This HOWTO document provides instructions, and recommendations, both for first‑time installation, and subsequent maintenance of the MinGW (GCC) compiler suite, and ancillary MinGW applications and/or tools; the recommended method of installation is suitable for all  users, regardless of experience, or level of expertise.

Caution : MinGW may have problems with paths containing spaces, and if not, other programs used with MinGW may often experience problems with such paths. Thus, we strongly recommend  that you do not install MinGW in any location with spaces in the absolute path name ; you should avoid installing into any directory or subdirectory having names like "ProgramFiles" or "MyDocuments", etc.

The preferred installation target directory, its path name having been chosen to comply with the preceding recommendation, is C:\MinGW

The preferred installation method is using the mingw-get “Installation Manager” tool, as described below. While a manual installation is possible, we recommend it only for expert users, unless you have a very old version of MS‑Windows, which is unable to run the GUI variant of mingw‑get. If you really want (or need) to resort to it, instructions for manual installation are provided in this alternative HOWTO document.

After installation, you may need to perform some additional system configuration tasks yourself, to ensure your MinGW applications will run. Most importantly, you may need to set up StartMenu, or Desktop “short‑cuts”, to launch a suitable command line interpreter session, with appropriate environment variable settings, (notably, the PATH setting), for running MinGW applications; further details may be found in the post‑installation section, below.

Ultimately, having completed installation and configuration, you will wish to perform occasional maintenance tasks, perhaps to install additional packages, and certainly to install software updates, and so keep your installation up‑to‑date; suitable maintenance procedures are discussed in the final section of this document.

Setting Up the MinGW Installation Manager for First‑Time Use

The first step, in the recommended procedure for creating a new MinGW installation, is to install the mingw-get installer itself; this can be most readily accomplished by downloading, and subsequently running, the GUI mingw‑get‑setup.exe tool.

If you have previously installed mingw‑get, and your objective is to upgrade, or to extend, its associated (existing) MinGW installation, then you should not run mingw‑get‑setup.exe again; you should simply run mingw‑get.exe, and proceed directly to the next installation phase.

If do wish to run mingw‑get‑setup.exe, and you already have a local copy, we strongly recommend that you check its publication date, to ensure that it is no older than the current release, as identified at; you should always run the most recent release of mingw‑get‑setup.exe, so please download a replacement copy, if yours is out of date.

When you do choose to run mingw‑get‑setup.exe, you should follow this sequence of steps:–

  1. Installer Setup — Opening Dialogue
    Depending on your MS‑Windows version, and its system security policy configuration, you may be able to invoke mingw‑get‑setup.exe directly from the download link specified above; alternatively, you may need to save a local copy, locate it in the file‑system explorer, and double‑click to invoke it. In either case, and again depending on Windows version, and security policy configuration, you may need to authorize execution of mingw‑get‑setup.exe, and the changes it will make to your system, after which you should see a dialogue similar to that depicted to the right.

    When you see this dialogue, we advise you to acquaint yourself with the content of the warranty disclaimer, and additional “blurb”, which appears below the copyright notice; you may also wish to review the licensing terms, which will be displayed in a web browser window, if you click the ViewLicence button.

    When you are ready to proceed, click the Install button to move on to the next step; alternatively, you may click the Cancel button to abandon the installation process.

  2. Installer Setup — Preferences Dialogue
    On progressing from the opening dialogue, by clicking on the Install button as stipulated in the preceding step, you will be presented with a new dialogue, as depicted to the right. Here, you have the opportunity to select from a set of optional configuration attributes for your mingw‑get installation, and for the associated MinGW installation, which you will use it to manage.

    You may observe, when this dialogue is opened, that the installation directory is specified, by default, to be C:\MinGW. We strongly recommend that you leave this at its default setting, except in the particular cases where:–

    • Your system policy forbids installation into a directory at this level within the file‑system hierarchy, and you are unable to obtain authorization for an exception to such a policy.
    • You require an alternative installation root directory, for the purpose of creating side‑by‑side MinGW sandbox installations.

