VC++ Directories Property Page (Windows)

Use this property page to tell Visual Studio which directories to use when building the currently-selected project. To set directories for multiple projects in a solution, use a custom property sheet as described in Share or reuse Visual Studio C++ project settings.

For the Linux version of this page, see VC++ Directories (Linux C++).

To access the VC++ Directories property page:

  1. If the Solution Explorer window is not visible, then on the main menu choose View > Solution Explorer.

  2. Right-click on a project node (not the top-level solution) and choose Properties to open the Property Pages dialog box.

  3. Select the Configuration Properties > VC++ Directories property page.

VC++ Directories properties apply to a project, not the top-level solution node. If you do not see VC++ Directories under Configuration Properties, select a C++ project node in the Solution Explorer window:

Select the project node

Note that the VC++ Directories property page for cross-platform projects looks different. For information specific to Linux C++ projects, see VC++ Directories (Linux C++).

If you are not familiar with project properties in Visual Studio, you might find it helpful to first read Set C++ compiler and build properties in Visual Studio.

The default settings for VC++ Directories properties depend on project type. For desktop projects they include the C++ tools locations for a particular Platform Toolset and the Windows SDK location. You can change the Platform Toolset and Windows SDK version on the Configuration Properties > General page.

To view the values for any of the directories:

  1. Select one of the properties in the VC++ Directories page. For example, choose Library Directories.
  2. Choose the down-arrow button at the end of the property value field.
  3. In the drop-down menu, choose Edit.

Edit Library Directories

You now see a dialog box like this:

Show Library Directories

Use this dialog to view the current directories. However, if you want to change or add a directory, it is better to use Property Manager to create a property sheet or modify the default user property sheet. For more information, see Share or reuse Visual Studio C++ project settings.

As shown above, many of the inherited paths are given as macros. To examine the current value of a macro, choose the Macros button in the lower right corner of the dialog box. Note that many macros depend on the configuration type. A macro in a debug build might evaluate to a different path than the same macro in a release build.

You can search for partial or complete matches in the edit box. The following illustration shows all the macros that contain the string "WindowsSDK" and it also shows the current path that the macro evaluates to:

See macro values

Note: The list is populated as you type. Don't press Enter.

For more information about macros and why you should use them instead of hard-coded paths whenever possible, see Set C++ compiler and build properties in Visual Studio.

For a list of commonly used macros, see Common macros for build commands and properties.

You can define your own macros in two ways:

  • Set environment variables in a developer command prompt. All environment variables are treated as MSBuild properties/macros.

  • Define user macros in a .props file. For more information, see Property page macros.

For more information, see Property inheritance in Visual Studio projects, and these blog posts: VC++ Directories, Visual Studio 2010 C++ Project Upgrade Guide.

Directory Types

You can also specify other directories, as follows.

Executable Directories
Directories in which to search for executable files. Corresponds to the PATH environment variable.

Include Directories
Directories in which to search for include files that are referenced in the source code. Corresponds to the INCLUDE environment variable.

Reference Directories
Directories in which to search for assembly and module (metadata) files that are referenced in the source code by the #using directive. Corresponds to the LIBPATH environment variable.

Library Directories
Directories in which to search for libraries (.lib) files; this includes run-time libraries. Corresponds to the LIB environment variable. This setting does not apply to .obj files; to link to an .obj file, on the Configuration Properties > Linker > General property page, select Additional Library Dependencies and then specify the relative path of the file. For more information, see Linker property pages.

Library WinRT Directories
Directories to search for WinRT library files for use in Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps.

Source Directories
Directories in which to search for source files to use for IntelliSense.

Exclude Directories
Before each compilation, Visual Studio queries the timestamp on all files to determine whether any have been modified since the previous compilation. If your project has large stable libraries, you can potentially speed up build times by excluding those directories from the timestamp check.

Sharing the Settings

You can share project properties with other users or across multiple computers. For more information, see Set C++ compiler and build properties in Visual Studio.