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Using CMake in MSYS2


When building projects for Windows with CMake (as opposed to building projects that are going to run in MSYS2 posix emulation runtime) make sure to install the MinGW version of CMake, i.e. installing e.g. mingw-w64-x86_64-cmake.

You also want to install a tool for actually doing the build. The current recommended default is Ninja, which you can install from the mingw-w64-x86_64-ninja package.

(Other alternatives are make or mingw-w64-x86_64-make, for building with GNU Make running either as a MSYS2 or MinGW process.)


When running the CMake configuration command, it's recommended to explicitly specify the desired build file generator with the -G option. MSYS2 provided CMake defaults to Ninja (but this is not the default in upstream CMake, so it's safest to explicitly specify it).

Thus, to configure and build a CMake based project, you can run the following commands:

$ cmake -G Ninja <path-to-source> -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release
$ cmake --build .

The relevant generator alternatives are:

  • -G Ninja
  • -G "MSYS Makefiles"
  • -G "MinGW Makefiles"

If building by invoking cmake --build, the same command works for all generator choices. Alternatively, to build by directly invoking the build tool, you can call ninja, make or mingw32-make respectively for those three alternatives.


For building projects with CMake in MSYS2 in Github Actions, see the CMake Example.