    If you do choose to change the installation directory, you may click the Change button to open a standard file‑system navigation dialogue, whence you may select, or create, an alternative directory; do please heed the warning about avoiding any directory name, which introduces white‑space into its absolute path name.

    Other installation options, which you may select via this dialogue, include:–

    • Installation of the mingw‑get GUI application, in addition to the CLI version, (which is always installed).
    • Installation of Windows “shortcuts”, either on the desktop, or in the Windows Start Menu, (or both), for either the current user only (strongly recommended), or for all users; (if installed, these will launch the mingw‑get GUI client, and thus are effective only if that is installed).

    Once you have specified your choice of installation root directory, and completed your selection of installation options, you may click the Continue button, to proceed to the next step — the actual installation of mingw‑get.

  3. Installer Setup — Download Dialogue
    Your computer must remain actively connected to the internet, throughout this step, which should proceed without user intervention.

    While the process proceeds, you should observe a dialogue similar to that depicted to the right; the data displayed will be dynamically updated, as the constituent packages of mingw‑get are downloaded from the on‑line file store, and installed locally, into your designated installation directory tree.

    You may observe that, while download and installation are in progress, the Continue and Quit buttons are disabled; they will be enabled, only when the process completes.

    If errors occur, during the download and installation process, only the Quit button will be enabled, allowing you to terminate mingw‑get‑setup.exe; please consult the FAQ, or seek advice via the mailing list, for assistance to troubleshoot, and resolve the errors, before running mingw‑get‑setup.exe again.

    When the download and installation of mingw‑get completes successfully, both the Continue, and the Quit buttons will be enabled. At this point, you may choose to:–

    • Click the Continue button, to terminate mingw‑get‑setup.exe, and immediately start mingw‑get in GUI mode; (note that the mingw‑get GUI is available at this point, at least temporarily, even if you chose not to install it permanently).
    • Click the Quit button, to terminate mingw‑get‑setup.exe without starting mingw‑get; (you may resume installation of MinGW later, by running stand‑alone mingw‑get, either in CLI mode, or — if you chose to install it as a permanent capability — in GUI mode).

    Regardless of which of the preceding options you choose, mingw‑get‑setup.exe has completed its task; when you proceed to the next stage of the installation process, you will be running mingw‑get, notmingw‑get‑setup.exe.

Using the MinGW Installation Manager to Install Packages

Once you have completed the installation of mingw‑get, (which is also known, particularly in its GUI guise, as the “MinGW Installation Manager”), you may use it to proceed with the installation of your choice of packages, to complete (or subsequently extend) your MinGW installation. Assuming that you have started the GUI variant of mingw‑get, either (having chosen to install it at step ii of the set up procedure) as a free‑standing application, or by continuation from within mingw‑get‑setup.exe, you will be presented with a three‑paned window display, whence you may proceed as follows:–

  1. Installer — Basic Package View
    When mingw‑get is invoked as a continuation of mingw‑get‑setup.exe, the initial three‑paned view will appear as on the right; (alternatively, this view may be accessed by selecting the BasicSetup option in the left‑hand window pane, at any time, regardless of whether mingw‑get is running as a continuation of mingw‑get‑setup.exe, or as a free‑standing application).

    Within this view, you will see a list (in the upper right‑hand pane) of those packages which are likely to be of most interest to first‑time MinGW users; you may select any one of these packages, to see related package information on the tabs of the lower right‑hand pane, and, by clicking on the small square button, to the left of any selected package entry, you may choose (from its context menu) to mark one (or more) packages, which you would like to install ... for first‑time users, we recommend that you elect to install, at least, the mingw32‑base‑bin package, (which comprises the C compiler and essential ancillary tools); if you require a C++ compiler, in addition to the C compiler, you should also elect to install the mingw32‑g++‑bin package.

