CMake Integration

The latest version of this documentation is available on GitHub.

See Installing and Using Packages Example: sqlite for a fully worked example using CMake.

Table of Contents


Projects configured to use the vcpkg toolchain file (via the CMake setting CMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE) can find libraries from vcpkg using the standard CMake functions: find_package(), find_path(), and find_library().

cmake ../my/project -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=[vcpkg-root]/scripts/buildsystems/vcpkg.cmake

Since version 3.21, CMake will use the environment variable CMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE1 as the default value for CMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE.


set CMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=[vcpkg root]/scripts/buildsystems/vcpkg.cmake


$env:CMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE="[vcpkg root]/scripts/buildsystems/vcpkg.cmake"


export CMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=[vcpkg root]/scripts/buildsystems/vcpkg.cmake

vcpkg does not automatically add any include or links paths into your project. To use a header-only library you can use find_path() which will correctly work on all platforms:

# To find and use catch2
find_path(CATCH_INCLUDE_DIR NAMES catch.hpp PATH_SUFFIXES catch2)

IDE Integration

Visual Studio Code (CMake Tools Extension)

Adding the following to your workspace settings.json will make CMake Tools automatically use vcpkg for libraries:

  "cmake.configureSettings": {
    "CMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE": "[vcpkg root]/scripts/buildsystems/vcpkg.cmake"

Visual Studio

In the CMake Settings Editor, add the path to the vcpkg toolchain file under CMake toolchain file:

[vcpkg root]/scripts/buildsystems/vcpkg.cmake


Open the Toolchains settings (File > Settings on Windows and Linux, CLion > Preferences on macOS), and go to the CMake settings (Build, Execution, Deployment > CMake). In CMake options, add the following line:

-DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=[vcpkg root]/scripts/buildsystems/vcpkg.cmake

You must add this line to each profile separately.

Using Multiple Toolchain Files

To combine vcpkg's toolchain file with another toolchain file, you can set the cmake variable VCPKG_CHAINLOAD_TOOLCHAIN_FILE:

cmake ../my/project \
   -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=C:/vcpkg/scripts/buildsystems/vcpkg.cmake \

Alternatively, you can include the vcpkg toolchain at the end of the primary toolchain file:

# MyToolchain.cmake
set(VCPKG_TARGET_TRIPLET x64-my-custom-windows-triplet)

Note: vcpkg does not automatically apply your toolchain's settings, such as your compiler or compilation flags, while building libraries. To change vcpkg's library settings, you must make a custom triplet file (which can share your toolchain)

Settings Reference

All vcpkg-affecting variables must be defined before the first project() directive, such as via the command line or set() statements.


This setting controls the triplet vcpkg will install and consume libraries from.

If unset, vcpkg will automatically detect an appropriate default triplet given the current compiler settings. If you change this CMake variable, you must delete your cache and reconfigure.


This variable controls which triplet host dependencies will be installed for.

If unset, vcpkg will automatically detect an appropriate native triplet (x64-windows, x64-osx, x64-linux).

See also Host Dependencies.


This variable sets the location where libraries will be installed and consumed from.

In manifest mode, the default is ${CMAKE_BINARY_DIR}/vcpkg_installed.

In classic mode, the default is ${VCPKG_ROOT}/installed.


This variable forces vcpkg to operate in either manifest mode or classic mode.

Defaults to ON when VCPKG_MANIFEST_DIR is non-empty or ${CMAKE_SOURCE_DIR}/vcpkg.json exists.

To disable manifest mode while a vcpkg.json is detected, set this to OFF.


This variable specifies an alternate folder containing a vcpkg.json manifest.

Defaults to ${CMAKE_SOURCE_DIR} if ${CMAKE_SOURCE_DIR}/vcpkg.json exists.


This variable controls whether vcpkg will be automatically run to install your dependencies during your configure step.

Defaults to ON if VCPKG_MANIFEST_MODE is ON.


This variable can be set to additional command parameters to pass to ./bootstrap-vcpkg.

In manifest mode, vcpkg will be automatically bootstrapped if the executable does not exist.


This variable can be set to a list of paths to be passed on the command line as --overlay-triplets=...


This variable can be set to a list of paths to be passed on the command line as --overlay-ports=...


This variable can be set to a list of features to activate when installing from your manifest.

For example, features can be used by projects to control building with additional dependencies to enable tests or samples:

  "name": "mylibrary",
  "version": "1.0",
  "dependencies": [ "curl" ],
  "features": {
    "samples": {
      "description": "Build Samples",
      "dependencies": [ "fltk" ]
    "tests": {
      "description": "Build Tests",
      "dependencies": [ "gtest" ]
# CMakeLists.txt

option(BUILD_TESTING "Build tests" OFF)

option(BUILD_SAMPLES "Build samples" OFF)


# ...


This variable controls activation of default features in addition to those listed in VCPKG_MANIFEST_FEATURES. If set to ON, default features will not be automatically activated.

Defaults to OFF.


This variable can be set to a list of additional command line parameters to pass to the vcpkg tool during automatic installation.


This feature has been deprecated. Use empty overlay ports instead.

This variable controls whether vcpkg will append instead of prepend its paths to CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH, CMAKE_LIBRARY_PATH and CMAKE_FIND_ROOT_PATH so that vcpkg libraries/packages are found after toolchain/system libraries/packages.

Defaults to OFF.


This variable can be set to a list of feature flags to pass to the vcpkg tool during automatic installation to opt-in to experimental behavior.

See the --feature-flags= command line option for more information.


When this option is turned on, every call to find_package is printed. Nested calls (e.g. via find_dependency) are indented according to nesting depth.