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How to programmatically send a 404 response with Express/Node?

Posted by: admin November 3, 2017 Leave a comment


I want to simulate a 404 error on my Express/Node server. How can I do that?


Nowadays there’s a dedicated status function for this on the response object. Just chain it in somewhere before you call send.

res.status(404)        // HTTP status 404: NotFound
   .send('Not found');


You don’t have to simulate it. The second argument to res.send I believe is the status code. Just pass 404 to that argument.

Let me clarify that: Per the documentation on expressjs.org it seems as though any number passed to res.send() will be interpreted as the status code. So technically you could get away with:


Edit: My bad, I meant res instead of req. It should be called on the response

Edit: As of Express 4, the send(status) method has been deprecated. If you’re using Express 4 or later, use: res.sendStatus(404) instead. (Thanks @badcc for the tip in the comments)


Updated Answer for Express 4.x

Rather than using res.send(404) as in old versions of Express, the new method is:


Express will send a very basic 404 response with “Not Found” text:

HTTP/1.1 404 Not Found
X-Powered-By: Express
Vary: Origin
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
Content-Length: 9
ETag: W/"9-nR6tc+Z4+i9RpwqTOwvwFw"
Date: Fri, 23 Oct 2015 20:08:19 GMT
Connection: keep-alive

Not Found


According to the site I’ll post below, it’s all how you set up your server. One example they show is this:

var http = require("http");
var url = require("url");

function start(route, handle) {
  function onRequest(request, response) {
    var pathname = url.parse(request.url).pathname;
    console.log("Request for " + pathname + " received.");

    route(handle, pathname, response);

  console.log("Server has started.");

exports.start = start;

and their route function:

function route(handle, pathname, response) {
  console.log("About to route a request for " + pathname);
  if (typeof handle[pathname] === 'function') {
  } else {
    console.log("No request handler found for " + pathname);
    response.writeHead(404, {"Content-Type": "text/plain"});
    response.write("404 Not found");

exports.route = route;

This is one way.

From another site, they create a page and then load it. This might be more of what you’re looking for.

fs.readFile('www/404.html', function(error2, data) {
            response.writeHead(404, {'content-type': 'text/html'});



From the Express site, define a NotFound exception and throw it whenever you want to have a 404 page OR redirect to /404 in the below case:

function NotFound(msg){
  this.name = 'NotFound';
  Error.call(this, msg);
  Error.captureStackTrace(this, arguments.callee);

NotFound.prototype.__proto__ = Error.prototype;

app.get('/404', function(req, res){
  throw new NotFound;

app.get('/500', function(req, res){
  throw new Error('keyboard cat!');

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