Compiling Inkscape on Windows with MSYS2

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This page explains how to compile Inkscape on Windows using MSYS2.

MSYS2 does not only offer a convenient build environment for compiling Inkscape but also provides all necessary build tools and dependencies making it extremely simple to get started with Inkscape development.

Installing MSYS2

To set-up MSYS2 and download the necessary dependencies only two steps are required:

  • Step 1 — Install MSYS2
    • Download the installer from the MSYS2 homepage. Start the installation and follow the instructions on screen.
    • After installation finished start an MSYS2 MSYS shell (you can work with the one launched by the installer, use the "MSYS2 MSYS" shortcut in the start menu or launch "msys2.exe" in the installation directory).
    • Execute the command pacman -Syu. This will start a full system upgrade and ensure that you have the latest versions of all core libraries (repeat this step until no new updates are found).
  • Step 2 — Download dependencies
    • Start an MSYS2 MinGW shell (use the "MSYS2 MinGW 32/64-bit" shortcut in the start menu or launch "mingw32/64.exe" in the installation directory).
      Choose the shell in this step (32-bit or 64-bit) according to whether you want to build a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Inkscape later.
    • Execute the script by either copy-and-pasting it into the console or by downloading it and (after changing to the folder containing the file) typing ./ If you already have a copy of the Inkscape source it should also be included in the "buildtools" folder.

Step 2 will take some time to complete (approx. 10 minutes depending on the speed of your internet connection and the load of the download servers), so relax and get a cup of coffee...

Obtaining Inkscape Source

Note: For general instructions on how to use Git see Working with Git.

As MSYS2 provides the revision control software Git you do not need to download it separately. Simply open the MSYS2 MinGW shell and run the command

git clone master

This creates a folder called "master" in the current working directory (usually the home folder located at "C:\msys64\home\Your_Username" or similar) in which the so-called clone of the source repository is created.

Building Inkscape with MSYS2

To compile Inkscape open the MSYS2 MinGW shell (remember to use the correct shell, i.e. 32-bit or 64-bit, matching the dependencies you downloaded above and the version of Inkscape you want to build).

Then execute the following commands:

# change to the directory containing your Inkscape source checkout (has to be adjusted to match your system)
cd master

# create a directory for the build (could also be another folder, but we'll assume 'build' being used for the rest of the article) 
mkdir build
cd build

# create build files with CMake (we generate rules for "Ninja" as it's significantly faster then "MinGW Makefiles" which uses mingw32-make)
# note the source path '..' (which in this case is the parent directory) and should always point to the root folder of your copy of the Inkscape source
cmake -G Ninja ..

# start the compilation

# install compiled files and all dependencies required to run Inkscape into the folder 'build/inkscape/'
ninja install

# The last two steps can be combined (i.e. run 'ninja install' immediately) if you want to save time in future, as the "install" target also includes the default target

That's it!
Afterwards you should have a complete binary distribution of Inkscape in the folder "build/inkscape/" that can be run on any Windows machine.


If you only want to run Inkscape you do not need to follow these instructions. Simply execute inkscape.exe from the "build/inkscape/" directory created in the previous step, the ninja install command takes care of copying all required files into this directory.

To package those files for distribution (this should only concern package maintainers or people who want to improve the installer code) we offer a set of CMake convenience targets that can be executed as follows:

  • ninja dist-win-7z – generate binary 7z archive. You'll need to install 7-Zip.
  • ninja dist-win-exe – generate .exe installer. You'll need to install Nullsoft Scriptable Install System (NSIS) version 3 or later.
  • ninja dist-win-msi – generate .msi installer. You'll need to install Windows Installer XML (WiX Toolset).
  • Additionally there's a dist-win-all target (executes all of the above in parallel) and for each of the three there's also a dist-win-*-fast target (which is identical in functionality but will use a faster compression method which will increase package size but will also significantly reduce packaging time which can be useful for debugging/development purposes).

For some additional details which have not been incorporated into this page yet see the previous instructions at Compiling Inkscape on Windows 32-bit#Creating an installer (might be partially oudated).