Version: 3.2.6
Installing wxWidgets for Windows

This is wxWidgets for Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, 11) including both 32 bit and 64 bit versions.


If you are using one of the supported compilers, you can use pre-built binaries.

In this case, just uncompress the binaries archive under any directory and skip to Building Applications Using wxWidgets part.

Otherwise, or if you want to build a configuration of the library different from the default one, you need to build the library from sources before using it.

If you use CMake, please see CMake Overview for building wxWidgets using it.

The first step, which you may have already performed, unless you are reading this file online, is to download the source archive and uncompress it in any directory. It is strongly advised to avoid using spaces in the name of this directory, i.e. notably do not choose a location under "C:\Program Files", as this risks creating problems with makefiles and other command-line tools.

After choosing the directory location, please define WXWIN environment variable containing the full path to this directory. While this is not actually required, this makes using the library more convenient and this environment variable is used in the examples below.

Building wxWidgets

The following sections explain how to compile wxWidgets with each supported compiler, see the "Building Applications" section about the instructions for building your application using wxWidgets.

All makefiles and project are located in build\msw directory.

Microsoft Visual C++ Compilation

From the IDE

Ready to use project files are provided for VC++ versions 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 (also known as MSVS 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2022 respectively).

Simply open wx_vcN.sln (for N=8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 or 17) file, select the appropriate configuration (Debug or Release, static or DLL) and build the solution. Notice that when building a DLL configuration, you may need to perform the build several times because the projects are not always built in the correct order, and this may result in link errors. Simply do the build again, up to 3 times, to fix this.

From the command line

wxWidgets can also be built from the command line using the provided makefiles.

This needs to be done from the "Visual Studio Command Prompt" window, which can be opened using a shortcut installed to the "Start" menu or the "Start" screen by MSVS installation.

In this window, change directory to %WXWIN%\build\msw and type

    > nmake /f

to build wxWidgets in the default debug configuration as a static library. You can also do

    > nmake /f BUILD=release

to build a release version or

    > nmake /f BUILD=release SHARED=1 TARGET_CPU=X86

to build a 32 bit release DLL version from an x86 command prompt, or

    > nmake /f BUILD=release SHARED=1 TARGET_CPU=X64

to build a 64 bit release DLL version from an x64 command prompt.

See Make Parameters for more information about the additional parameters that can be specified on the command line.

To verify your build, change the directory to %WXWIN%\samples\minimal and run the same nmake command (with the same parameters there), this should create a working minimal wxWidgets sample.

If you need to rebuild, use "clean" target first or "nmake /a".

Using vcpkg

You can download and install wxWidgets using the vcpkg dependency manager:

> git clone
> cd vcpkg
> bootstrap-vcpkg.bat
> vcpkg integrate install
> vcpkg install wxwidgets
> vcpkg install wxwidgets:x64-windows

The wxWidgets port in vcpkg is kept up to date by Microsoft team members and community contributors. If the version is out of date, please create an issue or pull request on the vcpkg repository.

Special notes for Visual Studio 2010+

For Visual Studio 2010+ solutions it is possible to customize the build by creating a wx_local.props file in the build\msw directory which is used, if it exists, by the projects. The settings in that file override the default values for the properties such as wxCfg (corresponding to the CFG makefile variable described below) or wxVendor (corresponding to VENDOR). The typical way to make the file is to copy wx_setup.props to wx_local.props and then edit local.

For example, if you are building wxWidgets libraries using multiple versions of Visual Studio you could change wxCompilerPrefix to include the toolset:

-    <wxCompilerPrefix>vc</wxCompilerPrefix>
+    <wxCompilerPrefix>vc$(PlatformToolsetVersion)</wxCompilerPrefix>

Following that example if you are using Visual Studio 2013 and open wx_vc12.sln it will build using the "vc120" prefix for the build directories so to allow its build files to coexist with the files produced by the other MSVC versions.

Keep in mind that by using a separate local props file you ensure that your changes won't be lost when updating to a future wxWidgets version. But if wx_setup.props is updated in some later commit your wx_local.props is not updated with it. For example the version information in wx_setup.props could change and the information in your wx_local.props would be outdated. It is your responsibility to monitor for such situations.

