Add a library to the project using the specified source files.

Normal Libraries

add_library(<name> [STATIC | SHARED | MODULE]
            [source1] [source2 ...])

Adds a library target called <name> to be built from the source files listed in the command invocation. (The source files can be omitted here if they are added later using target_sources().) The <name> corresponds to the logical target name and must be globally unique within a project. The actual file name of the library built is constructed based on conventions of the native platform (such as lib<name>.a or <name>.lib).

STATIC, SHARED, or MODULE may be given to specify the type of library to be created. STATIC libraries are archives of object files for use when linking other targets. SHARED libraries are linked dynamically and loaded at runtime. MODULE libraries are plugins that are not linked into other targets but may be loaded dynamically at runtime using dlopen-like functionality. If no type is given explicitly the type is STATIC or SHARED based on whether the current value of the variable BUILD_SHARED_LIBS is ON. For SHARED and MODULE libraries the POSITION_INDEPENDENT_CODE target property is set to ON automatically. A SHARED or STATIC library may be marked with the FRAMEWORK target property to create an macOS Framework.

If a library does not export any symbols, it must not be declared as a SHARED library. For example, a Windows resource DLL or a managed C++/CLI DLL that exports no unmanaged symbols would need to be a MODULE library. This is because CMake expects a SHARED library to always have an associated import library on Windows.

By default the library 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 ARCHIVE_OUTPUT_DIRECTORY, LIBRARY_OUTPUT_DIRECTORY, and RUNTIME_OUTPUT_DIRECTORY target properties to change this location. See documentation of the OUTPUT_NAME target property to change the <name> part of the final file name.

If EXCLUDE_FROM_ALL is given the corresponding property will be set on the created target. See documentation of the EXCLUDE_FROM_ALL target property for details.

Source arguments to add_library 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.

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 Libraries


An IMPORTED library target references a library file located outside the project. No rules are generated to build it, and the IMPORTED target property is True. The target name has scope in the directory in which it is created and below, but the GLOBAL option extends visibility. It may be referenced like any target built within the project. IMPORTED libraries are useful for convenient reference from commands like target_link_libraries(). Details about the imported library are specified by setting properties whose names begin in IMPORTED_ and INTERFACE_.

The most important properties are:

See documentation of the IMPORTED_* and INTERFACE_* properties for more information.

An UNKNOWN library type is typically only used in the implementation of Find Modules. It allows the path to an imported library (often found using the find_library() command) to be used without having to know what type of library it is. This is especially useful on Windows where a static library and a DLL’s import library both have the same file extension.

Object Libraries

add_library(<name> OBJECT <src>...)

Creates an Object Library. An object library compiles source files but does not archive or link their object files into a library. Instead other targets created by add_library() or add_executable() may reference the objects using an expression of the form $<TARGET_OBJECTS:objlib> as a source, where objlib is the object library name. For example:

add_library(... $<TARGET_OBJECTS:objlib> ...)
add_executable(... $<TARGET_OBJECTS:objlib> ...)

will include objlib’s object files in a library and an executable along with those compiled from their own sources. Object libraries may contain only sources that compile, header files, and other files that would not affect linking of a normal library (e.g. .txt). They may contain custom commands generating such sources, but not PRE_BUILD, PRE_LINK, or POST_BUILD commands. Some native build systems (such as Xcode) may not like targets that have only object files, so consider adding at least one real source file to any target that references $<TARGET_OBJECTS:objlib>.

Alias Libraries

add_library(<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 a non-GLOBAL Imported Target or an ALIAS. ALIAS targets can be used as linkable targets and as targets to read properties from. 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.

Interface Libraries

add_library(<name> INTERFACE [IMPORTED [GLOBAL]])

Creates an Interface Library. An INTERFACE library target does not directly create build output, though it may have properties set on it and it may be installed, exported and imported. Typically the INTERFACE_* properties are populated on the interface target using the commands:

and then it is used as an argument to target_link_libraries() like any other target.

An INTERFACE Imported Target may also be created with this signature. An IMPORTED library target references a library defined outside the project. The target name has scope in the directory in which it is created and below, but the GLOBAL option extends visibility. It may be referenced like any target built within the project. IMPORTED libraries are useful for convenient reference from commands like target_link_libraries().