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How to fix window is not defined error in Next.js

Feb 22, 2022Abhishek EH3 Min Read
How to fix window is not defined error in Next.js

If you are working with Next.js and accessing the window object for the first time, there are high chances that you have seen the below error:

ReferenceError: window is not defined

In this article, we will see why this error occurs and different ways to fix the error.

Project setup

First, let's create a Next.js application using the following command:

1npx create-next-app next-window-not-defined

Reproducing the error

Once the project is setup, update the index.js with the following code:

index.js
1import styles from "../styles/Home.module.css"
2
3export default function Home() {
4 window.welcomeMessage = "Welcome to CodingDeft!"
5 return <div className={styles.container}>Hello</div>
6}

Here inside the Home component, we are setting a value to window.welcomeMessage. In JavaScript applications or normal react applications, this should work fine. But if we run the code and see we will see the following error:

window not defined error

Also, if you check the terminal where you have started the application, you will see the error there as well:

terminal window not defined error

The root cause of the error

As you can see the error occurs in the terminal itself. That means it is a compilation error.

Next.js is compiled/built on Node.js runtime and Node.js does not have the the window object.

Now you may ask, why it should run on Node.js? This is because, Next.js is server-side rendered, and it runs the component code in the server, sends the HTML to the browser, and the HTML gets hydrated in the browser.

Different ways of fixing the error

In this section, we will explore different ways how to fix the error

Checking if the window is defined

The very obvious fix would be to check if the window object exists or not, and access the window only if it exists.

index.js
1import styles from "../styles/Home.module.css"
2
3export default function Home() {
4 if (typeof window !== "undefined") {
5 window.welcomeMessage = "Welcome to CodingDeft!"
6 }
7 return <div className={styles.container}>Hello</div>
8}

Now if you run the code, you will not see the error.

Accessing the window inside useEffect

The useEffect hook does not run in the server side. So we can have the code which needs to run only on the client-side inside a useEffect hook.

index.js
1import styles from "../styles/Home.module.css"
2
3export default function Home() {
4 useEffect(() => {
5 window.welcomeMessage = "Welcome to CodingDeft!"
6 }, [])
7
8 return <div className={styles.container}>Hello</div>
9}

Dynamic imports in Next.js

Say you are accessing the window object in multiple places within your component, and it would not be feasible to use the above methods all the time.

In cases where you want the whole component to be run only on the client side, you can use the dynamic import feature of Next.js

First, let's create folder named components in the root of the project and a component named ClientComponent inside it:

ClientComponent.js
1import React from "react"
2
3const ClientComponent = () => {
4 window.welcomeMessage = "Welcome to CodingDeft!"
5
6 return <div>Hello</div>
7}
8
9export default ClientComponent

Now we can import the ClientComponent dynamically as shown below:

index.js
1import styles from "../styles/Home.module.css"
2
3import dynamic from "next/dynamic"
4
5const ClientComponent = dynamic(() => import("../components/ClientComponent"), {
6 // Do not import in server side
7 ssr: false,
8})
9
10export default function Home() {
11 return (
12 <div className={styles.container}>
13 <ClientComponent />
14 </div>
15 )
16}

Now if you run the code, you will not see the error.

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