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CLI commands for n8n#

n8n includes a CLI (command line interface), allowing you to perform many common actions using the CLI rather than the n8n editor. These include starting workflows, and exporting and importing workflows and credentials.

Running CLI commands#

You can use CLI commands with self-hosted n8n. Depending on how you choose to install n8n, there are differences in how to run the commands:

  • npm: the n8n command is directly available. The documentation uses this in the examples below.
  • Desktop app: in the examples below, replace n8n with the absolute path to the n8n.cmd file (Windows) or the n8n Desktop executable (Mac). The exact path depends on where you install your Node.js modules. For example, to export all workflow data, the command looks similar to this:
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    # Windows
    "C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Programs\n8n\resources\app\node_modules\n8n\bin\n8n.cmd" export:workflow --all
    # Mac
    /Users/<username>/Desktop/n8n.app/Contents/Resources/app/node_modules/n8n/bin/n8n export:workflow --all
    
  • Docker: the n8n command is available within your Docker container. For example:
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    docker exec -it <n8n-container-name> n8n export:workflow --all
    

Start a workflow#

You can start workflows directly using the CLI.

Execute a saved workflow by its ID:

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n8n execute --id <ID>

Execute a workflow from a workflow file:

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n8n execute --file <WORKFLOW_FILE>

Change the active status of a workflow#

You can change the active status of a workflow using the CLI.

Set the active status of a workflow by its ID to false:

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n8n update:workflow --id=<ID> --active=false

Set the active status of a workflow by its ID to true:

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n8n update:workflow --id=<ID> --active=true

Set the active status to false for all the workflows:

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n8n update:workflow --all --active=false

Set the active status to true for all the workflows:

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n8n update:workflow --all --active=true

Export workflows and credentials#

You can export your workflows and credentials from n8n using the CLI.

Command flags:

Flag Description
--help Help prompt.
--all Exports all workflows/credentials.
--backup Sets --all --pretty --separate for backups. You can optionally set --output.
--id The ID of the workflow to export.
--output Outputs file name or directory if using separate files.
--pretty Formats the output in an easier to read fashion.
--separate Exports one file per workflow (useful for versioning). Must inform a directory via --output.
--decrypted Exports the credentials in a decrypted (plain text) format.

Workflows#

Export all your workflows to the standard output (terminal):

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n8n export:workflow --all

Export a workflow by its ID and specify the output file name:

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n8n export:workflow --id=<ID> --output=file.json

Export all workflows to a specific directory in a single file:

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n8n export:workflow --all --output=backups/latest/

Export all the workflows to a specific directory using the --backup flag (details above):

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n8n export:workflow --backup --output=backups/latest/

Credentials#

Export all your credentials to the standard output (terminal):

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n8n export:credentials --all

Export credentials by their ID and specify the output file name:

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n8n export:credentials --id=<ID> --output=file.json

Export all credentials to a specific directory in a single file:

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n8n export:credentials --all --output=backups/latest/

Export all the credentials to a specific directory using the --backup flag (details above):

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n8n export:credentials --backup --output=backups/latest/

Export all the credentials in a decrypted (plain text) format. You can use this to migrate from one installation to another that has a different secret key (in the config file).

Note: All sensitive information is visible in the files.

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n8n export:credentials --all --decrypted --output=backups/decrypted.json

Import workflows and credentials#

You can import your workflows and credentials from n8n via the CLI.

Update the IDs

When exporting workflows and credentials, n8n also exports their IDs. If you have workflows and credentials with the same IDs in your existing database, they will be overwritten. To avoid this, delete or change the IDs before importing.

Available flags:

Flag Description
--help Help prompt.
--input Input file name or directory if you use --separate.
--separate Imports *.json files from directory provided by --input.

Migrating to different database systems

n8n limits workflow and credential names to 128 characters, but SQLite doesn't enforce size limits correctly.

This might result in errors like Data too long for column name during the import process.

In this case, you can edit the names from the n8n interface and export again or edit the JSON file directly before importing.

Workflows#

Import workflows from a specific file:

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n8n import:workflow --input=file.json
Import all the workflow files (*.json) from the specified directory:

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n8n import:workflow --separate --input=backups/latest/

Credentials#

Import credentials from a specific file:

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n8n import:credentials --input=file.json

Import all the credentials files (*.json) from the specified directory:

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n8n import:credentials --separate --input=backups/latest/