Add include directories to a target.

target_include_directories(<target> [SYSTEM] [AFTER|BEFORE]
  [<INTERFACE|PUBLIC|PRIVATE> [items2...] ...])

Specifies include directories to use when compiling a given target. The named <target> must have been created by a command such as add_executable() or add_library() and must not be an ALIAS target.

By using AFTER or BEFORE explicitly, you can select between appending and prepending, independent of the default.

The INTERFACE, PUBLIC and PRIVATE keywords are required to specify the scope of the following arguments. PRIVATE and PUBLIC items will populate the INCLUDE_DIRECTORIES property of <target>. PUBLIC and INTERFACE items will populate the INTERFACE_INCLUDE_DIRECTORIES property of <target>. The following arguments specify include directories.

New in version 3.11: Allow setting INTERFACE items on IMPORTED targets.

Repeated calls for the same <target> append items in the order called.

If SYSTEM is specified, the compiler will be told the directories are meant as system include directories on some platforms. This may have effects such as suppressing warnings or skipping the contained headers in dependency calculations (see compiler documentation). Additionally, system include directories are searched after normal include directories regardless of the order specified.

If SYSTEM is used together with PUBLIC or INTERFACE, the INTERFACE_SYSTEM_INCLUDE_DIRECTORIES target property will be populated with the specified directories.

Arguments to target_include_directories may use generator expressions with the syntax $<...>. See the cmake-generator-expressions(7) manual for available expressions. See the cmake-buildsystem(7) manual for more on defining buildsystem properties.

Specified include directories may be absolute paths or relative paths. A relative path will be interpreted as relative to the current source directory (i.e. CMAKE_CURRENT_SOURCE_DIR) and converted to an absolute path before storing it in the associated target property. If the path starts with a generator expression, it will always be assumed to be an absolute path (with one exception noted below) and will be used unmodified.

Include directories usage requirements commonly differ between the build-tree and the install-tree. The BUILD_INTERFACE and INSTALL_INTERFACE generator expressions can be used to describe separate usage requirements based on the usage location. Relative paths are allowed within the INSTALL_INTERFACE expression and are interpreted as relative to the installation prefix. Relative paths should not be used in BUILD_INTERFACE expressions because they will not be converted to absolute. For example:

target_include_directories(mylib PUBLIC
  $<INSTALL_INTERFACE:include/mylib>  # <prefix>/include/mylib

Creating Relocatable Packages

Note that it is not advisable to populate the INSTALL_INTERFACE of the INTERFACE_INCLUDE_DIRECTORIES of a target with absolute paths to the include directories of dependencies. That would hard-code into installed packages the include directory paths for dependencies as found on the machine the package was made on.

The INSTALL_INTERFACE of the INTERFACE_INCLUDE_DIRECTORIES is only suitable for specifying the required include directories for headers provided with the target itself, not those provided by the transitive dependencies listed in its INTERFACE_LINK_LIBRARIES target property. Those dependencies should themselves be targets that specify their own header locations in INTERFACE_INCLUDE_DIRECTORIES.

See the Creating Relocatable Packages section of the cmake-packages(7) manual for discussion of additional care that must be taken when specifying usage requirements while creating packages for redistribution.

See Also