package. The dependents list doesn't show prerelease dependents, because they're not considered wholehearted endorsements yet. The following examples show which packages show as dependents:

    Dependent package version Dependent package listed as a dependent?
    v1.0.0
    v1.1.0 (latest stable) depends on this package
    v1.2.0-preview
    TRUE, latest stable version depends on this package
    v1.0.0 depends on this package
    v1.1.0 (latest stable)
    v1.2.0-preview
    FALSE, latest stable version doesn't depend on this package
    v1.0.0 depends on this package
    v1.1.0 (latest stable)
    v1.2.0-preview depends on this package
    FALSE, latest stable version doesn't depend on this package

    The number of stars for a GitHub repository indicates its popularity with GitHub users. For more information about the GitHub star and repository ranking system, see About stars.

    Note

    The Used By section is automatically generated periodically, without human review, and solely for informational purposes.

  • The Versions tab on the package page shows the Versions, Downloads, Last Updated dates, and serious vulnerabilities of package versions. The version you install shouldn't have any high-severity vulnerabilities. A well-maintained package has recent updates and a long version history. Neglected packages have few and long-ago updates.

    Screenshot that shows the Versions list.

The right column of the package page has other informative links:

Screenshot that shows the right column of the package page.

  • Select Project website, if available, to see what support options the author provides. A project with a dedicated site is generally well supported.

  • Select Source repository to go to the Git source code repository for the package. Many authors maintain their packages in open-source repositories, so users can directly contribute bug fixes and feature improvements. The package's contribution history is a good indicator of how many developers are actively involved.

  • Select <license type> license to see the package's MIT or other license. If a package doesn't specify license terms, contact the package owner.

  • Select any of the package owners under Owners to see other packages they've published. Owners with multiple packages are more likely to continue supporting their work. Select Contact owners next to Owners to reach out directly to the package developers.

Retrieve license information

Some NuGet clients and NuGet feeds might not be able to surface licensing information. To maintain backward compatibility in such cases, the license URL points to this document about how to retrieve the license information.

If selecting the license URL for a package brings you to this page, it implies the package contains a license file and:

  • You're connected to a feed that doesn't know how to interpret and surface the license information to the client, or
  • You're using a client that doesn't know how to interpret and read the license information the feed provides, or
  • A combination of both of these scenarios.

To read the information in the license file inside the package:

  1. Manually download the package, and unzip its contents to a folder.
  2. Open the .nuspec file at the root of the folder.
  3. Examine the <license> tag, such as <license type="file">license\license.txt</license>. The example tag states that the license file is named license.txt and is inside a subfolder called license.
  4. Navigate to the specified location and open the specified file.

For information about the MSBuild equivalent to setting the license in the .nuspec, see Packing a license expression or a license file.

Next steps