Installing Tailwind CLI

The simplest and fastest way to get up and running with Tailwind CSS from scratch is with the Tailwind CLI tool. The CLI is also available as a standalone executable if you want to use it without installing Node.js.

  1. Install Tailwind CSS

    Install tailwindcss via npm, and create your tailwind.config.js file.

    npm install -D tailwindcssnpx tailwindcss init
  2. Configure your template paths

    Add the paths to all of your template files in your tailwind.config.js file.

    /** @type {import('tailwindcss').Config} */
    module.exports = {
      content: ["./src/**/*.{html,js}"],
      theme: {
        extend: {},
      plugins: [],
  3. Add the Tailwind directives to your CSS

    Add the @tailwind directives for each of Tailwind’s layers to your main CSS file.

    @tailwind base;
    @tailwind components;
    @tailwind utilities;
  4. Start the Tailwind CLI build process

    Run the CLI tool to scan your template files for classes and build your CSS.

    npx tailwindcss -i ./src/input.css -o ./src/output.css --watch
  5. Start using Tailwind in your HTML

    Add your compiled CSS file to the <head> and start using Tailwind’s utility classes to style your content.

    <!doctype html>
      <meta charset="UTF-8">
      <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
      <link href="./output.css" rel="stylesheet">
      <h1 class="text-3xl font-bold underline">
        Hello world!

What to read next

Get familiar with some of the core concepts that make Tailwind CSS different from writing traditional CSS.

  • Utility-First Fundamentals

    Using a utility-first workflow to build complex components from a constrained set of primitive utilities.

  • Responsive Design

    Build fully responsive user interfaces that adapt to any screen size using responsive modifiers.

  • Hover, Focus & Other States

    Style elements in interactive states like hover, focus, and more using conditional modifiers.

  • Dark Mode

    Optimize your site for dark mode directly in your HTML using the dark mode modifier.

  • Reusing Styles

    Manage duplication and keep your projects maintainable by creating reusable abstractions.

  • Customizing the Framework

    Customize the framework to match your brand and extend it with your own custom styles.