Easy start

Before starting with CLion, check this Quick Start Guide.

Configure toolchains

Configure and use different toolchains for different projects in CLion, or even inside one project for different configurations.


You can change CMake executable, Make, C and C++ compilers and debugger. Note that you can use either bundled or custom version of CMake and debugger executable.

On Linux and macOS you can use GCC or Clang as a compiler, on Windows – you can select between MinGW, MinGW-w64, Cygwin and MSVC (see below).

Windows Subsystem for Linux


On Windows use WSL toolchain. Compile, run, and debug Linux binaries while working on Windows. Test targets under Valgrind Memcheck to detect possible errors and leaks.

Learn more

Microsoft Visual C++ compiler


CLion supports and auto-detects Microsoft Visual C++ compiler from Visual Studio 2013, 2015 and 2017. MSVC is used along with the NMake generator in CLion.

Debugger is not supported in this case.

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Project models

All work in CLion is done within the context of a project, which serve as the basis for coding assistance, bulk refactoring, coding style consistency, and other smart features.

Project models

CLion supports:

For all three CLion provides full code insight, though with a compilation database you currently cannot build or run the project (as the model simply lacks the information this requires).

Start a new project


To start a completely new project, use File | New Project... to generate the sample project. For C and C++ CLion will create a CMake project and pre-fill root CMakeLists.txt with the necessary information.

Open an existing project

To start with an existing project in CLion, select one of the following options:

  • For CMake project: locate the root CMakeLists.txt file, CMakeCache.txt file or CMake generation directory (the last two options work only for Makefiles generator).
  • For Gradle C++: open the build.gradle file from the project sources.
  • For compilation database: use the compile_commands.json file (see this list of ways to get a compilation database for your project).
  • For other project models: open a single file or a folder with C/C++ sources in CLion, mind the code insight will be limited in this case.
  • Alternatively, import a C/C++ project from an existing source, and CLion will create CMakeLists.txt for you.

Add new files

New files can be added to the project by using the New menu. In the Project tree view, press Alt+Insert or select New in the context menu.

  • Click C++ Class to generate a .cpp file source file with a header and a class stub:
  • Click C/C++ Source File to generate a simple source file, optionally with an associated header.
  • Click C/C++ Header File to generate a simple header file.