Integrating IMGUI with CMake: A Step-by-Step Guide with Code Examples

When it comes to building projects with IMGUI (Immediate Mode GUI), utilizing a powerful build system like CMake can simplify the compilation process and ensure seamless integration. In this blog post, we will provide detailed instructions and code examples on how to incorporate IMGUI into your project using CMake, enabling you to create interactive and intuitive graphical user interfaces effortlessly.

Step 1: Download the IMGUI Library

Visit the official IMGUI repository on GitHub ( and download the IMGUI library source code. Extract the contents of the archive to a directory accessible within your project.

Step 2: Set Up Your Development Environment

Ensure that CMake is installed on your system. You can download CMake from the official website ( and follow the installation instructions provided for your specific operating system.

Step 3: Create a CMakeLists.txt file In your project directory

Create a file named “CMakeLists.txt” and open it in a text editor. This file will serve as the configuration script for CMake.

Step 4: Configure CMake

For IMGUI Integration Inside the “CMakeLists.txt” file, add the following lines to set up your project and define the minimum required CMake version:

cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 3.0)

Next, specify the source files for your project. In this example, assume you have a single source file named “main.cpp”:


Add the IMGUI library source files to the source file list. Assuming you have placed the IMGUI source files in a directory called “imgui” within your project:


Step 5: Link the IMGUI Library To link the IMGUI library with your project, add the following lines to your “CMakeLists.txt” file:

add_executable(MyIMGUIApp ${SOURCES} ${IMGUI_SOURCES})
target_include_directories(MyIMGUIApp PRIVATE imgui)  # Include the IMGUI headers

# Add any required dependencies here
target_link_libraries(MyIMGUIApp PRIVATE ${CONAN_LIBS})  # Example for using Conan package manager

Ensure that the target_include_directories command includes the directory where the IMGUI header files are located.

Step 6: Build Your Project

Create a build directory (e.g., “build/”) inside your project directory. Open a terminal or command prompt and navigate to the build directory. Execute the following commands to generate the build files and compile your project:

cmake ..
cmake --build .

Step 7: Test Your IMGUI Application

After the build process completes successfully, you can now test your IMGUI application. Run the generated executable file from the build directory or execute the project from your integrated development environment (IDE). Verify that the IMGUI library is functioning correctly, and your GUI elements are displayed as expected.

See my post “Getting Started with Dear ImGui: A Beginner’s Guide to Building User Interfaces” to get you started with ImGui application.

The project folder structure for integrating IMGUI with CMake can vary depending on your specific requirements and preferences. However, here’s an example of a typical project folder structure:

├── CMakeLists.txt
├── build/
├── imgui/
│   ├── imgui.cpp
│   ├── imgui_demo.cpp
│   ├── imgui_draw.cpp
│   ├── imgui_widgets.cpp
│   └── imgui.h
└── src/
    └── main.cpp

By following the step-by-step guide and utilizing the provided code examples, you can seamlessly integrate IMGUI into your project using CMake. This approach simplifies the compilation process and ensures compatibility across different platforms. Leverage the power of IMGUI and CMake to create immersive and interactive graphical user interfaces with ease. Happy coding!

Leave a Comment