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  2. docs/
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  4. samples/
  5. scripts/
  6. src/
  7. test/
  8. CMakeLists.txt

Generic Build Instructions


To build Google Test and your tests that use it, you need to tell your build system where to find its headers and source files. The exact way to do it depends on which build system you use, and is usually straightforward.

Build with CMake

Google Test comes with a CMake build script ( CMakeLists.txt) that can be used on a wide range of platforms (“C” stands for cross-platform.). If you don't have CMake installed already, you can download it for free from

CMake works by generating native makefiles or build projects that can be used in the compiler environment of your choice. You can either build Google Test as a standalone project or it can be incorporated into an existing CMake build for another project.

Standalone CMake Project

When building Google Test as a standalone project, the typical workflow starts with:

mkdir mybuild       # Create a directory to hold the build output.
cd mybuild
cmake ${GTEST_DIR}  # Generate native build scripts.

If you want to build Google Test's samples, you should replace the last command with

cmake -Dgtest_build_samples=ON ${GTEST_DIR}

If you are on a *nix system, you should now see a Makefile in the current directory. Just type ‘make’ to build gtest.

If you use Windows and have Visual Studio installed, a gtest.sln file and several .vcproj files will be created. You can then build them using Visual Studio.

On Mac OS X with Xcode installed, a .xcodeproj file will be generated.

Incorporating Into An Existing CMake Project

If you want to use gtest in a project which already uses CMake, then a more robust and flexible approach is to build gtest as part of that project directly. This is done by making the GoogleTest source code available to the main build and adding it using CMake‘s add_subdirectory() command. This has the significant advantage that the same compiler and linker settings are used between gtest and the rest of your project, so issues associated with using incompatible libraries (eg debug/release), etc. are avoided. This is particularly useful on Windows. Making GoogleTest’s source code available to the main build can be done a few different ways:

  • Download the GoogleTest source code manually and place it at a known location. This is the least flexible approach and can make it more difficult to use with continuous integration systems, etc.
  • Embed the GoogleTest source code as a direct copy in the main project's source tree. This is often the simplest approach, but is also the hardest to keep up to date. Some organizations may not permit this method.
  • Add GoogleTest as a git submodule or equivalent. This may not always be possible or appropriate. Git submodules, for example, have their own set of advantages and drawbacks.
  • Use CMake to download GoogleTest as part of the build‘s configure step. This is just a little more complex, but doesn’t have the limitations of the other methods.

The last of the above methods is implemented with a small piece of CMake code in a separate file (e.g. which is copied to the build area and then invoked as a sub-build during the CMake stage. That directory is then pulled into the main build with add_subdirectory(). For example:

New file

cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 2.8.2)

project(googletest-download NONE)

  GIT_TAG           master
  SOURCE_DIR        "${CMAKE_CURRENT_BINARY_DIR}/googletest-src"
  BINARY_DIR        "${CMAKE_CURRENT_BINARY_DIR}/googletest-build"
  TEST_COMMAND      ""

Existing build's CMakeLists.txt:

# Download and unpack googletest at configure time
configure_file( googletest-download/CMakeLists.txt)
  message(FATAL_ERROR "CMake step for googletest failed: ${result}")
execute_process(COMMAND ${CMAKE_COMMAND} --build .
  message(FATAL_ERROR "Build step for googletest failed: ${result}")

# Prevent overriding the parent project's compiler/linker
# settings on Windows
set(gtest_force_shared_crt ON CACHE BOOL "" FORCE)

# Add googletest directly to our build. This defines
# the gtest and gtest_main targets.

# The gtest/gtest_main targets carry header search path
# dependencies automatically when using CMake 2.8.11 or
# later. Otherwise we have to add them here ourselves.

# Now simply link against gtest or gtest_main as needed. Eg
add_executable(example example.cpp)
target_link_libraries(example gtest_main)
add_test(NAME example_test COMMAND example)

Note that this approach requires CMake 2.8.2 or later due to its use of the ExternalProject_Add() command. The above technique is discussed in more detail in this separate article which also contains a link to a fully generalized implementation of the technique.

Visual Studio Dynamic vs Static Runtimes

By default, new Visual Studio projects link the C runtimes dynamically but Google Test links them statically. This will generate an error that looks something like the following: gtest.lib(gtest-all.obj) : error LNK2038: mismatch detected for ‘RuntimeLibrary’: value ‘MTd_StaticDebug’ doesn't match value ‘MDd_DynamicDebug’ in main.obj

Google Test already has a CMake option for this: gtest_force_shared_crt

Enabling this option will make gtest link the runtimes dynamically too, and match the project in which it is included.

C++ Standard Version

An environment that supports C++11 is required in order to successfully build Google Test. One way to ensure this is to specify the standard in the top-level project, for example by using the set(CMAKE_CXX_STANDARD 11) command. If this is not feasible, for example in a C project using Google Test for validation, then it can be specified by adding it to the options for cmake via the DCMAKE_CXX_FLAGS option.

Tweaking Google Test

Google Test can be used in diverse environments. The default configuration may not work (or may not work well) out of the box in some environments. However, you can easily tweak Google Test by defining control macros on the compiler command line. Generally, these macros are named like GTEST_XYZ and you define them to either 1 or 0 to enable or disable a certain feature.

We list the most frequently used macros below. For a complete list, see file include/gtest/internal/gtest-port.h.

Multi-threaded Tests

Google Test is thread-safe where the pthread library is available. After #include "gtest/gtest.h", you can check the GTEST_IS_THREADSAFE macro to see whether this is the case (yes if the macro is #defined to 1, no if it's undefined.).

If Google Test doesn't correctly detect whether pthread is available in your environment, you can force it with




When Google Test uses pthread, you may need to add flags to your compiler and/or linker to select the pthread library, or you‘ll get link errors. If you use the CMake script or the deprecated Autotools script, this is taken care of for you. If you use your own build script, you’ll need to read your compiler and linker's manual to figure out what flags to add.

As a Shared Library (DLL)

Google Test is compact, so most users can build and link it as a static library for the simplicity. You can choose to use Google Test as a shared library (known as a DLL on Windows) if you prefer.

To compile gtest as a shared library, add


to the compiler flags. You‘ll also need to tell the linker to produce a shared library instead - consult your linker’s manual for how to do it.

To compile your tests that use the gtest shared library, add


to the compiler flags.

Note: while the above steps aren't technically necessary today when using some compilers (e.g. GCC), they may become necessary in the future, if we decide to improve the speed of loading the library (see for details). Therefore you are recommended to always add the above flags when using Google Test as a shared library. Otherwise a future release of Google Test may break your build script.

Avoiding Macro Name Clashes

In C++, macros don't obey namespaces. Therefore two libraries that both define a macro of the same name will clash if you #include both definitions. In case a Google Test macro clashes with another library, you can force Google Test to rename its macro to avoid the conflict.

Specifically, if both Google Test and some other code define macro FOO, you can add


to the compiler flags to tell Google Test to change the macro‘s name from FOO to GTEST_FOO. Currently FOO can be FAIL, SUCCEED, or TEST. For example, with -DGTEST_DONT_DEFINE_TEST=1, you’ll need to write

GTEST_TEST(SomeTest, DoesThis) { ... }

instead of

TEST(SomeTest, DoesThis) { ... }

in order to define a test.