BEST C++ IDEs for Windows, Mac and Linux

best c++ ide windows mac and linux

In the ever growing technological advancement era, it is difficult to keep a track of changing upgrades. The major upgradation is happening in the domain of software coding and algorithm building.

The coding platforms and the developing softwares are updated and changed day by day and simultaneously various source code building languages are invented. The computer readable formatting and processing has also gained impetus due to the fast paced conversion of these languages to machine readable languages. The major player for such development are the Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

What is an IDE?

An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is a software application providing comprehensive building facilities to computer programmers and software analysts for various software developments and providing an easier platform for algorithm generation. The major features of an IDE are:

  1. Source code editor- These generally provides the paraphrasing and syntax errors in the source code and fixes them.
  2. Build automation tools- These refers to the interlinking of various functions in the code and help to automate it.
  3. Debugger- This is basically used in debugging function to find the bugs in the codes and thereby fix it.
  4. Intelligent code completion- Nowadays this feature is also introduced in the modern IDEs which  helps in completion of the codes in a smoother way.

These functions are basically ingrained and they make up for the pre-requisites of an IDE  but nowadays these are generally being combined and used in Graphic User Interfaces or GUIs which gives these a new cutting edge approach as well as makes the GUIs  specific computer as well as specific operating systems compatible.

The major glitch in IDEs is it’s difficulty in demarcating the line between the integrated development environment and the components of broader software environment. This leads to compatibility issues with the software and also causes problems to execute the code on the particular operating systems.

Due to these reasons, various IDEs have been created for functioning of specific computer languages on such platforms which works best with the particular operating systems and gives a better and an efficient output. Moreover, it also avoids unnecessary decoding or decrypting functions to be used in the particular software and thus generates a faster environment of output generation without unnecessary wastage of storage memory.

Web based IDE

Nowadays, internet is taking the world at a greater level altogether and so it was inevitable that sooner or later these IDEs would also be integrated somewhere or the other with internet. Thus the evolution of web based IDEs have taken place which are working on many portable web browsers like Google Chrome, Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox etc and they provide the comfort of same basic and conventional IDE with an upgradation to portability and wide access throughout the globe.

This generally works like a typical website with a front end and a back end and mostly the front end is developed by various languages like C++ and Javascript. The back end automatically deals with data storing and retrieving through a HTTP API. These web based IDEs can also be based and functioned as C++ IDEs and thus provides the user with a lot of options to choose from.


These IDEs use the computer language C++ and uses it in the form of a compiler to run the source code and the object code into a machine readable format and thus run the entire program to get the desired output. This is a simple task but the best C++ IDEs if used on the proper operating systems gives the best results without and stack overflow or wastage of memory space.

Best C++ IDE

The major tools which are generally used for C++ coding are TURBO C and TURBO C++, but these are losing their importance with the growing demands of the market to provide a faster and efficient software which caters to multiple needs of the user. Thus recently there has been an exponential increase in the numbers of C++ IDE  and few of them are:-

1. Visual Studio

visual studio c++ ide

Visual Studio is quite fast and has amazing zooming and retracting features which gives the user a wholesome view of the entire code sequence and it is easier to maneuver the mistakes and syntax errors in the code and simultaneously fix it. Visual Studio is also the best C++ IDE for Windows operating system.

The Express version is free of cost and is best suited for one person but if there is a group project involved then one has to go for Pro Version for which you have to pay a nominal sum.

Another major important feature is that it also includes other popular languages in the list and thus it becomes easier to switch accordingly.

Platforms:- Windows, Mac, and Linux

2. Eclipse CDT

Eclipse CDT ide screenshot

Though all works equally well but Eclipse CDT is seamless and gives an efficient output. Eclipse CDT has inbuilt options for folder creation which helps in differentiating between the main function from the sublayers or subsidiary functions of the software. But Eclipse CDT is the best C++ IDE for Mac operating system. Eclipse is also a multi language platform and it works equally well with python and Javascript along with C++ and C#.  Few other advantages of Eclipse includes:-

  1. Development tools for C++
  2. Inbuilt GIT Team provider
  3. Remote system Explorer
  4. Easy debugging tools

Platforms:- Windows, Mac and Linux

3. Qt Creator

qt creator ide

It is also a cross platform C++ IDE and can be used in multiple OS. It is available only for free monthly trial but one will have to pay to get complete access. It is comparatively primitive in approach with the following features as:

  1. Has good support structure for code analysis.
  2. Good and efficient refactoring and code compiling set up.
  3. It works across multiple platforms.
  4. It also has drag and drop functionality.

