Middleware (also called pre and post hooks) are functions which are passed control during execution of asynchronous functions. Middleware is specified on the schema level and is useful for writing plugins.

Types of Middleware

Mongoose has 4 types of middleware: document middleware, model middleware, aggregate middleware, and query middleware.

Document middleware is supported for the following document functions. In Mongoose, a document is an instance of a Model class. In document middleware functions, this refers to the document. To access the model, use this.constructor.

Query middleware is supported for the following Query functions. Query middleware executes when you call exec() or then() on a Query object, or await on a Query object. In query middleware functions, this refers to the query.

Aggregate middleware is for MyModel.aggregate(). Aggregate middleware executes when you call exec() on an aggregate object. In aggregate middleware, this refers to the aggregation object.

Model middleware is supported for the following model functions. Don't confuse model middleware and document middleware: model middleware hooks into static functions on a Model class, document middleware hooks into methods on a Model class. In model middleware functions, this refers to the model.

Here are the possible strings that can be passed to pre()

  • aggregate
  • bulkWrite
  • count
  • countDocuments
  • createCollection
  • deleteOne
  • deleteMany
  • estimatedDocumentCount
  • find
  • findOne
  • findOneAndDelete
  • findOneAndReplace
  • findOneAndUpdate
  • init
  • insertMany
  • remove
  • replaceOne
  • save
  • update
  • updateOne
  • updateMany
  • validate

All middleware types support pre and post hooks. How pre and post hooks work is described in more detail below.

Note: Mongoose registers updateOne middleware on Query.prototype.updateOne() by default. This means that both doc.updateOne() and Model.updateOne() trigger updateOne hooks, but this refers to a query, not a document. To register updateOne middleware as document middleware, use schema.pre('updateOne', { document: true, query: false }).

Note: Like updateOne, Mongoose registers deleteOne middleware on Query.prototype.deleteOne by default. That means that Model.deleteOne() will trigger deleteOne hooks, and this will refer to a query. However, doc.deleteOne() does not fire deleteOne query middleware for legacy reasons. To register deleteOne middleware as document middleware, use schema.pre('deleteOne', { document: true, query: false }).

Note: The create() function fires save() hooks.

Note: Query middlewares are not executed on subdocuments.

const childSchema = new mongoose.Schema({
  name: String

const mainSchema = new mongoose.Schema({
  child: [childSchema]

mainSchema.pre('findOneAndUpdate', function() {
  console.log('Middleware on parent document'); // Will be executed

childSchema.pre('findOneAndUpdate', function() {
  console.log('Middleware on subdocument'); // Will not be executed


Pre middleware functions are executed one after another, when each middleware calls next.

const schema = new Schema({ /* ... */ });
schema.pre('save', function(next) {
  // do stuff

In mongoose 5.x, instead of calling next() manually, you can use a function that returns a promise. In particular, you can use async/await.

schema.pre('save', function() {
  return doStuff().
    then(() => doMoreStuff());

// Or, in Node.js >= 7.6.0:
schema.pre('save', async function() {
  await doStuff();
  await doMoreStuff();

If you use next(), the next() call does not stop the rest of the code in your middleware function from executing. Use the early return pattern to prevent the rest of your middleware function from running when you call next().

const schema = new Schema({ /* ... */ });
schema.pre('save', function(next) {
  if (foo()) {
    console.log('calling next!');
    // `return next();` will make sure the rest of this function doesn't run
    /* return */ next();
  // Unless you comment out the `return` above, 'after next' will print
  console.log('after next');

Use Cases

Middleware are useful for atomizing model logic. Here are some other ideas:

  • complex validation
  • removing dependent documents (removing a user removes all their blogposts)
  • asynchronous defaults
  • asynchronous tasks that a certain action triggers

Errors in Pre Hooks

If any pre hook errors out, mongoose will not execute subsequent middleware or the hooked function. Mongoose will instead pass an error to the callback and/or reject the returned promise. There are several ways to report an error in middleware:

schema.pre('save', function(next) {
  const err = new Error('something went wrong');
  // If you call `next()` with an argument, that argument is assumed to be
  // an error.

schema.pre('save', function() {
  // You can also return a promise that rejects
  return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
    reject(new Error('something went wrong'));

schema.pre('save', function() {
  // You can also throw a synchronous error
  throw new Error('something went wrong');

schema.pre('save', async function() {
  await Promise.resolve();
  // You can also throw an error in an `async` function
  throw new Error('something went wrong');

// later...

// Changes will not be persisted to MongoDB because a pre hook errored out
myDoc.save(function(err) {
  console.log(err.message); // something went wrong

Calling next() multiple times is a no-op. If you call next() with an error err1 and then throw an error err2, mongoose will report err1.

