Write unit tests for C/C++ in Visual Studio

You can write and run your C++ unit tests by using the Test Explorer window, just like for other languages. For more information about using Test Explorer, see Run unit tests with Test Explorer.


Some features such as Live Unit Testing, Coded UI Tests and IntelliTest are not supported for C++.

Visual Studio includes these C++ test frameworks with no additional downloads required:

  • Microsoft Unit Testing Framework for C++
  • Google Test
  • Boost.Test
  • CTest

In addition to the installed frameworks, you can write your own test adapter for whatever framework you would like to use within Visual Studio. A test adapter can integrate unit tests with the Test Explorer window. Several third-party adapters are available on the Visual Studio Marketplace. For more information, see Install third-party unit test frameworks.

Visual Studio 2017 version 15.7 (Professional and Enterprise)

C++ unit test projects support CodeLens.

Visual Studio 2017 version 15.5

  • Google Test Adapter is included as a default component of the Desktop development with C++ workload. It has a project template that you can add to a solution via the Add New Project context menu on the solution node in Solution Explorer, and options you can configure via Tools > Options. For more information, see How to: use Google Test in Visual Studio.

  • Boost.Test is included as a default component of the Desktop development with C++ workload. It is integrated with Test Explorer but currently does not have project template, therefore it must be manually configured. For more information, see How to: use Boost.Test in Visual Studio.

  • CTest support is included with the CMake Tools for Visual Studio component which is part of the Desktop development with C++ workload. However, CTest is not yet fully integrated with Test Explorer. For more information, see How to: use CTest in Visual Studio.

Visual Studio 2015 and earlier

You can download the Google Test adapter and Boost.Test Adapter extensions on the Visual Studio Marketplace at Test adapter for Boost.Test and Test adapter for Google Test.

Basic test workflow

The following sections show the basic steps to get you started with C++ unit testing. The basic configuration is very similar for the Microsoft and Google Test frameworks. Boost.Test requires that you manually create a test project.

Create a test project

You define and run tests inside one or more test projects that are in the same solution as the code you want to test. To add a new test project to an existing solution, right-click on the Solution node in Solution Explorer and choose Add > New Project. Then in the left pane choose Visual C++ Test and choose one of the project types from the center pane. The following illustration shows the test projects that are available when the Desktop Development with C++ workload is installed:

C++ Test Projects

Create references to other projects in the solution

To enable your test code to access the functions in the project to be tested, add a reference to the project in your test project. Right-click on the test project node in Solution Explorer and choose Add > Reference. Then in the dialog choose the project(s) you want to test.

Add reference

Add #include directives for header files

Next, in your unit test .cpp file, add an #include directive for any header files that declare the types and functions you want to test. Type #include " and then IntelliSense will activate to help you choose. Repeat for any additional headers.

Add include directives

Write test methods


This section shows syntax for the Microsoft Unit Testing Framework for C/C++. It is documented here: Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.CppUnitTestFramework API reference. For Google Test documentation, see Google Test primer. For Boost.Test, see Boost Test library: The unit test framework.

The .cpp file in your test project has a stub class and method defined for you as an example of how to write test code. Note that the signatures use the TEST_CLASS and TEST_METHOD macros, which make the methods discoverable from the Test Explorer window.

Add include directives

TEST_CLASS and TEST_METHOD are part of the Microsoft Native Test Framework. Test Explorer discovers test methods in other supported frameworks in a similar way.

A TEST_METHOD returns void. To produce a test result, use the static methods in the Assert class to test actual results against what is expected. In the following example, assume MyClass has a constructor that takes a std::string. We can test that the constructor initializes the class as expected like so:

    std::string name = "Bill";
    MyClass mc(name);
    Assert::AreEqual(name, mc.GetName());

In the previous example, the result of the Assert::AreEqual call determines whether the test passes or fails. The Assert class contains many other methods for comparing expected vs. actual results.

You can add traits to test methods to specify test owners, priority and other information. You can then use these values to sort and group tests in Test Explorer. For more information, see Run unit tests with Test Explorer.

Run the tests

  1. On the Test menu, choose Windows > Test Explorer. The following illustration shows a test project whose tests have not yet run.

    Test Explorer before tests are run


    CTest integration with Test Explorer is not yet available. Run CTest tests from the CMake main menu.

  2. If all your tests are not visible in the window, build the test project by right-clicking its node in Solution Explorer and choosing Build or Rebuild.

  3. In Test Explorer, choose Run All, or select the specific tests you want to run. Right-click on a test for other options, including running it in debug mode with breakpoints enabled. After running all the tests, the window shows which tests passed and which ones failed:

Test Explorer after tests are run

For failed tests, the message offers details that help to diagnose the cause. You can right-click on the failing test and choose Debug Selected Tests to step through the function where the failure occurred.

For more information about using Test Explorer, see Run unit tests with Test Explorer.

For best practices related to unit testing, see Unit test basics

Use CodeLens

Visual Studio 2017 version 15.7 Professional and Enterprise Editions only: CodeLens enables you to quickly see the status of a unit test without leaving the code editor. You can initialize CodeLens for a C++ unit test project in any of these ways:

  • Edit and build your test project or solution.
  • Rebuild your project or solution.
  • Run test(s) from the Test Explorer window.

After CodeLens is initialized, you can see test status icons above each unit test.

C++ CodeLens Icons

Click on the icon for more information, or to run or debug the unit test:

C++ CodeLens Run and Debug

See also

Unit test your code