CMake 3.19 Release Notes

Changes made since CMake 3.18 include the following.

New Features



  • The Xcode generator now uses the Xcode “new build system” when generating for Xcode 12.0 or higher. See the CMAKE_XCODE_BUILD_SYSTEM variable. One may use -T buildsystem=1 to switch to the legacy build system.

  • The Xcode generator gained support for linking libraries and frameworks via the Link Binaries With Libraries build phase instead of always by embedding linker flags directly. This behavior is controlled by a new XCODE_LINK_BUILD_PHASE_MODE target property, which is initialized by a new CMAKE_XCODE_LINK_BUILD_PHASE_MODE variable.

  • The Visual Studio Generators for VS 2015 and above gained support for the Visual Studio Tools for Android. One may now set CMAKE_SYSTEM_NAME to Android to generate .vcxproj files for the Android tools.


  • CMake learned to support ISPC as a first-class language that can be enabled via the project() and enable_language() commands. ISPC is currently supported by the Makefile Generators and the Ninja generator on Linux, macOS, and Windows using the Intel ISPC compiler.

  • CUDA language support for Clang now includes:

  • CUDA language support now works on QNX.


File-Based API

  • The cmake-file-api(7) “codemodel” version 2 version field has been updated to 2.2.

  • The cmake-file-api(7) “codemodel” version 2 “target” object gained a new languageStandard field in the compileGroups objects.


  • The cmake(1) command-line tool’s --install mode gained a --default-directory-permissions option.

  • cmake(1) gained a -E create_hardlink command-line tool that can be used to create hardlinks between files.


  • The CMake GUI now has an environment variable editor.


  • The add_test() command now (officially) supports whitespace and other special characters in the name for the test it creates. See policy CMP0110.

  • The cmake_language() command gained a DEFER mode to schedule command calls to occur at the end of processing a directory.

  • The configure_file() command gained a NO_SOURCE_PERMISSIONS option to suppress copying the input file’s permissions to the output file.

  • The execute_process() command gained a COMMAND_ERROR_IS_FATAL option to specify a fatal error.

  • The file(ARCHIVE_CREATE) command gained a COMPRESSION_LEVEL option to specify the compression level.

  • The file(CHMOD) and file(CHMOD_RECURSE) subcommands were added to set permissions of files and directories.

  • The file(DOWNLOAD) command <file> argument is now optional. If it is not specified, the file is not saved.

  • The file(GENERATE) command gained a new TARGET keyword to support resolving target-dependent generator expressions.

  • The file() command gained a new REAL_PATH sub-command to compute a path with symlinks resolved.

  • The find_package() command learned to handle a version range.

  • The separate_arguments() command gained a new PROGRAM option. It allows the arguments to be treated as a program invocation and will resolve the executable to a full path if it can be found.

  • The DIRECTORY option of the set_property(), get_property(), and get_directory_property() commands now accepts references to binary directory paths, such as the value of CMAKE_CURRENT_BINARY_DIR.

  • The string() command gained a set of new JSON sub commands that provide JSON parsing capabilities.




  • The CheckCompilerFlag module has been added to generalize CheckCCompilerFlag and CheckCXXCompilerFlag to more languages. It also supports the CUDA and ISPC languages.

  • The CheckLinkerFlag module now supports the CUDA language.

  • The CheckSourceCompiles module has been added to generalize CheckCSourceCompiles and CheckCXXSourceCompiles to more languages. It also supports the CUDA and ISPC languages.

  • The CheckSourceRuns module has been added to generalize CheckCSourceRuns and CheckCXXSourceRuns to more languages. It also supports the CUDA language.

  • The CMakePackageConfigHelpers module gained support for version ranges.

  • The FindCUDAToolkit module gained support for finding CUDA toolkits that do not contain nvcc, as well as for finding scattered toolkit installations when cross-compiling.

  • The FindPackageHandleStandardArgs module learned to handle version ranges. It also gained the find_package_check_version() command to check the validity of a version against version-related arguments of find_package() command.

  • The FindPython3, FindPython2 and FindPython modules gained the ability to handle a version range.

  • The FindPython3, FindPython2 and FindPython modules provide, respectively, the variable Python3_LINK_OPTIONS, Python2_LINK_OPTIONS and Python_LINK_OPTIONS for link options.

  • The FindSDL module now provides:

    • An imported target SDL::SDL.

    • Result variables SDL_LIBRARIES and SDL_INCLUDE_DIRS.


  • The FindSWIG module gained the ability to handle a version range.