Improve debugging for Visual Studio 2012+

Debug visualizers for Visual Studio 2012+ are provided which makes inspecting various wxWidgets classes easier to view while debugging. To use them:

  1. Open the folder %WXWIN%\misc\msvc
  2. Open the folder %USERPROFILE%\My Documents\Visual Studio 2012\Visualizers (or the corresponding location for newer versions, e.g. ...2013\Visualizers)
  3. Copy wxWidgets.natvis and
  4. For Visual Studio 2013+ additionally copy wxWidgets.2013.natvis

MinGW Compilation

wxWidgets supports several different gcc-based toolchains under Windows, including:

Please retrieve and install the latest version of your preferred tool chain by following the instructions provided by these packages.

Additionally note that MinGW-w64 can be used as a cross-compiler from Unix systems, including WSL.

All of these tool chains can be used either with Unix-like configure+make build process (preferred) or with the provided makefile.gcc makefiles without using configure.

Using configure

This method works in exactly the same way as under Unix systems, and requires a Unix-like environment to work, i.e. one of MSYS, MSYS2 or Cygwin, so the following steps should be done from MSYS or Cygwin shell prompt:

  1. Create a build directory: it is strongly recommended to not build the library in the directory containing the sources ($WXWIN) but to create a separate build directory instead. The build directory can be placed anywhere (using the fastest available disk may be a good idea), but in this example we create it as a subdirectory of the source one:
     $ cd $WXWIN
     $ mkdir build-debug
     $ cd build-debug
  2. Run configure passing it any of the options shown by configure --help. Notice that configure builds shared libraries by default, use --disable-shared to build static ones. For example:
     $ ../configure --enable-debug
  3. Build the library:
     $ make
  4. Test the library build by building the minimal sample:
     $ cd samples/minimal
     $ make
  5. Optionally install the library in a global location
     $ make install
    Notice that there is not much benefice to installing under Windows so this step can usually be omitted.

Using makefiles from Windows command line

The makefile.gcc makefiles are for compilation using MinGW using Windows command interpreter (cmd.exe), they will not work if you use Unix shell, as is the case with MSYS. Follow the instructions for using configure above instead if you prefer to use Unix shell. The commands shown here must be executed from a DOS command line window (cmd.exe, not Bash sh.exe).

  1. Change directory to %WXWIN%\build\msw and type

     > mingw32-make -f makefile.gcc

    to build wxWidgets in the default debug configuration as a static library. Add "BUILD=release" and/or "SHARED=1" to build the library in release configuration and/or as a shared library instead of the default static one, see Make Parameters for more details.

    NOTE: For parallel builds, i.e. using -jN make option, please run the make command first without the -jN option and with setup_h target specified, e.g. mingw32-make ... setup_h. Only after that run the make command with the same wxWidgets build options but now with the -jN option and without setup_h target, e.g. mingw32-make -j4 .... All this is necessary to work around the bug in the makefile.

  2. To verify your build, change the directory to samples\minimal and run the same mingw32-make command (with the same parameters there), this should create a working minimal wxWidgets sample.
  3. If you need to rebuild, use "clean" target first.

Make Parameters

NOTE: If you use configure to build the library with MinGW, the contents of this section does not apply, just pass the arguments to configure directly in this case.

Library configuration

While it is never necessary to do it, you may want to change some of the options in the %WXWIN%\include\wx\msw\setup.h file before building wxWidgets. This file is heavily commented, please read it and enable or disable the features you would like to compile wxWidgets with[out].

Notice that this file is later copied into a directory under lib for each of the build configurations which allows to have different build options for different configurations too if you edit any configuration-specific file.

