Add an executable to the project using the specified source files.

Normal Executables

add_executable(<name> <options>... <sources>...)

Add an executable target called <name> to be built from the source files listed in the command invocation.

The options are:


Set the WIN32_EXECUTABLE target property automatically. See documentation of that target property for details.


Set the MACOSX_BUNDLE target property automatically. See documentation of that target property for details.


Set the EXCLUDE_FROM_ALL target property automatically. See documentation of that target property for details.

The <name> corresponds to the logical target name and must be globally unique within a project. The actual file name of the executable built is constructed based on conventions of the native platform (such as <name>.exe or just <name>).

New in version 3.1: Source arguments to add_executable may use "generator expressions" with the syntax $<...>. See the cmake-generator-expressions(7) manual for available expressions.

New in version 3.11: The source files can be omitted if they are added later using target_sources().

By default the executable file will be created in the build tree directory corresponding to the source tree directory in which the command was invoked. See documentation of the RUNTIME_OUTPUT_DIRECTORY target property to change this location. See documentation of the OUTPUT_NAME target property to change the <name> part of the final file name.

See the cmake-buildsystem(7) manual for more on defining buildsystem properties.

See also HEADER_FILE_ONLY on what to do if some sources are pre-processed, and you want to have the original sources reachable from within IDE.

Imported Executables

add_executable(<name> IMPORTED [GLOBAL])

Add an IMPORTED executable target to reference an executable file located outside the project. The target name may be referenced like any target built within the project, except that by default it is visible only in the directory in which it is created, and below.

The options are:


Make the target name globally visible.

No rules are generated to build imported targets, and the IMPORTED target property is True. Imported executables are useful for convenient reference from commands like add_custom_command().

Details about the imported executable are specified by setting properties whose names begin in IMPORTED_. The most important such property is IMPORTED_LOCATION (and its per-configuration version IMPORTED_LOCATION_<CONFIG>) which specifies the location of the main executable file on disk. See documentation of the IMPORTED_* properties for more information.

Alias Executables

add_executable(<name> ALIAS <target>)

Creates an Alias Target, such that <name> can be used to refer to <target> in subsequent commands. The <name> does not appear in the generated buildsystem as a make target. The <target> may not be an ALIAS.

New in version 3.11: An ALIAS can target a GLOBAL Imported Target

New in version 3.18: An ALIAS can target a non-GLOBAL Imported Target. Such alias is scoped to the directory in which it is created and subdirectories. The ALIAS_GLOBAL target property can be used to check if the alias is global or not.

ALIAS targets can be used as targets to read properties from, executables for custom commands and custom targets. They can also be tested for existence with the regular if(TARGET) subcommand. The <name> may not be used to modify properties of <target>, that is, it may not be used as the operand of set_property(), set_target_properties(), target_link_libraries() etc. An ALIAS target may not be installed or exported.

See Also