  2. Installer — All Package View
    Conversely, when the GUI variant of mingw‑get is invoked as a free‑standing application, the initial three‑paned view will appear as on the right; (alternatively, this view may be accessed by selecting the AllPackages option, in the left‑hand pane, regardless of how mingw‑get has been started).

    You may observe that, in comparison with the BasicSetup view, this view offers a selection of many more packages, from which you may choose those which you would like to install ... so many more that, to see the entire selection, you will need to scroll the list in the upper right window pane; if you find this extensive package list to be too confusing, you may refine the visible selection by clicking on any of the subsidiary package categories, as shown in the package category tree view, in the left hand pane.

    As with selection of packages from the BasicSetup view, you may elect to install any packages which are visible in the AllPackages view, making your selection by clicking on the small square button, to the left of the name of each chosen package, in turn, and choosing the MarkforInstallation option from the associated context menu.

  3. Installer — Apply Changes View
    Once you have made a selection of packages to be installed, from either the BasicSetup view, or the AllPackages view, as described above, you must commit this selection, to complete your installation, by proceeding as follows:–
    1. Open the Installation menu, (on the menu bar), and select the ApplyChanges option; (this will open a dialogue, similar to that shown to the right).
    2. Review the schedule of pending installation actions, (noting that you may need to scroll the lists of packages for which deletion, upgrade, or installation actions have been scheduled, for any of these lists which includes more than six package entries), then choose one  of:–
      • Click the Apply button, to complete all scheduled actions, update indicated installation status, clear the schedule of pending actions, and return to the selection phase of installation, to allow initiation of a further package selection.
      • Click the Defer button, if you would like to modify your package selection; this will take you back to the package selection phase of installation, to allow you to make your desired changes.
      • Click the Discard button, if you do not  wish to commit any  of the scheduled changes; this will clear your active package selection, then return you to the package selection phase of installation, whence you may start the installation process again.
  4. After you have completed your selection of packages, and you have committed all of the changes which are needed to install them, you may quit from mingw‑get, either by selecting the Quit option from the Installation menu, or by simply closing the “MinGW Installation Manager” GUI window. Having done so, and in particular, if you have just completed a first‑time installation, you may need to perform some post‑installation system configuration, as described in the following section, to make your installation work.

    At this point, if you plan to use the MSYS command line interpreter system, your MinGW installation should be ready to use; however, if you choose to use MinGW from Microsoft’s “command prompt” console subsystem, then you may need to complete the MinGW post‑installation steps as described below.

Post‑Installation Requirements for Use of the MinGW Compiler Suite

As noted above, the process of installation alone is likely to be insufficient to acquire a working MinGW system: some additional one‑time system configuration is usually required.

Although some users may choose to use an integrated development environment (IDE), it is important to understand that, fundamentally, MinGW applications are intended for deployment using a command line interface (CLI); the scope of the necessary system configuration is dependent on your  choice of infrastructure, for provision of a suitable CLI, or IDE. Some choices, which you may wish to consider, include:–

  1. Run the MinGW tools directly,  using Microsoft’s cmd.exe interpreter, within the MS‑Windows default CommandPrompt console host. If you choose this option, (which may not  be the most appropriate choice), you will, at least, need to ensure that the MinGW tools can be found in the cmd.exe executable search PATH, as configured in the process environment. The default system configuration will not normally support this capability, without making an appropriate PATH adjustment; to check if any such adjustment is necessary:–
    • Open a CommandPrompt console, and run the command:
      C:\Users\me> gcc --version
      If this results in output similar to:
      C:\Users\me> gcc --version
      gcc (MinGW GCC Build-2) 9.2.0
      Copyright (C) 2019 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
      This is free software; see the source for copying conditions.  There is NO
      then it appears that your process PATH setting is already  suitably configured, and no further  configuration is needed; however, if the output resembles:
      C:\Users\me> gcc --version
      'gcc' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
      operable program or batch file.
      this, then the PATH setting in the process environment is not  suitably configured; you should  modify the environment configuration, as advised below.

