c_cpp_properties.json reference

This article explains the scheme for the c_cpp_properties.json settings file.

For more information about changing these settings, see Customizing Default Settings and Configure IntelliSense for cross-compiling.


  "env": {
    "myDefaultIncludePath": ["${workspaceFolder}", "${workspaceFolder}/include"],
    "myCompilerPath": "/usr/local/bin/gcc-7"
  "configurations": [
      "name": "Mac",
      "intelliSenseMode": "clang-x64",
      "includePath": ["${myDefaultIncludePath}", "/another/path"],
      "macFrameworkPath": ["/System/Library/Frameworks"],
      "defines": ["FOO", "BAR=100"],
      "forcedInclude": ["${workspaceFolder}/include/config.h"],
      "compilerPath": "/usr/bin/clang",
      "cStandard": "c11",
      "cppStandard": "c++17",
      "compileCommands": "/path/to/compile_commands.json",
      "browse": {
        "path": ["${workspaceFolder}"],
        "limitSymbolsToIncludedHeaders": true,
        "databaseFilename": ""
  "version": 4

Top-level properties

  • env An array of user-defined variables that will be available for substitution in the configurations via the standard environment variable syntax: ${<var>} or ${env:<var>}. Strings and arrays of strings are accepted.

  • configurations An array of configuration objects that provide the IntelliSense engine with information about your project and your preferences. By default, the extension creates a configuration for you based on your operating system. You may also add additional configurations.

  • version We recommend you don't edit this field. It tracks the current version of the c_cpp_properties.json file so that the extension knows what properties and settings should be present and how to upgrade this file to the latest version.

Configuration properties

  • name A friendly name that identifies a configuration. Linux, Mac, and Win32 are special identifiers for configurations that will be autoselected on those platforms. The status bar in VS Code will show you which configuration is active. You can also click on the label in the status bar to change the active configuration.

  • compilerPath (optional) The full path to the compiler you use to build your project, for example /usr/bin/gcc, to enable more accurate IntelliSense. The extension will query the compiler to determine the system include paths and default defines to use for IntelliSense.

    Putting "compilerPath": "" (empty string) will skip querying a compiler. This is useful if a specified compiler doesn't support the arguments that are used for the query, as the extension will default back to any compiler it can find (like Visual C). Leaving out the compilerPath property does not skip the query.

  • compilerArgs (optional) Compiler arguments to modify the includes or defines used, for example -nostdinc++, -m32, etc.

  • intelliSenseMode The IntelliSense mode to use that maps to an architecture-specific variant of MSVC, gcc, or Clang. If not set or if set to ${default}, the extension will choose the default for that platform.

    Platform defaults:

    • Windows: msvc-x64
    • Linux: gcc-x64
    • macOS: clang-x64
  • includePath An include path is a folder that contains header files (such as #include "myHeaderFile.h") that are included in a source file. Specify a list of paths for the IntelliSense engine to use while searching for included header files. Searching on these paths is not recursive. Specify ** to indicate recursive search. For example, ${workspaceFolder}/** will search through all subdirectories while ${workspaceFolder} will not. If on Windows with Visual Studio installed, or if a compiler is specified in the compilerPath setting, it is not necessary to list the system include paths in this list.

  • defines A list of preprocessor definitions for the IntelliSense engine to use while parsing files. Optionally, use = to set a value, for example VERSION=1.

  • cStandard The version of the C language standard to use for IntelliSense.

  • cppStandard The version of the C++ language standard to use for IntelliSense.

  • configurationProvider The ID of a VS Code extension that can provide IntelliSense configuration information for source files. For example, use the VS Code extension ID ms-vscode.cmake-tools to provide configuration information from the CMake Tools extension. If you have specified a configurationProvider, the configurations that provides will take precedence over your other settings in c_cpp_properties.json.

    A configurationProvider candidate extension must implement vscode-cpptools-api.

  • windowsSdkVersion The versions of the Windows SDK include path to use on Windows, for example 10.0.17134.0.

  • macFrameworkPath A list of paths for the IntelliSense engine to use while searching for included headers from Mac frameworks. Only supported on configurations for macOS.

  • forcedInclude (optional) A list of files that should be included before any other characters in the source file are processed. Files are included in the order listed.

  • compileCommands (optional) The full path to the compile_commands.json file for the workspace. The include paths and defines discovered in this file will be used instead of the values set for includePath and defines settings. If the compile commands database does not contain an entry for the translation unit that corresponds to the file you opened in the editor, then a warning message will appear and the extension will use the includePath and defines settings instead.

    For more information about the file format, see the Clang documentation. Some build systems, such as CMake, simplify generating this file.

  • browse The set of properties used when "C_Cpp.intelliSenseEngine" is set to "Tag Parser" (also referred to as "fuzzy" IntelliSense, or the "browse" engine). These properties are also used by the Go to Definition/Declaration features, or when the "default" IntelliSense engine is unable to resolve the #includes in your source files.

Browse properties

  • path A list of paths for the Tag Parser to search for headers included by your source files. If omitted, includePath will be used as the path. Searching on these paths is recursive by default. Specify * to indicate non-recursive search. For example: ${workspaceFolder} will search through all subdirectories while ${workspaceFolder}/* will not.

  • limitSymbolsToIncludedHeaders When true, the Tag Parser will only parse code files that have been directly or indirectly included by a source file in ${workspaceFolder}. When false, the Tag Parser will parse all code files found in the paths specified in the browse.path list.

  • databaseFilename The path to the generated symbol database. This property instructs the extension to save the Tag Parser's symbol database somewhere other than the workspace's default storage location. If a relative path is specified, it will be made relative to the workspace's default storage location, not the workspace folder itself. The ${workspaceFolder} variable can be used to specify a path relative to the workspace folder (for example ${workspaceFolder}/.vscode/browse.vc.db)

Supported variables

You can allow tasks.json or launch.json to query the current active configuration from c_cpp_properties.json. To do this, use the variable ${command:cpptools.activeConfigName} as an argument in a tasks.json or launch.json script.