  • The FindTIFF module gained a CXX component to find the tiffxx library containing C++ bindings.

  • The FindVulkan module now provides a Vulkan::glslc imported target and associated Vulkan_GLSLC_EXECUTABLE variable which contain the path to the GLSL SPIR-V compiler.

  • The UseSWIG module gained support for new source file properties OUTPUT_DIR and OUTFILE_DIR to manage output directories on a per-source basis.


  • ctest(1) now supports the CUDA compute-sanitizer checker (previously known as cuda-memcheck) as the CTEST_MEMORYCHECK_COMMAND. The different tools (memcheck, racecheck, synccheck and initcheck) supported by compute-sanitizer can be selected by adding appropriate flags to the CTEST_MEMORYCHECK_COMMAND_OPTIONS variable. The default flags are --tool memcheck --leak-check full.



Deprecated and Removed Features

  • Compatibility with versions of CMake older than 2.8.12 is now deprecated and will be removed from a future version. Calls to cmake_minimum_required() or cmake_policy() that set the policy version to an older value now issue a deprecation diagnostic.

  • An explicit deprecation diagnostic was added for policy CMP0071 (CMP0071 and below were already deprecated). The cmake-policies(7) manual explains that the OLD behaviors of all policies are deprecated and that projects should port to the NEW behaviors.

  • macOS SDKs older than 10.5 are no longer supported.

  • cmake-gui(1) now requires Qt5. Support for compiling with Qt4 has been removed.

  • The cmake(1) command-line option --warn-unused-vars has been removed and is now silently ignored. The option has not worked correctly since CMake 3.3.

Other Changes

  • Building for macOS will now use the latest SDK available on the system, unless the user has explicitly chosen a SDK using CMAKE_OSX_SYSROOT. The deployment target or system macOS version will not affect the choice of SDK.

  • The CMAKE_<LANG>_COMPILER variable may now be used to store “mandatory” compiler flags like the CC and other environment variables.

  • The CMAKE_<LANG>_FLAGS_INIT variable will now be considered during the compiler identification check if other sources like CMAKE_<LANG>_FLAGS or CFLAGS are not set.

  • The find_program() command now requires permission to execute but not to read the file found. See policy CMP0109.

  • An imported target missing its location property fails during generation if the location is used. See policy CMP0111.

  • The following target-based generator expressions that query for directory or file name components no longer add a dependency on the evaluated target. See policy CMP0112.











  • Makefile Generators no longer repeat custom commands from target dependencies. See policy CMP0113.

  • The ExternalProject module handling of step target dependencies has been revised. See policy CMP0114.

  • The OSX_ARCHITECTURES target property is now respected for the ASM language.

  • If CUDA compiler detection fails with user-specified CMAKE_CUDA_ARCHITECTURES or CMAKE_CUDA_HOST_COMPILER, an error is raised.


Changes made since CMake 3.19.0 include the following.


  • CMake 3.19.0 compiles source files with the LANGUAGE property by passing an explicit language flag such as -x c. This is consistent with the property’s documented meaning that the source file is written in the specified language. However, it can break projects that were using the property only to cause the specified language’s compiler to be used. This has been reverted to restore behavior from CMake 3.18 and below.

  • CUDA 11.1 support for Clang.


  • The precompiled macOS binary provided on is now a universal binary with x86_64 and arm64 architectures. It requires macOS 10.10 or newer. The package file naming pattern has been changed from cmake-$ver-Darwin-x86_64 to cmake-$ver-macos-universal.

  • Apple Silicon host architecture selection support was updated. CMake 3.19.0 and 3.19.1 always chose arm64 as the host architecture. CMake 3.19.2 returns to using uname -m as CMake 3.18 and below did. Since this may vary based on CMake’s own architecture and that of the invoking process tree, the CMAKE_APPLE_SILICON_PROCESSOR variable or CMAKE_APPLE_SILICON_PROCESSOR environment variable may be set to specify a host architecture explicitly.

  • The CMAKE_ISPC_HEADER_SUFFIX variable and corresponding ISPC_HEADER_SUFFIX target property were added to control the header suffix used by ISPC compiler generated headers.


  • A precompiled Linux aarch64 binary is now provided on

  • Two precompiled macOS binaries are now provided on

    • The naming pattern cmake-$ver-macos-universal is a universal binary with x86_64 and arm64 architectures. It requires macOS 10.13 or newer.

    • The naming pattern cmake-$ver-macos10.10-universal is a universal binary with x86_64 and arm64 architectures. It requires macOS 10.10 or newer.