How to Check which Package Version is Loaded in R

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R, boasts a rich ecosystem of packages designed to perform specific tasks. Each package is a collection of functions, data, and compiled code that extends the capabilities of base R.

With new versions of these packages being released regularly, containing updates, bug fixes, or new features, it becomes necessary for R users to know which version of a package they’re using. The package version can influence how your code runs, as different versions of the same package might behave differently.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various ways to check the version of an R package that’s loaded in your current session, how to update to a new version, and why it’s essential to know the package version.

Why Check the Package Version?

Here are a few reasons why you might need to check the version of an R package:

  1. Reproducibility: If you’re sharing your R scripts or collaborating with others, it’s essential to specify the version of the packages used. This ensures that the scripts run the same way, maintaining reproducibility of the analysis.
  2. Functionality: New versions of packages often come with new features, bug fixes, or performance improvements. So, knowing the version can help you determine whether you can use certain functions or not.
  3. Compatibility: Some packages may only work with certain versions of other packages. Checking the version helps ensure compatibility between different packages.
  4. Debugging: If your code is not running as expected, the issue might lie in the package version. In such cases, knowing the package version can help with debugging.

With these motivations in mind, let’s explore how to check which package version is loaded in R.

How to Check Which Package Version is Loaded in R?

There are several ways to determine the version of a loaded package in R, from using base R functions to specific functions in certain packages. This section will explore these various methods.

Using the sessionInfo( ) Function

The simplest way to check the versions of all loaded packages in an R session is by using the sessionInfo() function. When you run sessionInfo(), it returns information about the current R session, including the R version, operating system, loaded base and attached packages, and the versions of these packages.

Here’s how you can use sessionInfo():


This function returns a list-like object that includes the R version, system information, and details about the loaded packages, including their versions.

Using the packageVersion( ) Function

If you want to check the version of a specific package, you can use the packageVersion() function. This function returns the version of a package as a numeric version.

Here’s how you can use packageVersion():


For instance, to check the version of the ggplot2 package, you would use:


The packageVersion() function returns an object of class "package_version" that can be printed compactly.

Using the devtools Package

The devtools package, a collection of package development tools, also provides a function to check the version of a package.

To use devtools, you first need to install and load the package:


Then, you can use the package_info() function from the devtools package to check the version of a package:


For example, to check the version of the dplyr package, you would use:


The package_info() function returns a tibble with information about the package, including the version.

How to Update a Package in R

Once you’ve checked the version of a package and determined that a newer version is available, you may want to update the package. Here’s how you can update a package in R:


The install.packages() function will install the latest version of the package from CRAN, overwriting the current version. You can also use the update.packages() function to update all packages that have newer versions available on CRAN.

Best Practices for Managing R Package Versions

  1. Regularly check and update your package versions: Regularly updating your packages ensures that you have the latest features and bug fixes.
  2. Use version control for reproducibility: Specify the package versions in your R scripts or use a package management system like renv or packrat to maintain reproducibility of your code.
  3. Be mindful of compatibility issues: Before updating a package, check if the new version is compatible with the other packages in your environment to avoid potential issues.

In conclusion, knowing how to check the version of a package in R is an important aspect of R programming, especially for ensuring reproducibility, taking advantage of new features, and debugging issues. While R provides several ways to check the package version, the best method depends on your specific needs and the context.

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