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Workbox CLI

What's the Workbox CLI?

The Workbox command line interface (contained in the workbox-cli package) consists of a Node.js program called workbox that can be run from a Windows, macOS, of UNIX-compatible command line environment. Under the hood, workbox-cli wraps the workbox-build module, and provides an easy way of integrating Workbox into a command line build process, with flexible configurations.

Install the CLI

Installing the CLI is simple, just run the following command in your terminal.


npm install workbox-cli --global


yarn global add workbox-cli

CLI Modes

The CLI has four different modes:

  • wizard: A step-by-step guide to set up Workbox for your project.
  • generateSW: Generates a complete service worker for you.
  • injectManifest: Injects the assets to precache into your project.
  • copyLibraries: Copy the Workbox libraries into a directory.


The Workbox wizard asks a series of questions about your local directory setup and which files you want precached. Your answers are used to generate a configuration file which can then be used when running in generateSW mode.

Most developers will only need to run workbox wizard once, and you're free to manually customize the initial configuration file that's generated, using any of the supported build configuration options.

To start the wizard run:

workbox wizard

Screenshot of Workbox CLI's wizard


You can use the Workbox CLI to generate a complete service worker using a configuration file (like the file generated by the wizard.)

Just run the following command:

workbox generateSW path/to/config.js

Developers who are happy with Workbox's built-in precaching and runtime caching capabilities, and don't need to customize their service worker's behavior are recommended to use generateSW mode.

When to use generateSW

  • You want to precache files.
  • You have simple runtime configuration needs (e.g. the configuration allows you to define routes and strategies).

When NOT to use generateSW

  • You want to use other Service Worker features (i.e. Web Push).
  • You want to import additional scripts or add additional logic.


For developers who want more control of their final service worker file can use the injectManifest mode. This mode assumes that you have an existing service worker file (the location of which is specified in config.js).

When workbox injectManifest is run, it looks for a specific string (precacheAndRoute(self.__WB_MANIFEST) by default) in your source service worker file. It replaces the empty array with a list of URLs to precache and writes the service worker file to its destination location, based on the configuration options in config.js. The rest of the code in your source service worker is left untouched.

You can use Workbox in this mode like so:

workbox injectManifest path/to/config.js

When to use injectManifest

  • You want more control over your service worker.
  • You want to precache files.
  • You have more complex needs in terms of routing.
  • You would like to use your service worker with other API's (e.g. Web Push).

When NOT to use injectManifest

  • You want the easiest path to adding a service worker to your site.


This mode is helpful if you would like to use injectManifest and would like to use the Workbox library files hosted on your own origin instead of using the CDN.

You just need to run it with a path to write the files to:

workbox copyLibraries third_party/workbox/

Build Process Integration

Why Does Workbox need to Integrate with My Build Process?

The Workbox project contains a number of libraries that work together to power your web app's service worker. In order to use those libraries effectively, Workbox needs to be integrated into your web app's build process. This ensures that your service worker is able to efficiently precache all of your web app's critical content, and keep that content up to date.

Is workbox-cli the Right Choice for My Build Process?

If you have an existing build process that is based entirely on npm scripts, then the workbox-cli is a good choice.

If you're currently using webpack as your build tool, then using the workbox-webback-plugin is a better choice.

If you're currently using Gulp, Grunt, or some other Node.js-based build tool, then integrating workbox-build into your build script is a better choice.

If you don't have a build process at all, then you should come up with one before using Workbox to precache any of your assets. Trying to remember to run workbox-cli manually can be error-prone, and forgetting to run it can lead to stale content being served to returning visitors.

Setup and Configuration

After installing workbox-cli as a development dependency for your local project, you can add the call to workbox at the end of your existing build process's npm script:

From package.json:

  "scripts": {
    "build": "my-build-script && workbox <mode> <path/to/config.js>"

Replace <mode> with generateSW or injectManifest (depending on your use case) and <path/to/config.js> with the path to your configuration options. Your configuration might have been created automatically by workbox wizard or tweaked manually.


Options used by generateSW

A full set of configuration options can be found on this reference page.

Options used by injectManifest

A full set of configuration options can be found on this reference page.