© 2017 IOP Publishing Ltd. 2D transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) are commonly grown by chemical vapor deposition using transition metal oxides as solid precursors. Despite the widespread use of this technique, challenges in reproducibility, coverage, and material quality are pervasive, suggestive of unknown and uncontrolled process parameters. In this communication, we demonstrate the impact of water vapor on this growth process. Our results show a direct correlation between gas phase water content and the morphology of TMD films. In particular, we show that the presence of water enhances volatilization, and therefore the vapor transport of tungsten and molybdenum oxide. Surprisingly, we find that water not only plays an important role in volatilization but is also compatible with TMD growth. In fact, carefully controlled humidity can consistently produce high quality, luminescent materials.