base (version 3.6.1)

ns-load: Loading and Unloading Name Spaces


Functions to load and unload name spaces.


attachNamespace(ns, pos = 2L, depends = NULL, exclude, include.only)
loadNamespace(package, lib.loc = NULL,
              keep.source = getOption("keep.source.pkgs"),
              partial = FALSE, versionCheck = NULL,
     = getOption(""))
requireNamespace(package, ..., quietly = FALSE)



string or name space object.


integer specifying position to attach.


NULL or a character vector of dependencies to be recorded in object .Depends in the package.


string naming the package/name space to load.


character vector specifying library search path.


Now ignored except during package installation.

Ignored except during package installation.


logical; if true, stop just after loading code.


NULL or a version specification (a list with components op and version).


logical: should progress and error messages be suppressed?


string or ‘name’, see as.symbol, of a package, e.g., "stats".

exclude, include.only

character vectors; see library.

further arguments to be passed to loadNamespace.


attachNamespace returns invisibly the package environment it adds to the search path.

loadNamespace returns the name space environment, either one already loaded or the one the function causes to be loaded.

requireNamespace returns TRUE if it succeeds or FALSE.

loadedNamespaces returns a character vector.

unloadNamespace returns NULL, invisibly.


The functions loadNamespace and attachNamespace are usually called implicitly when library is used to load a name space and any imports needed. However it may be useful at times to call these functions directly.

loadNamespace loads the specified name space and registers it in an internal data base. A request to load a name space when one of that name is already loaded has no effect. The arguments have the same meaning as the corresponding arguments to library, whose help page explains the details of how a particular installed package comes to be chosen. After loading, loadNamespace looks for a hook function named .onLoad as an internal variable in the name space (it should not be exported). Partial loading is used to support installation with lazy-loading.

Optionally the package licence is checked during loading: see section ‘Licenses’ in the help for library.

loadNamespace does not attach the name space it loads to the search path. attachNamespace can be used to attach a frame containing the exported values of a name space to the search path (but this is almost always done via library). The hook function .onAttach is run after the name space exports are attached.

requireNamespace is a wrapper for loadNamespace analogous to require that returns a logical value.

loadedNamespaces returns a character vector of the names of the loaded name spaces.

isNamespaceLoaded(pkg) is equivalent to but more efficient than pkg %in% loadedNamespaces().

unloadNamespace can be used to attempt to force a name space to be unloaded. If the name space is attached, it is first detached, thereby running a .onDetach or .Last.lib function in the name space if one is exported. An error is signaled and the name space is not unloaded if the name space is imported by other loaded name spaces. If defined, a hook function .onUnload is run before removing the name space from the internal registry.

See the comments in the help for detach about some issues with unloading and reloading name spaces.


The ‘Writing R Extensions’ manual, section “Package namespaces”.

See Also

getNamespace, asNamespace, topenv, .onLoad (etc); further environment.


Run this code
 (lns <- loadedNamespaces())
 statL <- isNamespaceLoaded("stats")
# }
<!-- % checks work also when it is *not* loaded -->
# }
 stopifnot( identical(statL, "stats" %in% lns) )

 ## The string "foo" and the symbol 'foo' can be used interchangably here:
 stopifnot( identical(isNamespaceLoaded(  "foo"   ), FALSE),
            identical(isNamespaceLoaded(quote(foo)), FALSE),
            identical(isNamespaceLoaded(quote(stats)), statL))

hasS <- isNamespaceLoaded("splines") # (to restore if needed)
Sns <- asNamespace("splines") # loads it if not already
stopifnot(   isNamespaceLoaded("splines"))
unloadNamespace(Sns) # unloading the NS 'object'
stopifnot( ! isNamespaceLoaded("splines"))
if (hasS) loadNamespace("splines") # (restoring previous state)
# }

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