Using GCC with Visual Studio on Windows: A Comprehensive Guide

  1. Introduction
  2. Step 1: Install MinGW
  3. Step 2: Set Up Environment Variables
  4. Step 3: Configure Visual Studio
  5. Step 4: Compile and Run
  6. Conclusion


If you're a developer who uses Visual Studio on Windows, you may have encountered situations where you need to use GCC instead of the default Microsoft C++ compiler. This can be useful for cross-platform development or when working with open-source projects that require GCC. Fortunately, it's possible to use GCC with Visual Studio on Windows. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the steps to set up GCC with Visual Studio.

Step 1: Install MinGW

The first step is to install MinGW, which is a collection of GNU tools for Windows. You can download the installer from the official website ( During the installation, make sure to select the "mingw32-base" and "mingw32-gcc-g++" components.

Step 2: Set Up Environment Variables

After installing MinGW, you need to set up environment variables to make it accessible to Visual Studio. Open the "System Properties" window by right-clicking on "This PC" and selecting "Properties". Then, click on "Advanced system settings" and go to the "Environment Variables" section.

Under "System variables", click on "New" and add the following variables:

- Variable name: "MINGW_HOME"
- Variable value: "C:MinGW"

- Variable name: "PATH"
- Variable value: ";%MINGW_HOME%bin"

Step 3: Configure Visual Studio

Now that MinGW is installed and the environment variables are set up, you can configure Visual Studio to use GCC. Open Visual Studio and create a new C++ project. Then, go to "Project Properties" and select "Configuration Properties" > "General".

In the "Project Defaults" section, change the "Platform Toolset" to "MinGW". This tells Visual Studio to use the GCC compiler instead of the default Microsoft C++ compiler.

Step 4: Compile and Run

Finally, you can compile and run your project using GCC. Make sure to select "Release" or "Debug" as the build configuration. Then, build the project by clicking on "Build" > "Build Solution". If there are no errors, you should see a "Build succeeded" message in the output window.

To run the project, go to "Debug" > "Start Without Debugging". This will launch the executable file in the command prompt.


Using GCC with Visual Studio on Windows is a useful skill for developers who work with cross-platform projects or open-source software. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can easily set up GCC with Visual Studio and start using it for your projects. Remember to always select the "MinGW" platform toolset in your project properties to ensure that GCC is being used.

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