Make sure Hugo is in your PATH (or provide a path to it). Test this by:

$ hugo help
hugo is the main command, used to build your Hugo site.

Hugo is a Fast and Flexible Static Site Generator
built with love by spf13 and friends in Go.

Complete documentation is available at

  hugo [flags]
  hugo [command]

Available Commands:
  benchmark   Benchmark Hugo by building a site a number of times.
  config      Print the site configuration
  convert     Convert your content to different formats
  env         Print Hugo version and environment info
  gen         A collection of several useful generators.
  import      Import your site from others.
  list        Listing out various types of content
  new         Create new content for your site
  server      A high performance webserver
  undraft     Undraft changes the content's draft status from 'True' to 'False'
  version     Print the version number of Hugo

  -b, --baseURL string          hostname (and path) to the root, e.g.
  -D, --buildDrafts             include content marked as draft
  -E, --buildExpired            include expired content
  -F, --buildFuture             include content with publishdate in the future
      --cacheDir string         filesystem path to cache directory. Defaults: $TMPDIR/hugo_cache/
      --canonifyURLs            if true, all relative URLs will be canonicalized using baseURL
      --cleanDestinationDir     Remove files from destination not found in static directories
      --config string           config file (default is path/config.yaml|json|toml)
  -c, --contentDir string       filesystem path to content directory
  -d, --destination string      filesystem path to write files to
      --disable404              Do not render 404 page
      --disableRSS              Do not build RSS files
      --disableSitemap          Do not build Sitemap file
      --enableGitInfo           Add Git revision, date and author info to the pages
      --forceSyncStatic         Copy all files when static is changed.
      --i18n-warnings           Print missing translations
      --ignoreCache             Ignores the cache directory
  -l, --layoutDir string        filesystem path to layout directory
      --log                     Enable Logging
      --logFile string          Log File path (if set, logging enabled automatically)
      --noChmod                 Don't sync permission mode of files
      --noTimes                 Don't sync modification time of files
      --pluralizeListTitles     Pluralize titles in lists using inflect (default true)
      --preserveTaxonomyNames   Preserve taxonomy names as written ("Gérard Depardieu" vs "gerard-depardieu")
      --quiet                   build in quiet mode
      --renderToMemory          render to memory (only useful for benchmark testing)
  -s, --source string           filesystem path to read files relative from
      --stepAnalysis            display memory and timing of different steps of the program
  -t, --theme string            theme to use (located in /themes/THEMENAME/)
      --uglyURLs                if true, use /filename.html instead of /filename/
  -v, --verbose                 verbose output
      --verboseLog              verbose logging
  -w, --watch                   watch filesystem for changes and recreate as needed

Additional help topics:
  hugo check     Contains some verification checks

Use "hugo [command] --help" for more information about a command.

Common Usage Example

The most common use is probably to run hugo with your current directory being the input directory:

$ hugo
0 draft content
0 future content
99 pages created
0 paginator pages created
16 tags created
0 groups created
in 120 ms

This generates your web site to the public/ directory, ready to be deployed to your web server.

Instant feedback as you develop your web site

If you are working on things and want to see the changes immediately, by default Hugo will watch the filesystem for changes, and rebuild your site as soon as a file is saved:

$ hugo -s ~/Code/hugo/docs
0 draft content
0 future content
99 pages created
0 paginator pages created
16 tags created
0 groups created
in 120 ms
Watching for changes in /Users/spf13/Code/hugo/docs/content
Press Ctrl+C to stop

Hugo can even run a server and create a site preview at the same time! Hugo implements LiveReload technology to automatically reload any open pages in all JavaScript-enabled browsers, including mobile. This is the easiest and most common way to develop a Hugo web site:

$ hugo server -ws ~/Code/hugo/docs
0 draft content
0 future content
99 pages created
0 paginator pages created
16 tags created
0 groups created
in 120 ms
Watching for changes in /Users/spf13/Code/hugo/docs/content
Serving pages from /Users/spf13/Code/hugo/docs/public
Web Server is available at http://localhost:1313/
Press Ctrl+C to stop

Deploying your web site

After running hugo server for local web development, you need to do a final hugo run without the server part of the command to rebuild your site. You may then deploy your site by copying the public/ directory (by FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, Rsync, git push, etc.) to your production web server.

Since Hugo generates a static website, your site can be hosted anywhere, including Heroku, GoDaddy, DreamHost, GitHub Pages, Amazon S3 with CloudFront, Firebase Hosting, or any other cheap (or even free) static web hosting service.

Apache, nginx, IIS… Any web server software would do!

A note about deployment

Running hugo does not remove generated files before building. This means that you should delete your public/ directory (or the directory you specified with -d/--destination) before running the hugo command, or you run the risk of the wrong files (e.g. drafts and/or future posts) being left in the generated site.

An easy way to work around this is to use different directories for development and production.

To start a server that builds draft content (helpful for editing), you can specify a different destination: the dev/ dir.

$ hugo server -wDs ~/Code/hugo/docs -d dev

When the content is ready for publishing, use the default public/ dir:

$ hugo -s ~/Code/hugo/docs

This prevents content you’re not yet ready to share from accidentally becoming available.

Alternatively, serve your web site with Hugo!

Yes, that’s right! Because Hugo is so blazingly fast both in web site creation and in web serving (thanks to its concurrent and multi-threaded design and its Go heritage), some users actually prefer using Hugo itself to serve their web site on their production server!

No other web server software (Apache, nginx, IIS…) is necessary.

Here is the command:

$ hugo server --baseURL= \
              --port=80 \
              --appendPort=false \

Note the bind option, which is the interface to which the server will bind (defaults to fine for most development use cases). Some hosts, such as Amazon Web Services, run NAT (network address translation); sometimes it can be hard to figure out the actual IP address. Using --bind= will bind to all interfaces.

This way, you may actually deploy just the source files, and Hugo on your server will generate the resulting web site on-the-fly and serve them at the same time.

You may optionally add --disableLiveReload=true if you do not want the JavaScript code for LiveReload to be added to your web pages.

Interested? Here are some great tutorials contributed by Hugo users: