How to Check if a Package is Installed in R

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With the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN) providing access to thousands of packages, an R user often interacts with a myriad of packages in their R programming journey. While loading and using these packages forms a significant part of the workflow, it is equally important to check whether a specific package is installed in your R environment.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through different ways to check if a package is installed in R, and why it is necessary to ensure a package’s presence before loading it.

Why Check if a Package is Installed?

There are several reasons why an R programmer might need to check if a package is installed:

  1. Loading Packages: Before loading a package using the library() or require() function, it is essential to ensure that the package is installed. If you try to load a package that is not installed, R will throw an error.
  2. Script Sharing and Reproducibility: If you are sharing your R script with others, it is a good practice to include code that checks for the presence of necessary packages and installs them if needed. This makes your scripts more robust and ensures reproducibility.
  3. Package Maintenance: Regularly checking what packages are installed can help in maintaining your R environment. For example, you can remove outdated or unused packages to keep your environment clean.
  4. Avoiding Errors: Ensuring that necessary packages are installed before executing a function from that package helps avoid errors during runtime.

Now that we understand why it’s necessary to check if a package is installed, let’s move forward and explore how to perform this check in R.

How to Check if a Package is Installed in R?

R provides several ways to check if a package is installed. This section will explain these methods and provide code examples for each.

Using the find.package( ) Function

The find.package() function in R returns the directory of the package if it is installed. If the package is not installed, find.package() throws an error. Here’s how you can use find.package():


For instance, to check if the ggplot2 package is installed, you would use:


This code will return the directory where ggplot2 is installed if it is available, otherwise, it will throw an error.

Using the installed.packages( ) Function

The installed.packages() function returns a matrix with information on all installed packages. Each row corresponds to a package, and the columns provide details such as the package name, version, and directory.

To use installed.packages() to check if a specific package is installed, you can use the %in% operator:

"package_name" %in% rownames(installed.packages())

For example, to check if the dplyr package is installed, you would use:

"dplyr" %in% rownames(installed.packages())

This code will return TRUE if dplyr is installed and FALSE if it is not.

Creating a Custom Function to Check and Install Packages

You can create a custom function in R that checks if a package is installed, and if not, installs the package. This can be particularly useful when sharing your R scripts with others. Here’s how you can create such a function:

check_and_install <- function(package){
  if (!package %in% rownames(installed.packages())){

You can use this function to check and install a package like this:


For example, to check and install the tidyverse package, you would use:


This function will check if tidyverse is installed, and if it is not, it will install the package.


Checking if a package is installed in R is an essential step in R programming, particularly when sharing scripts or managing your R environment. While R provides several ways to check if a package is installed, the best method depends on your specific needs and the context. By using these methods, you can ensure that your R scripts run smoothly and avoid errors due to missing packages.

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