Post middleware

post middleware are executed after the hooked method and all of its pre middleware have completed.

schema.post('init', function(doc) {
  console.log('%s has been initialized from the db', doc._id);
schema.post('validate', function(doc) {
  console.log('%s has been validated (but not saved yet)', doc._id);
schema.post('save', function(doc) {
  console.log('%s has been saved', doc._id);
schema.post('deleteOne', function(doc) {
  console.log('%s has been deleted', doc._id);

Asynchronous Post Hooks

If your post hook function takes at least 2 parameters, mongoose will assume the second parameter is a next() function that you will call to trigger the next middleware in the sequence.

// Takes 2 parameters: this is an asynchronous post hook
schema.post('save', function(doc, next) {
  setTimeout(function() {
    // Kick off the second post hook
  }, 10);

// Will not execute until the first middleware calls `next()`
schema.post('save', function(doc, next) {

Define Middleware Before Compiling Models

Calling pre() or post() after compiling a model does not work in Mongoose in general. For example, the below pre('save') middleware will not fire.

const schema = new mongoose.Schema({ name: String });

// Compile a model from the schema
const User = mongoose.model('User', schema);

// Mongoose will **not** call the middleware function, because
// this middleware was defined after the model was compiled
schema.pre('save', () => console.log('Hello from pre save'));

const user = new User({ name: 'test' });

This means that you must add all middleware and plugins before calling mongoose.model(). The below script will print out "Hello from pre save":

const schema = new mongoose.Schema({ name: String });
// Mongoose will call this middleware function, because this script adds
// the middleware to the schema before compiling the model.
schema.pre('save', () => console.log('Hello from pre save'));

// Compile a model from the schema
const User = mongoose.model('User', schema);

const user = new User({ name: 'test' });

As a consequence, be careful about exporting Mongoose models from the same file that you define your schema. If you choose to use this pattern, you must define global plugins before calling require() on your model file.

const schema = new mongoose.Schema({ name: String });

// Once you `require()` this file, you can no longer add any middleware
// to this schema.
module.exports = mongoose.model('User', schema);

Save/Validate Hooks

The save() function triggers validate() hooks, because mongoose has a built-in pre('save') hook that calls validate(). This means that all pre('validate') and post('validate') hooks get called before any pre('save') hooks.

schema.pre('validate', function() {
  console.log('this gets printed first');
schema.post('validate', function() {
  console.log('this gets printed second');
schema.pre('save', function() {
  console.log('this gets printed third');
schema.post('save', function() {
  console.log('this gets printed fourth');

Accessing Parameters in Middleware

Mongoose provides 2 ways to get information about the function call that triggered the middleware. For query middleware, we recommend using this, which will be a Mongoose Query instance.

const userSchema = new Schema({ name: String, age: Number });
userSchema.pre('findOneAndUpdate', function() {
  console.log(this.getFilter()); // { name: 'John' }
  console.log(this.getUpdate()); // { age: 30 }
const User = mongoose.model('User', userSchema);

await User.findOneAndUpdate({ name: 'John' }, { $set: { age: 30 } });

For document middleware, like pre('save'), Mongoose passes the 1st parameter to save() as the 2nd argument to your pre('save') callback. You should use the 2nd argument to get access to the save() call's options, because Mongoose documents don't store all the options you can pass to save().

const userSchema = new Schema({ name: String, age: Number });
userSchema.pre('save', function(next, options) {
  options.validateModifiedOnly; // true

  // Remember to call `next()` unless you're using an async function or returning a promise
const User = mongoose.model('User', userSchema);

const doc = new User({ name: 'John', age: 30 });
await doc.save({ validateModifiedOnly: true });

Naming Conflicts

Mongoose has both query and document hooks for deleteOne().

schema.pre('deleteOne', function() { console.log('Removing!'); });

// Does **not** print "Removing!". Document middleware for `remove` is not executed by default
await doc.deleteOne();

// Prints "Removing!"

You can pass options to Schema.pre() and Schema.post() to switch whether Mongoose calls your deleteOne() hook for Document.prototype.deleteOne() or Query.prototype.deleteOne(). Note here that you need to set both document and query properties in the passed object:

// Only document middleware
schema.pre('deleteOne', { document: true, query: false }, function() {
  console.log('Deleting doc!');

// Only query middleware. This will get called when you do `Model.remove()`
// but not `doc.remove()`.
schema.pre('deleteOne', { query: true, document: false }, function() {

Mongoose also has both query and document hooks for validate(). Unlike deleteOne and updateOne, validate middleware applies to Document.prototype.validate by default.

const schema = new mongoose.Schema({ name: String });
schema.pre('validate', function() {
  console.log('Document validate');
schema.pre('validate', { query: true, document: false }, function() {
  console.log('Query validate');
const Test = mongoose.model('Test', schema);

const doc = new Test({ name: 'foo' });

// Prints "Document validate"
await doc.validate();

// Prints "Query validate"
await Test.find().validate();