Makefile parameters

When building using makefiles, you can specify many build settings (unlike when using the project files where you are limited to choosing just the configuration and platform). This can be done either by passing the values as arguments when invoking make or by editing build\msw\config.$compiler file where $compiler is the same extension as the makefile you use has (see below). The latter is good for setting options that never change in your development process (e.g. GCC_VERSION or VENDOR). If you want to build several versions of wxWidgets and use them side by side, the former method is better. Settings in config.* files are shared by all makefiles (including the samples), but if you pass the options as arguments, you must use the same arguments you used for the library when building samples!

For example, to build the library in release mode you can either change the "BUILD" variable definition in build\msw\config.$compiler or use

    > nmake -f BUILD=debug
    > mingw32-make -f makefile.gcc BUILD=debug

depending on the compiler used.

The full list of the build settings follows:

  • BUILD=release

    Builds release version of the library. It differs from default 'debug' in lack of appended 'd' in name of library and uses the release CRT libraries instead of debug ones. Notice that even release builds do include debug information by default, see DEBUG_FLAG for more information about it.

  • SHARED=1

    Build shared libraries (DLLs). By default, DLLs are not built (SHARED=0).


    To completely disable Unicode support (default is UNICODE=1). It should not be necessary to do this.

    This option affect name of the library ('u' is appended in the default Unicode build) and the directory where the library and setup.h are stored (ditto).

  • WXUNIV=1

    Build wxUniversal instead of native wxMSW


    Starting with version 2.5.1, wxWidgets has the ability to be built as several smaller libraries instead of single big one as used to be the case in 2.4 and older versions. This is called "multilib build" and is the default behaviour of makefiles. You can still build single library ("monolithic build") by setting MONOLITHIC variable to 1.

  • USE_GUI=0

    Disable building GUI parts of the library, build only wxBase components used by console applications. Note that if you leave USE_GUI=1 then both wxBase and GUI libraries are built.


    Do not build the corresponding library (all libraries are built by default). Library which can be disabled in this way are: AUI, HTML, MEDIA, GL (the option name is USE_OPENGL for this one), PROPGRID, QA, RIBBON, RICHTEXT, STC, WEBVIEW, XRC.

  • RUNTIME_LIBS=static

    (VC++ only.) Links static version of C and C++ runtime libraries into the executable, so that the program does not depend on DLLs provided with the compiler. Caution: Do not use static runtime libraries when building DLL (SHARED=1)!


    Specifies the level of debug support in wxWidgets. Notice that this is independent from both BUILD and DEBUG_INFO options. By default always set to 1 meaning that debug support is enabled: asserts are compiled into the code (they are inactive by default in release builds of the application but can be enabled), wxLogDebug() and wxLogTrace() are available and __WXDEBUG__ is defined. Setting it to 0 completely disables all debugging code in wxWidgets while setting it to 2 enables even the time consuming assertions and checks which are deemed to be unsuitable for production environment.


    This option affects whether debugging information is generated. If omitted or set to 'default' its value is determined the value of the BUILD option.


    (VC++ only.) If set to 1, msvcrtd.dll is used, if to 0, msvcrt.dll is used. By default msvcrtd.dll is used only if the executable contains debug info and msvcrt.dll if it doesn't. It is sometimes desirable to build with debug info and still link against msvcrt.dll (e.g. when you want to ship the app to customers and still have usable .pdb files with debug information) and this setting makes it possible.


    (VC++ only.) Set this variable to build for x86_64 systems. If unset, x86 build is performed.

  • VENDOR=<your company name>

    Set this to a short string identifying your company if you are planning to distribute wxWidgets DLLs with your application. Default value is 'custom'. This string is included as part of DLL name. wxWidgets DLLs contain compiler name, version information and vendor name in them. For example wxmsw311u_core_vc_custom.dll is one of DLLs build using Visual C++ with default settings. If you set VENDOR=mycorp, the name will change to wxmsw311u_core_vc_mycorp.dll.

  • CFG=<configuration name>

    Sets configuration name so that you can have multiple wxWidgets builds with different setup.h settings coexisting in same tree. The value of this option is appended to the build directories names. This is useful for building the library in some non-default configuration, e.g. you could change wxUSE_STL to 1 in %WXWIN%\include\wx\msw\setup.h and then build with CFG=-stl. Alternatively, you could build with e.g. RUNTIME_LIBS=static CFG=-mt when using MSVC.

