VSCode Setup

Install Compiler Toolchain

First, you will need to install a compiler - the program that will build your code once it is written. The instructions for this vary based on your platform:


MinGW is the name of a project to make the gcc compiler available on Windows. Use this link to download the file mingw64.zip.

Once downloaded, find the file in Windows Explorer. Right-click it and select Extract All.... For the location, type: C:\.

Once this is done, your C: drive should have a folder called mingw64 in it. In that folder, you should see folders called bin, opt, lib, etc...

Now you need to add C:\mingw64\bin to your Path (the list of folders Windows looks in for programs it can run). To do so, follow these Add to the PATH instructions. After pressing New to add a new item to the Path, type or copy/paste in C:\mingw64\bin.

This video demonstrates the process:


You will need to install the XCode command line development tools. You can do this either by typing a command or using the app store:

  1. To install via a command, open a Terminal window. Then type the following:

    xcode-select --install

    For more information, check out this page which has screenshots and a video of the process.

  2. Alternatively, you can install the full XCode application (Apple's official development environment). This is a larger install but also sets up your computer to do development specifically for OSX and/or iOS. To do this method, simplify find XCode in the app store and install it.


You need to install packages that contain gcc, gdb, and make (among other tools). On Ubuntu and other apt-based distros you can do this by running the following commands in a terminal:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install build-essential
sudo apt install gdb

Testing the compiler

To confirm the compiler is installed, open a terminal window (Terminal/Power Shell/Command Prompt on Windows, Terminal on Mac). and type the following:


If you get an error saying something like g++: fatal error: no input files, you are good to go. If you get an error saying something like `g++ is not recognized as a command


Download VSCode and install it.

Then you need to install some extensions that will add features to VSCode.

Open VS Code and hit Ctrl-Shift-X. In the search bar, type/paste each of the following one at a time. After finding each extension, click it and then click the Install button. See here for more information on install extensions.


If you are on a Mac, you will also want to install this extra Extension:


This video demonstrates setting up VSCode and setting up the project templates (which is the next step). Make sure to still read the instructions below, especially if you are on a Mac/Linux.

Project Template Setup

We provide some project templates you will want to use to easily set up coding projects. They are provided as a .zip file - begin by downloading it: ProjectTemplates.zip.

There is a video walkthrough of template setup/use at the bottom of this page. But don't skip the written instructions, especially if you are on a Mac.

When you open that .zip, you should see a folder called ProjectTemplates. You need to put that folder in a specific location depending on your operating system.

Before attempting the setup, make sure you have run VSCode at least one time so it can create the folder you need to access.

PC Template Setup

Hit the Windows (start) key and then type or paste this: %APPDATA%\Code\User\ and hit enter. That should open a folder on the path C:\Users\YOURNAME\AppData\Roaming\Code\User. That is where you want to place the ProjectTemplates folder.

Mac Template Setup

Hit Command-Shift-G to open up the Go To Folder feature. Type or paste $HOME/Library/Application Support/Code/User/ and hit enter. That will open up the folder where you want to place the ProjectTemplates folder.

Linux Template Setup

Navigate to ~/.config/Code/User/ProjectTemplates - that is where you will want to place the ProjectTemplates folder.

Testing the Project Templates

  1. Make a new empty folder on your computer.

  2. Open VSCode and do File > Open Folder to open the folder you created.

  3. Hit ctrl-shift-p and start typing Project: Create From Template. As soon as you see that option appear you can select it and hit enter.

  4. Select Basic Project

  5. When prompted, type a project name like HelloWorld. Then provide your name. The tool should generate files in your folder.

Do not use spaces in the project name. (Spaces in file/folder names often can cause issues with programming tools.)
  1. Hit F5 or go to the menu option Run > Start Debugging. Your program should build and display "Hello World" in the Terminal pane at the bottom of the window.

    If you are on a Mac, you may need to first switch to the Run and Debug view: Run and Debug view

    And then select Run Program (Mac): Run and Debug (Mac) option)

    before running your project will work