    If the preceding check indicates that the PATH configuration needs to be adjusted, then you should proceed as follows:–

    • From the system ControlPanel, open the System tab, access the Advancedsystemsettings dialogue, and click the EnvironmentVariables button.
    • In the dialogue, which should now have become active, observe that there are two categories of environment variables, viz. a category for user‑specific variables, and another for system (global) variables. Please note that any environment variables, which you either add, or modify, in either of these categories, will be recorded in the system registry, and will become visible to all  processes which are subsequently invoked on the system, (although visibility of those in the user‑specific category will be restricted to processes owned by the currently‑logged‑in user), and that changes to the PATH variable have potential to introduce system security vulnerabilities; thus, you should exercise caution, when making such changes, and, unless it is your intention that your changes should affect all users  of the system, you should prefer to make the change only  in the user‑specific category, in order to limit the potential of any vulnerability.
    • Note that mingw‑get will have installed MinGW applications into C:\MinGW\bin, (with substitution of any alternative installation‑root path name, which you may have chosen at installation time, for the C:\MinGW prefix); it is this equivalent for the C:\MinGW\bin path name, (with prefix substitution as may be appropriate), which you must now incorporate into the PATH variable, to be passed in the environment, to your CommandPrompt process.
    • Within the environment variables category in which you have decided to adjust the PATH setting, identify the entry (matching the variable name case‑insensitively ), if it exists, for the PATH variable definition.
    • If the PATH variable definition does  already exist, select it, and click the Edit button; move the input cursor to the end  of the Value field, and append a semicolon (“;”), followed by your equivalent for C:\MinGW\bin, with prefix substitution as required.
    • Conversely, if no such PATH variable exists, click the New button, and create a new entry for it; assign your equivalent for C:\MinGW\bin, with prefix substitution as required, as its value.
    • Click the OK button on each nested dialogue box, as you walk focus back to the top level of the ControlPanel, so saving your environment variable changes, then dismiss the ControlPanel itself.

    After you have completed the above system configuration steps, you may open a standard MS‑Windows CommandPrompt console session, and you should  find that your MinGW tools will work, without further ado.

  2. As a (possibly better) alternative to option 1, you may still choose to run the MinGW tools directly from Microsoft’s cmd.exe command line interpreter, but with this interpreter hosted within a console session which has been started from a customized “shortcut”, which itself addresses the issue of adding the equivalent of C:\MinGW\bin to the PATH environment variable setting; this ensures that the modified PATH setting is visible only  to processes which are invoked from within the hosting console session itself, and thus significantly  reduces any associated potential for exposure to system security vulnerability exploits.

    To implement this PATH configuration technique:–

    • Create a new “shortcut”, ideally within the MinGW subdirectory (folder) of your user‑specific StartMenu, (or, if preferred, in the MinGW subdirectory of the AllUsers StartMenu, noting that you may need to create the respective "StartMenu\MinGW" subdirectory, if it does not already exist); you should name this new “shortcut” as "MinGWPrompt.lnk", "MinGWConsole.lnk", or any similar alternative name of your own choice.
    • Set the Target of your new “shortcut” to:
      %comspec% /k path %PATH%;C:\MinGW\bin
      (with substitution for C:\MinGW, as appropriate, if you chose an alternative prefix at installation time). Alternatively, create a new MS‑Windows batch file, (called C:\MinGW\mingw.bat, for example), within which the:
      path %PATH%;C:\MinGW\bin
      PATH augmentation command is executed, and set the “shortcut” Target to:
      %comspec% /k C:\MinGW\mingw.bat
      (This latter alternative offers greater flexibility than the former, insofar as the batch file may be modified to accommodate configuration options beyond the minimally required PATH augmentation).
    • Access the properties of the new “shortcut”, and set the start‑up directory path name, within the Startin field, to select any appropriate directory of your choice; if you wish to reproduce the behaviour of the standard MS‑Windows CommandPrompt, the appropriate assignment is:
      At the same time, you may wish to take the opportunity to tweak “shortcut” properties on the Font, Layout, and Colors tabs.
  3. If you chose to install MSYS, and you would like to use it as your working MinGW development environment, in preference to the rather more limited capabilities of the MS‑Windows CommandPrompt, then some associated configuration checks are recommended:–
    • Firstly, you may need to create a “shortcut”, ideally within your user‑specific StartMenu, or within the AllUsers, StartMenu; the recommended name for this “shortcut” is MinGWShell, and its Target should be set to invoke:
      (with the path name adjusted, as may be required, to represent the actual installed location of msys.bat).
    • Secondly, your MSYS installation must  be given an appropriate hint to the base location of your MinGW tools. This is established by means of a “mount point” specification, within the C:\MinGW\MSYS\1.0\etc\fstab file, (again, with the C:\MinGW\MSYS\1.0 path name adjusted to match the prefix, in the actual location of the msys.bat file); if this file does not exist, you should create it, but in any case, you must  ensure that it includes (at least) a line of the form:
      C:/MinGW	/mingw
      (again noting that the C:/MinGW prefix should be adjusted to match any alternative, which you may have chosen at installation time, and furthermore, “/” characters should be used as directory name separators, in preference to “\” characters, within the etc/fstab file).

