A short-hand signature is:

find_path (<VAR> name1 [path1 path2 ...])

The general signature is:

find_path (
          name | NAMES name1 [name2 ...]
          [HINTS path1 [path2 ... ENV var]]
          [PATHS path1 [path2 ... ENV var]]
          [PATH_SUFFIXES suffix1 [suffix2 ...]]
          [DOC "cache documentation string"]

This command is used to find a directory containing the named file. A cache entry named by <VAR> is created to store the result of this command. If the file in a directory is found the result is stored in the variable and the search will not be repeated unless the variable is cleared. If nothing is found, the result will be <VAR>-NOTFOUND, and the search will be attempted again the next time find_path is invoked with the same variable.

Options include:


Specify one or more possible names for the file in a directory.

When using this to specify names with and without a version suffix, we recommend specifying the unversioned name first so that locally-built packages can be found before those provided by distributions.

Specify directories to search in addition to the default locations. The ENV var sub-option reads paths from a system environment variable.
Specify additional subdirectories to check below each directory location otherwise considered.
Specify the documentation string for the <VAR> cache entry.

If NO_DEFAULT_PATH is specified, then no additional paths are added to the search. If NO_DEFAULT_PATH is not specified, the search process is as follows:

  1. If called from within a find module, search prefix paths unique to the current package being found. Specifically look in the PackageName_ROOT CMake and environment variables. The package root variables are maintained as a stack so if called from nested find modules, root paths from the parent’s find module will be searched after paths from the current module, i.e. CurrentPackage_ROOT, ENV{CurrentPackage_ROOT}, ParentPackage_ROOT, ENV{ParentPackage_ROOT}, etc. This can be skipped if NO_PACKAGE_ROOT_PATH is passed. See policy CMP0074.
    • <prefix>/include/<arch> if CMAKE_LIBRARY_ARCHITECTURE is set, and <prefix>/include for each <prefix> in PackageName_ROOT if called from within a find module
  2. Search paths specified in cmake-specific cache variables. These are intended to be used on the command line with a -DVAR=value. The values are interpreted as ;-lists. This can be skipped if NO_CMAKE_PATH is passed.
  3. Search paths specified in cmake-specific environment variables. These are intended to be set in the user’s shell configuration, and therefore use the host’s native path separator (; on Windows and : on UNIX). This can be skipped if NO_CMAKE_ENVIRONMENT_PATH is passed.
  4. Search the paths specified by the HINTS option. These should be paths computed by system introspection, such as a hint provided by the location of another item already found. Hard-coded guesses should be specified with the PATHS option.
  5. Search the standard system environment variables. This can be skipped if NO_SYSTEM_ENVIRONMENT_PATH is an argument.
    • Directories in INCLUDE. On Windows hosts: <prefix>/include/<arch> if CMAKE_LIBRARY_ARCHITECTURE is set, and <prefix>/include for each <prefix>/[s]bin in PATH, and <entry>/include for other entries in PATH, and the directories in PATH itself.
  6. Search cmake variables defined in the Platform files for the current system. This can be skipped if NO_CMAKE_SYSTEM_PATH is passed.
  7. Search the paths specified by the PATHS option or in the short-hand version of the command. These are typically hard-coded guesses.

On OS X the CMAKE_FIND_FRAMEWORK and CMAKE_FIND_APPBUNDLE variables determine the order of preference between Apple-style and unix-style package components.

The CMake variable CMAKE_FIND_ROOT_PATH specifies one or more directories to be prepended to all other search directories. This effectively “re-roots” the entire search under given locations. Paths which are descendants of the CMAKE_STAGING_PREFIX are excluded from this re-rooting, because that variable is always a path on the host system. By default the CMAKE_FIND_ROOT_PATH is empty.

The CMAKE_SYSROOT variable can also be used to specify exactly one directory to use as a prefix. Setting CMAKE_SYSROOT also has other effects. See the documentation for that variable for more.

These variables are especially useful when cross-compiling to point to the root directory of the target environment and CMake will search there too. By default at first the directories listed in CMAKE_FIND_ROOT_PATH are searched, then the CMAKE_SYSROOT directory is searched, and then the non-rooted directories will be searched. The default behavior can be adjusted by setting CMAKE_FIND_ROOT_PATH_MODE_INCLUDE. This behavior can be manually overridden on a per-call basis using options:

Search in the order described above.
Do not use the CMAKE_FIND_ROOT_PATH variable.
Search only the re-rooted directories and directories below CMAKE_STAGING_PREFIX.

The default search order is designed to be most-specific to least-specific for common use cases. Projects may override the order by simply calling the command multiple times and using the NO_* options:

find_path (<VAR> NAMES name PATHS paths... NO_DEFAULT_PATH)
find_path (<VAR> NAMES name)

Once one of the calls succeeds the result variable will be set and stored in the cache so that no call will search again.

When searching for frameworks, if the file is specified as A/b.h, then the framework search will look for A.framework/Headers/b.h. If that is found the path will be set to the path to the framework. CMake will convert this to the correct -F option to include the file.