The 14 Best IDE for C++ Programmers to Start Using

When it comes to C++ development, choosing the right Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is crucial for productivity and efficiency.

From Microsoft Visual Studio to JetBrains CLion and Eclipse CDT, each IDE offers unique features like code completion, cross-platform development, and powerful debugging tools.

Whether you need build automation or version control integration, there’s an IDE tailored to streamline your C++ programming workflow.

The Most Popular IDEs for C++ Programmers

IDE NamePlatform SupportKey FeatureLanguage SupportFree / Paid
NetBeansWindows, MacOS, LinuxMulti-language supportC/C++, Java, PHP, HTML5…Free
CLionWindows, MacOS, LinuxIntelligent code analysisC/C++, other languages via pluginsPaid
Visual Studio CodeWindows, MacOS, LinuxExtensive extensionsC/C++, Python, Java, JavaScript…Free
Dev C++WindowsMinGW GCC pre-packagedC/C++Free
CodeLiteWindows, MacOS, LinuxLightweight and fastC/C++, PHP, JavaScript…Free
Code::BlocksWindows, MacOS, LinuxOpen source and plugin-richC/C++Free
Qt CreatorWindows, MacOS, LinuxGUI design, cross-platformC++, QMLFree, with Commercial option
C++ BuilderWindowsRapid Application DevelopmentC++Paid
KDevelopLinux, (Windows experimental)Plugin architectureC++, PHP, Python, Perl…Free
GNAT StudioWindows, MacOS, LinuxAda/SPARK support, C++ compatibleAda, SPARK, C++Free
Visual StudioWindowsAdvanced debuggingC++, C#, VB.NET, F#, etc.Free, with Commercial options
BracketsWindows, MacOS, LinuxLive preview for web developmentHTML, CSS, JavaScript, C/C++ with extensionsFree
CevelopWindows, MacOS, LinuxFocus on modern C++C++Free
JDoodle C++ Compiler IDEWeb-basedOnline compiling and editingC++Free
EclipseWindows, MacOS, LinuxRich plugin ecosystem (CDT)Java, C/C++, JavaScript, PHP, Python…Free


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NetBeans brings the full package to your desktop. It’s not just for C++; Java, PHP, and more, all feel right at home. Plus, it’s got tools to stylishly debug and profile your projects.

Best Features:

  • Multi-language support
  • Powerful code editing and refactoring tools
  • Integrated profiling and debugging

What we like about it: The ease with which it lets you juggle different languages. It’s like being a polyglot in the coding world.


clion_1280x800-1024x640 The 14 Best IDE for C++ Programmers to Start Using

CLion is like that smart friend who always seems to know what you’re trying to say. It’s smart, sleek, and understands your C++ needs deeply with its intelligent code analysis and full-on CMake support.

Best Features:

  • Smart C++ editor
  • Advanced refactoring options
  • Full CMake support

What we like about it: Its code analysis prowess. CLion is all about making your code cleaner and more efficient.

Visual Studio Code

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Visual Studio Code is the eclectic artist of the bunch. It’s all about customization with its robust library of extensions, making it suitable for just about any language you throw at it.

Best Features:

  • Extensive library of extensions
  • Integrated Git control
  • Debugging that just works

What we like about it: Flexibility is its forte. The ability to personalize it with extensions is like having a paintbrush where you can change the bristle style on the fly.

Dev C++

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Dev C++ is your trusty sidekick. It’s been around. It’s seen things. It may not be flashy, but it gets the job done, especially if you’re tinkering with legacy C++ projects.

Best Features:

  • Basic but functional IDE
  • MinGW GCC pre-packaged
  • Template support

What we like about it: Its simplicity. You won’t get lost in a maze of features here.


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CodeLite is the nimble ninja. It’s fast, responsive, and slices through the demands of C++ development with its lean yet powerful feature set, making coding less of a chore.

Best Features:

  • Light on system resources
  • Supports various compilers
  • Extensible via plugins

What we like about it: Speed. CodeLite makes quick work of loading and managing your projects.


codeblocks The 14 Best IDE for C++ Programmers to Start Using

Code::Blocks is the democratic choice. Open source and adaptable, it’s the people’s champ for getting started in C++ or hammering out some quick projects.

Best Features:

  • Open source and free to use
  • Configurable build options
  • Extensive plugin framework

What we like about it: Community support. It’s built by and for its users, which means there’s a solid community vibe.

Qt Creator

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Qt Creator is like the Swiss Army knife in your toolkit, especially if you’re delving into the world of GUI development with Qt. It’s your road to visually stunning applications.

Best Features:

  • Integrated GUI layout and forms designer
  • Great for cross-platform development
  • Built-in, efficient project management

What we like about it: The visual GUI designer. Bringing interfaces to life is a breeze with Qt Creator.

C++ Builder

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C++ Builder puts the pedal to the metal when it comes to RAD (Rapid Application Development). It’s all about getting visually impressive applications built fast and with less code.

Best Features:

  • Visual development via RAD Studio
  • Component-based frameworks
  • Strong database support

What we like about it: Rapid development times. If you’re looking to build something quick, C++ Builder is your go-to.


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Eclipse is like a seasoned guide for your C++ adventure. Known for its Java pedigree, it’s no slouch when it’s about dealing with C++ too, thanks to its powerful CDT plugin.

Best Features:

  • Rich CDT plugin for C++ development
  • Cross-platform compatibility
  • A plethora of plugins for various needs

What we like about it: Its versatility is a superpower. With Eclipse, you get an IDE that’s both a home base for C++ development and the launchpad for countless other languages. It’s your one-stop shop for code craftsmanship.


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KDevelop is like the strategist of IDEs – it knows every angle of the game and helps you to plot your project with precision. It’s particularly praised by Linux developers.