Notes on findAndUpdate() and Query Middleware

Pre and post save() hooks are not executed on update(), findOneAndUpdate(), etc. You can see a more detailed discussion why in this GitHub issue. Mongoose 4.0 introduced distinct hooks for these functions.

schema.pre('find', function() {
  console.log(this instanceof mongoose.Query); // true
  this.start = Date.now();

schema.post('find', function(result) {
  console.log(this instanceof mongoose.Query); // true
  // prints returned documents
  console.log('find() returned ' + JSON.stringify(result));
  // prints number of milliseconds the query took
  console.log('find() took ' + (Date.now() - this.start) + ' milliseconds');

Query middleware differs from document middleware in a subtle but important way: in document middleware, this refers to the document being updated. In query middleware, mongoose doesn't necessarily have a reference to the document being updated, so this refers to the query object rather than the document being updated.

For instance, if you wanted to add an updatedAt timestamp to every updateOne() call, you would use the following pre hook.

schema.pre('updateOne', function() {
  this.set({ updatedAt: new Date() });

You cannot access the document being updated in pre('updateOne') or pre('findOneAndUpdate') query middleware. If you need to access the document that will be updated, you need to execute an explicit query for the document.

schema.pre('findOneAndUpdate', async function() {
  const docToUpdate = await this.model.findOne(this.getQuery());
  console.log(docToUpdate); // The document that `findOneAndUpdate()` will modify

However, if you define pre('updateOne') document middleware, this will be the document being updated. That's because pre('updateOne') document middleware hooks into Document#updateOne() rather than Query#updateOne().

schema.pre('updateOne', { document: true, query: false }, function() {
const Model = mongoose.model('Test', schema);

const doc = new Model();
await doc.updateOne({ $set: { name: 'test' } }); // Prints "Updating"

// Doesn't print "Updating", because `Query#updateOne()` doesn't fire
// document middleware.
await Model.updateOne({}, { $set: { name: 'test' } });

Error Handling Middleware

Middleware execution normally stops the first time a piece of middleware calls next() with an error. However, there is a special kind of post middleware called "error handling middleware" that executes specifically when an error occurs. Error handling middleware is useful for reporting errors and making error messages more readable.

Error handling middleware is defined as middleware that takes one extra parameter: the 'error' that occurred as the first parameter to the function. Error handling middleware can then transform the error however you want.

const schema = new Schema({
  name: {
    type: String,
    // Will trigger a MongoServerError with code 11000 when
    // you save a duplicate
    unique: true

// Handler **must** take 3 parameters: the error that occurred, the document
// in question, and the `next()` function
schema.post('save', function(error, doc, next) {
  if (error.name === 'MongoServerError' && error.code === 11000) {
    next(new Error('There was a duplicate key error'));
  } else {

// Will trigger the `post('save')` error handler
Person.create([{ name: 'Axl Rose' }, { name: 'Axl Rose' }]);

Error handling middleware also works with query middleware. You can also define a post update() hook that will catch MongoDB duplicate key errors.

// The same E11000 error can occur when you call `update()`
// This function **must** take 3 parameters. If you use the
// `passRawResult` function, this function **must** take 4
// parameters
schema.post('update', function(error, res, next) {
  if (error.name === 'MongoServerError' && error.code === 11000) {
    next(new Error('There was a duplicate key error'));
  } else {
    next(); // The `update()` call will still error out.

const people = [{ name: 'Axl Rose' }, { name: 'Slash' }];
await Person.create(people);

// Throws "There was a duplicate key error"
await Person.update({ name: 'Slash' }, { $set: { name: 'Axl Rose' } });

Error handling middleware can transform an error, but it can't remove the error. Even if you call next() with no error as shown above, the function call will still error out.

Aggregation Hooks

You can also define hooks for the Model.aggregate() function. In aggregation middleware functions, this refers to the Mongoose Aggregate object. For example, suppose you're implementing soft deletes on a Customer model by adding an isDeleted property. To make sure aggregate() calls only look at customers that aren't soft deleted, you can use the below middleware to add a $match stage to the beginning of each aggregation pipeline.

customerSchema.pre('aggregate', function() {
  // Add a $match state to the beginning of each pipeline.
  this.pipeline().unshift({ $match: { isDeleted: { $ne: true } } });

The Aggregate#pipeline() function lets you access the MongoDB aggregation pipeline that Mongoose will send to the MongoDB server. It is useful for adding stages to the beginning of the pipeline from middleware.

Synchronous Hooks

Certain Mongoose hooks are synchronous, which means they do not support functions that return promises or receive a next() callback. Currently, only init hooks are synchronous, because the init() function is synchronous. Below is an example of using pre and post init hooks.

[require:post init hooks.*success]

To report an error in an init hook, you must throw a synchronous error. Unlike all other middleware, init middleware does not handle promise rejections.

[require:post init hooks.*error]

Next Up

Now that we've covered middleware, let's take a look at Mongoose's approach to faking JOINs with its query population helper.