Download for Windows

Note: These instructions are intended for developers wanting to create Windows applications based on GTK, not for end-users. On Windows, GTK applications are typically bundled with GTK already, so end-users do not need to worry about how to install GTK itself.

There are two methods to install GTK on Windows development machines. One method is based on the packages available from the Microsoft vcpkg project, which are built using Visual Studio, and therefore work well if you intend to develop using that platform. The other method is based on the packages provided by MSYS2, which provides a UNIX-like environment for Windows. Both of these repositories also provide packages for a large number of other useful open source libraries.

If you really want to build GTK from the pristine sources yourself, you can use the project files for Microsoft Visual Studio provided by the GTK releases. Learn more on how to build the GTK stack using Microsoft Visual Studio and read these other tips on how to build GTK with MSVC on Windows. In almost all cases, using the packages from vcpkg or MSYS2 is much simpler though.

These instructions all assume you are using Windows 7 or later. For older versions of Windows, you will need to do a custom build of older versions of GLib and GTK.

Using GTK from vcpkg packages

WARNING: The vcpkg packaging is not maintained by the GTK team, and it uses a different build system than the one used by GTK. If something breaks when building GTK or its dependencies using vcpkg, make sure to open an issue in the vcpkg issue tracker, instead of the GTK one.


The GTK library, as well as all pre-requisites and many language bindings (e.g. the C++ bindings gtkmm) are packaged by the Microsoft vcpkg project for use with Visual Studio. This provides a very simple way to setup a development environment to create GTK apps. If you prefer a more UNIX-like experience, building from the command line instead of using Visual Studio, you may want to consider installing GTK from MSYS2 instead.

In order to use vcpkg packages, you first need to clone the vcpkg repository,
git clone
cd vcpkg
You can then install the GTK packages with
vcpkg install gtk:x64-windows

The part behind the colon ':' specifies the target. After this step, any project created in Visual Studio will now automatically see the GTK libraries.

If you build from the command line using CMake, you need to tell CMake where to find the libraries. This is done by adding
-DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=[vcpkg root]\scripts\buildsystems\vcpkg.cmake
to the CMake options, where vcpkg root is the location where you cloned the vcpkg repository.

Building and distributing your application

Once you install GTK as above, you should have little problem compiling a GTK app. In order to run it successfully, you will also need a GTK theme. There is some old builtin support for a Windows theme in GTK, but that makes your app look like a Windows 7 app. It is better to get a Windows 10 theme, for instance the Windows 10 Transformation Pack.

Copy the gtk-3.20 folder of that repository to a folder share/themes/Windows10/gtk-3.0/ in your installation folder. You also need to copy the icons from the Adwaita theme, which you can get from Linux box, where they are stored in /usr/share/icons/Adwaita/; copy this entire folder to a share/icons folder in your installation folder. Ditto for the hicolor icons. To make GTK pick up this theme, put a file settings.ini in etc/gtk-3.0 in your installation folder. This should contain
gtk-font-name=Segoe UI 9

And to top it all off, find the gschemas.compiled file in /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas/ and copy that to share/glib-2.0/schemas.

You then zip up your installation folder, or use an installer generator to do that for you, and distribute the result.

Using GTK from MSYS2 packages


The MSYS2 project provides a UNIX-like development environment for Windows. It provides packages for many software applications and libraries, including the GTK stack. If you prefer developing using Visual Studio, you may be better off installing GTK from vcpkg instead.

In MSYS2 packages are installed using the pacman package manager.

Note: in the following steps, we will assume you're using a 64-bit Windows. Therefore, the package names include the x86_64 architecture identifier. If you're using a 32-bit Windows, please adapt the instructions below using the i686 architecture identifier.

Step 1: Install MSYS2

Download the MSYS2 installer that matches your platform and follow the installation instructions.

Step 2: Install GTK3 and its dependencies

Open a MSYS2 shell, and run:
pacman -S mingw-w64-x86_64-gtk3

Step 3 (recommended): Install GTK core applications

Glade is a GUI designer for GTK. It lets you design your GUI and export it in XML format. You can then import your GUI from your code using the GtkBuilder API. Read the GtkBuilder section in the GTK manual for more information.

To install Glade:
pacman -S mingw-w64-x86_64-glade

Devhelp is a help browser. It lets you easily navigate offline in the GTK, glib and gobject API help relative to the version of these libraries installed on your system.

To install Devhelp:
pacman -S mingw-w64-x86_64-devhelp

Step 4 (optional): Install the Python bindings

If you want to develop a GTK3 application in Python, you need to install the Python bindings.

If you develop in Python 3:
pacman -S mingw-w64-x86_64-python3-gobject

If you develop in Python 2:
pacman -S mingw-w64-x86_64-python2-gobject

Step 5 (optional): Install build tools

If you want to develop a GTK3 application in other languages like C, C++, Fortran, etc, you'll need a compiler like gcc and other development tools:
pacman -S mingw-w64-x86_64-toolchain base-devel

Building and distributing your application

You may use MSYS2 to build your GTK application and create an installer to distribute it. Your installer will need to ship your application build artifacts as well as GTK binaries and runtime dependencies; see the instructions above for vcpkg for more details.

Legal notes on distributing GTK with your application

You are welcome to redistribute GTK binaries, including applications that bundle them, on other web sites, CD-ROM, and other media. You don't have to ask for permission. That's one of the points of Free Software. One important thing that the GNU licenses require is that you must also redistribute the source code. This usually means at least the gettext, GLib, GTK, Pango and Atk sources.

List of GTK dependencies

GTK depends on several libraries:

To run GTK programs you will also need: