You can load Makefile projects in CLion and benefit from all the smart features the IDE provides.
Note that Makefiles support in CLion is in its early stages. Use the tickets linked to CPP-494 to leave your feedback and vote for the desired features. The list of the open-source projects that Makefile support has been tested on is available here.
Open a Makefile project
Selectfrom the main menu.
Point CLion to a folder that contains the top-level Makefile or to that file directly:
In the dialog that opens, click Open as Project.
You will be prompted to clean the project:
Cleaning is required for the project load as the Make build is incremental and only the updated files are compiled. When run on an uncleaned project, reload will miss all the unchanged files and might perform incorrectly.
Clear the Clean project checkbox if you prefer to load without cleaning. You will be able to clean and reload your project later (for example, after performing the required bootstrapping).
At this point, CLion starts loading the project, displaying the progress and status in the Build tool window:
Warning messages may appear during the process, but if loading finishes with a green checkmark next to the project name, this indicates a successful load. Take a look at the Troubleshooting section if your project fails to load correctly.
Load a Makefile for an opened project
You can also open a project as a folder and load the Makefile later. This is helpful, for example, if your project requires some preconfigure step or launching a script to prepare the final Makefile, so you don't have it when opening your project in CLion.
To load the Makefile when ready, open it in the editor and click the Load Makefile project link in the notification:
Alternatively, use the Load Makefile Project action from the file's context menu in the project tree.
By default, CLion doesn't update or reload your project automatically except for the cases of external events like VCS update. You can change this behavior in the Build Tools settings.
Select one of the auto-reload options:
Any changes - project reload will be triggered on any change in Makefiles.
External changes (default) - your project will be reloaded only upon external events like VCS update. In case of other changes (for example, when you add a new file), you will get a notification on the Makefile:
Apart from the automatic options, you can also reload your project manually:
Callor from on the main menu.
Alternatively, click or in the Build tool window:
Adjust the project settings
Use thedialog to control your project settings.
Here you can select the toolchain to be used for loading your Makefile project.
If the toolchain you selected includes non-default compilers (configured explicitly in the C Compiler and C++ Compiler fields), they will be passed to
In this field, you can provide additional make options for the project build. These options don't affect the project reload.
In this field, you can adjust preconfiguration parameters. See Pre-configuration (GNU Autoconf).
These arguments are used by CLion when calling the
makecommand on the step of extracting project information, cleaning the project, or searching for build targets.
Build target and Clean target
These targets are used along the
makecommand to extract the project information. If you leave the Build target field empty, CLion will take the first target specified in the project’s top Makefile.
Also, the targets specified here are used when you call Build Project or Rebuild Project from the Build actions menu.
You can quickly access the Makefile settings dialog from the Build tool window. Select Makefile Settings from the context menu or click :
More settings for Makefile projects are available in:
Makefile Application configurations
CLion automatically creates a Makefile Application configuration for each target from the top-level Makefile. Note that targets from sub-directory Makefiles are disregarded.
When creating configurations, CLion filters out the following targets:
Targets that correspond to object (.o) files.
Targets that end with unknown file extensions (for example, .d).
You can customize the automatically created configurations or create new ones in thedialog (see below).
Create a Makefile Application configuration
To add a configuration, go to Makefile Application from the list of templates:, click , and select
In the Target field, you can choose one of the detected targets:
Another option is to set a custom build target with type Make. Click next to the Target field, add () a new Make target, and fill in the parameters:
In the Executable field, provide the full path to the binary.
To run/debug remotely, provide the path to the binary on your remote machine. The remote path needs to be set manually (if you click , CLion will suggest local paths).
Other settings of the Makefile Application template are described on the reference page.
Makefile Target configurations
You can use the gutter menu to quickly call
make for a particular target:
Alternatively, you can run targets from the Make tool window ( ). Double-click a target or select it and then click :
Create a Makefile Target configuration
Go to Makefile Target from the list of templates:, click , and select
In the settings, you can set up several targets to run, provide additional arguments, and tune other parameters if required. See the reference page for details.
Sync the settings
When working with WSL, make sure to sync the per-project toolchain settings and the global Make settings:
Click the selector next to Path to Make executable and set the path to WSL's
Non-root WSL user
If you are working under a non-root WSL user, this user should be set as default in order to own the
make process and all the files it may create.
Create a /etc/wsl.conf file inside your WSL guest and add the following lines:[user] default=username
usernameis the WSL guest username (which may be different from the Windows username).
Find out more in WSL documentation.
Restart the WSL machine.
Make sure that both Makefile and Makefile Language plugins are enabled. Check the Installed tab in .
If your project fails to load correctly, try the following tips:
Check Makefile settings:
Make sure to select a proper toolchain. Your project should build successfully in the selected environment.
Arguments and Build target may need adjustments for the case of your project.
Callfrom the main menu or click in the Build tool window.
If your project's Makefiles were generated by Premake, try removing the
--no-print-directoryarguments from the root Makefile.
In case none of the above helps, try cleaning the project cache from /makefiles in the system directory (for example, ~/Library/Caches/JetBrains/CLion2020.2/makefiles/postgrtipes.dc29ef09), then reload the project.