Best Features:

  • Supports multiple programming languages
  • Plugin architecture
  • Seamless integration with any build system

What we like about it: It’s integration smoothness. KDevelop plays nice with just about everything in your dev environment.

GNAT Studio

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GNAT Studio flies a bit under the radar, geared more toward Ada and SPARK, but don’t let that fool you – it supports C++ and brings some serious compiling and debugging tools.

Best Features:

  • Designed around compiler and debugger
  • Language-sensitive editor
  • Support for multiple languages and platforms

What we like about it: The control it gives you over the build process. It’s for those who love to get their hands dirty in the guts of their compilation.

Visual Studio

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Visual Studio is the heavyweight champion; it’s packed with just about every tool you could ever need for C++ development and beyond. It’s like the fortress of IDEs – big, strong, and full of resources.

Best Features:

  • Advanced debugging and diagnostics
  • Huge ecosystem of extensions
  • Robust toolset for various development needs

What we like about it: Its comprehensive debugging and diagnostics capabilities. Debugging in Visual Studio is akin to having a superpower.


css-1024x484 The 14 Best IDE for C++ Programmers to Start Using

Brackets plays a different tune, initially harmonizing better with web development, but it’s got enough rhythm for C++ too, especially if you like your code nice and pretty.

Best Features:

  • Live preview for web languages
  • Inline editors
  • Preprocessor support

What we like about it: Its sleek interface. Brackets make sure your coding environment is as stylish as the code itself.


uvyg5 The 14 Best IDE for C++ Programmers to Start Using

Cevelop is the niche artist, focusing intensely on C++ and its modern iterations. It comes with a suite of tools designed to fine-tune and improve the quality of your C++ code.

Best Features:

  • Refactoring for modern C++
  • Static code analysis
  • Templates and macros

What we like about it: The focus on modern C++. Cevelop keeps you at the cutting edge with up-to-date language features.

JDoodle C++ Complier IDE

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JDoodle is the quick draw of the west. When you need to code on the go, or are dying to test some C++ snippets, it’s your online playground. No install, all thrill.

Best Features:

  • Online compiler and editor
  • Immediate execution
  • No setup required

What we like about it: Its simplicity and accessibility. JDoodle brings C++ to your browser; it’s coding with freedom.

FAQ On IDEs For C++

What is the best IDE for C++ development?

Microsoft Visual Studio stands out with its comprehensive debugging tools, IntelliSense, and seamless version control integration.

Additionally, it offers extensive C++ library support and a robust build automation system. For a more lightweight option, Code::Blocks is open-source and customizable to fit various C++ programming needs.

Can I use a free IDE for C++?

Absolutely. Eclipse CDT and Code::Blocks are both excellent free IDEs. They offer essential features like code refactoring toolssyntax highlighting, and compiler warnings. Both support extensive plugin ecosystems, making them versatile choices for C++ development.

Does my IDE support cross-platform development?

Many modern IDEs, including JetBrains CLion and Eclipse CDT, support cross-platform development. These environments allow you to write, debug, and compile your C++ code on multiple operating systems, ensuring your projects are versatile and portable.

How do I integrate version control into my C++ IDE?

Integrating version control is straightforward with most IDEs. Microsoft Visual Studio and JetBrains CLion offer built-in version control integration with Git and SVN. Simply connect your repository, and you can manage commits, branches, and merges directly within the IDE.

Is there an IDE optimized for C++ on macOS?

Yes, Xcode is optimized for C++ on macOS. It offers excellent code completionerror diagnostics, and debugging tools specific to macOS and iOS. Its interface is user-friendly, making it a top choice for Apple developers working with C++.

What features should I look for in a C++ IDE?

Key features include code navigationdebugging toolssyntax highlightingbuild automation, and version control integration. IDEs like Microsoft Visual Studio and Eclipse CDT offer these features, making them popular among C++ developers aiming for productivity.

Is JetBrains CLion suitable for large C++ projects?

JetBrains CLion is well-suited for large projects, offering robust features like advanced refactoring toolsdetailed error diagnostics, and strong build system integration. It excels in managing complex C++ projects with ease, supporting both CMake and Gradle.

Can I use CMake with my C++ IDE?

Absolutely. Many IDEs, including JetBrains CLion and Eclipse CDT, come with built-in support for CMake. This integration simplifies project configuration and build automation, making it easier to manage dependencies and compile C++ code across diverse environments.

How important is debugging capability in a C++ IDE?

Debugging is critical. IDEs like Microsoft Visual Studio and GDB offer advanced debugging tools that can save hours of troubleshooting. Features like error diagnosticscompiler warnings, and step-through debugging help identify issues in your code quickly and efficiently.

What lightweight IDEs are available for C++?

For a lightweight experience, consider CodeLite or Geany. Both are open-source and offer essential features like syntax checkingcode completion, and version control integration. They’re excellent choices for quick, efficient C++ programming without extensive resource requirements.


Getting the right IDEs for C++ can be a game-changer for any developer. From Microsoft Visual Studio to Eclipse CDT, and JetBrains CLion, these tools offer features like code refactoringdebugging tools, and version control integration. Whether you’re working on cross-platform development or need robust build automation, these IDEs provide comprehensive support.

With C++ programming made more efficient through advanced features like error diagnostics and code completion, you’ll enhance productivity and streamline your workflow. Explore the options and find the best fit to elevate your C++ development projects.

If you enjoyed reading this article about the best IDE for C++, you should check out this one about the best IDE for web development or this one with open-source mobile app development software.

We also wrote about a few related subjects like the best IDE for Java, Flutter, Javascript, and Mac.

And we managed to create comparative articles like Sublime vs Notepad++, Sublime vs PyCharm, and VScode vs Sublime.

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