Platforms:- Windows, Mac and Linux

4. CLion

clion ide for mac windows

CLion is also one of the most efficient C++ IDE to be used for Mac and thus it is recalled as the best platform for developing because it is easier to use and apart from being multilingual portable, it also has major other features such as:-

  1. A smart editor
  2. Terminal which is embedded
  3. There are various keyboard shortcuts to provide easy access.
  4. Options for code analysis.
  5. Support and backup strength is also good.

Platforms – Windows, Mac and Linux

5. NetBeans IDE

netbeans ide

It provides various services which are impeccable and class apart from any other IDEs. It has one of the best remote development, best compiler configuration, and a C++ 11 Support system which provides protection during any software crash and provides backup for the lost code.

The major attractive features are:

  1. It can create as well as run C++ tests from within.
  2. It has a Qt toolkit support
  3. It has features for source inspection
  4. It has a code assistance feature
  5. It has options for multiple compilers such as GNU, Cygwin, Oracle Solaris Studio
  6. It can automatically archive compiled files into .zip files.
  7. It also has advanced debugger tools like GNU GDB Debugger tool.

Thus Netbeans provides a major boost to the user and efficiently guides the user to an easier route towards systematic and efficient coding.

Platforms:- Windows, Mac and Linux

6. Code::Blocks

codeblocks ide

Code::Blocks is an efficient and most importantly a free software to be used to meet the challenging needs of a coder. This offers efficient memory storage and various other features are:-

  1. It is fully extendable and configurable to the plugins.
  2. It has state of the art support and compiling mechanism.
  3. It is basically a class browser so it can clearly visualize object oriented programming.
  4. It supports code analysis.
  5. It also has integral GUI interfacing.
  6. It also has auto compilation and profiling tools.

Platforms:- Windows, Linux and Mac

7. CodeLite

codelite ide

It is an advanced version of Code: Blocks but it is easier, cheaper and an open source platform. It comparatively faster than other IDEs and some of the major features include:

  1. Error checking availability via Build tap
  2. Generic support  given to the compilers.
  3. Fast and efficient code completion tool.
  4. Can access inbuilt RAD tools for Widget based application.
  5. Has features of class browsing, profiling and refactoring.

Platforms :- Windows, Linux, OS X

Best Platforms:- Linux

8. Geany

geany ide

Geany is a developed and light software which works across platforms and provides efficient services along with compatibility to work independently and dependently on other OS softwares. Geany is the best C++ IDE for Linux operating system. It requires few libraries like GTK2 for functionality. The major features are:

  1. It has inbuilt set up to compile and run  user codes.
  2. It is extensible with the help of plugins
  3. It has a symbol list and symbol name auto completion
  4. It has enablement of code navigation and call tips.
  5. It also has support for syntax highlighting.

Platforms:- Windows, Mac and Linux

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Which are the top three C++ IDEs to be used for cross platform usage?

Ans- Out of all the above mentioned options the three best C++ IDE to be used as per compatibility with the system and also related to system configuration and coding abilities and skills are:-

  1. Visual Studio
  2. Code:Blocks
  3. Eclipse CDT


  1. What are the available options for beginners and which platform to choose?

Ans- For any beginner coder, it is easier to start from Visual Studio and thereby progress to other IDE but it is also advantageous to initially get set with Eclipse CDT, though it seems difficult at start but with continued practice, it becomes easier to build on it.

Final Words

Thus after the much elaborate discussion on integrated development environment it is pertinent to note that the market provides us with major varieties of options and the software industry with its ever increasing and innovating ways always surprises the user. Thus it is better to go for an advanced tool to begin with in order to save money and time and also get better hands on experience on professional working tools which can be upgraded later for major uses.


Thus to sum up, it is preferable to use multi language supporting platforms like Eclipse and NetBean which provides extensive features and also does not restrict the user to one particular language but rather gives wide choices as per the convenience and given operating system.