  • COMPILER_PREFIX=<string>

    If you build with multiple versions of the same compiler, you can put their outputs into directories like vc6_lib, vc8_lib etc. instead of vc_lib by setting this variable to e.g. vc6. This is merely a convenience variable, you can achieve the same effect (but different directory names) with the CFG option.


    Additional flags to be used with C compiler, C++ compiler, C preprocessor (used for both C and C++ compilation) and linker, respectively.

Building Applications Using wxWidgets

If you use MSVS 2010 or later IDE for building your project, simply add wxwidgets.props property sheet to (all) your project(s) using wxWidgets by using "View|Property Manager" menu item to open the property manager window and then selecting "Add Existing Property Sheet..." from the context menu in this window.

If you've created a new empty project (i.e. chose "Empty Project" in the "Create a new project" window shown by MSVS rather than "Windows Desktop"), you need to change "Linker|System|SubSystem" in the project properties to "Windows", from the default "Console". You don't need to do anything else.

If you want to use CMake for building your project, please see CMake Overview.

Otherwise follow the instructions below for "manual" setup of your project.

We suppose that wxWidgets sources are under the directory $WXWIN (notice that different tool chains refer to environment variables such as WXWIN in different ways, e.g. MSVC users should use $(WXWIN) instead of just $WXWIN). And we will use <wx-lib-dir> as a shortcut for the subdirectory of $WXWIN\lib which is composed from several parts separated by underscore: first, a compiler-specific prefix (e.g. "vc" for MSVC, "gcc" for g++ or the value of COMPILER_PREFIX if you set it explicitly), then optional "x64" if building in 64 bits and finally either "lib" or "dll" depending on whether static or dynamic wx libraries are being used.

For example, WXWIN could be "c:\wxWidgets\3.4.5" and <wx-lib-dir> could be c:\wxWidgets\3.4.5\lib\vc_x64_lib for 64-bit static libraries built with MSVC.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Add $WXWIN\include to the
    • compiler
    • resource compiler include paths.
  • If using MSVC, prepend $WXWIN\include\msvc to the include paths too. Otherwise, append <wx-lib-dir>\mswu[d] to the include paths, where "d" should be used for debug builds only.
  • Define the following symbols for the preprocessor:
    • __WXMSW__ to ensure you use the correct wxWidgets port.
    • _UNICODE unless you want to use deprecated ANSI build of wxWidgets.
    • NDEBUG if you want to build in release mode, i.e. disable asserts.
    • WXUSINGDLL if you are using DLL build of wxWidgets.
  • If using MSVC 7 only (i.e. not for later versions), also define wxUSE_RC_MANIFEST=1 and WX_CPU_X86.
  • Add <wx-lib-dir> directory described above to the libraries path.

When using MSVC, the libraries are linked automatically using "#pragma comment(lib)" feature of this compiler. With all the other compilers you also need to:

  • Add the list of libraries to link with to the linker input. The exact list depends on which libraries you use and whether you built wxWidgets in monolithic or default multlib mode and basically should include all the relevant libraries from the directory above, e.g. `wxmsw31ud_core.lib wxbase31ud.lib wxtiffd.lib wxjpegd.lib wxpngd.lib wxzlibd.lib wxregexud.lib wxexpatd.lib` for a debug build of an application using the core library only (all wxWidgets applications use the base library).

Finally, please notice that the makefiles and project files provided with wxWidgets samples show which flags should be used when building applications using wxWidgets and always work, so in case of a problem, e.g. if the instructions here are out of date, you can always simply copy a makefile or project file from $WXWIN\samples\minimal or some other sample and adapt it to your application.

If you are not using Visual Studio 2010 or newer please see Windows XP Support to enable visual styles in your application.

Advanced Library Configurations

Build instructions to less common library configurations using different UI backends are available here.

Building with Win32 MSys2 backend

Building with Win32 MSys2 GDK backend

Building wxGTK port with Win32 GDK backend

Building with Win32 MSys2 Qt backend