    You may be wondering why these post‑installation instructions, for MSYS, do not refer to PATH configuration. In practice, no specific configuration is necessary, because, provided the /mingw “mount‑point” is correctly specified in the fstab file, MSYS will correctly deduce the required PATH setting, when any shell session is started. However, it is  important to note that it is imperative  that no white‑space  is present, within the absolute path name specification for the “mount‑point”; thus, since this must  be specified as an absolute  path name, if, contrary to offered advice, you have chosen an installation directory with white‑space in its absolute path name, you will need to determine the short (8.3) form of your installation path name, and use that in the “mount‑point” specification.

  4. Regardless of whether you choose to run the MinGW tools within an MSYS session, or within a cmd.exe session, by default, either of these will run within an MS‑Windows console host container. If you prefer, you may choose an alternative container, such as ConEmu, Console2, or ConsoleZ. While it should be feasible to use any of these, each will have its own configuration considerations, which are beyond the scope of this HOWTO document.
  5. Alternatively, you may decide that you would prefer to deploy MinGW within an IDE. Please be aware that MinGW.OSDN offers no formal support for any such deployment; however, users have reported success with Code::Blocks, and with Eclipse, (but be advised that these third‑party websites may may exhibit out‑of‑date references to MinGW download sites; the most up‑to‑date downloads of MinGW are always  available from As with option 4, each of these IDEs will be subject to its own configuration considerations, which, once again, are beyond the scope of this HOWTO document.

Maintaining Currency of your MinGW Installation

After you have installed your initial choice of MinGW, and/or MSYS packages, you will eventually discover that you need to perform some degree of maintenance of your installation; this need may be prompted by:–

Regardless of your motivation for performing maintenance on your MinGW installation, it is recommended that you use mingw‑get, either in its GUI, or in its CLI mode of operation, to achieve your objective.

Whether your intention is to install a new package, or simply to upgrade an installed package to a newer release, you should ensure that the package information records, within your locally installed copy of mingw‑get, are kept up‑to‑date with respect to the state of the online package repositories. To achieve this, you are advised to periodically, (say, if it has been more than a week since your update), request an update of your local copy of the package catalogue, before  you embark on any package installation, or package upgrade activity. You may accomplish this, either:–

After updating your package catalogue, to synchronize with the online package repository state, you may install further packages:–

When a new version of any package, which you have already installed, is released, you will want to upgrade your installation, to incorporate the package changes. Once again, you can perform the upgrade from either the mingw‑get GUI, or the MinGW CLI; the simplest procedure, which will upgrade all  installed packages, for which new releases are available, en masse,  is–

Alternatively, you may choose to perform a selective  upgrade of individual packages:–