Skip to content
A Simple library for communicating with USB and Bluetooth HID devices on Linux, Mac and Windows.
C M4 C++ Makefile Shell Objective-C
Branch: master
Clone or download
Qbicz README: add CI build badges
Show status of test builds on the project GitHub page.
Fixes #35.

Signed-off-by: Filip Kubicz <>
Latest commit 651150d Jul 16, 2019
Type Name Latest commit message Commit time
Failed to load latest commit information.
.builds Add Arch Linux CI Jun 26, 2019
android/jni libusb: Add Android support Jul 23, 2014
doxygen doxygen: disable markdown support Jun 17, 2019
hidapi Update more repository URLs Jul 25, 2019
hidtest Misc. typo fixes Jul 14, 2019
libusb Update more repository URLs Jul 25, 2019
linux Zero-initialize new hid_device_info structs Jul 25, 2019
m4 Exclude ax_pthread.m4 from .gitignore Jul 16, 2012
mac Zero-initialize new hid_device_info structs Jul 25, 2019
pc Add Autotools build system (automake, autconf) Jul 16, 2012
testgui testgui: fix incompatible pointer warning Jul 23, 2019
udev Documentation: path fixes Sep 20, 2016
windows Update more repository URLs Jul 25, 2019
.appveyor.yml Add Windows (msbuild & cygwin) CI (#37) Jul 17, 2019
.gitattributes Add a .gitattributes giving autoconf files LF line endings Jul 16, 2012
.gitignore Add ar-lib & compile to .gitignore Jul 9, 2019
.travis.yml Add macOS CI Jun 26, 2019
AUTHORS.txt Update more repository URLs Jul 25, 2019
HACKING.txt HACKING file. Apr 11, 2010
LICENSE-bsd.txt License files showing modified, but they aren't. Probably a line-endi… Nov 22, 2010
LICENSE-gpl3.txt License files showing modified, but they aren't. Probably a line-endi… Nov 22, 2010
LICENSE-orig.txt Additional licenses. HIDAPI can now be used under the GPLv3, BSD, or … Sep 13, 2010
LICENSE.txt all: Fix license name Oct 6, 2013 Update after Jun 14, 2019 README: add CI build badges Jul 25, 2019
bootstrap Add Autotools build system (automake, autconf) Jul 16, 2012 release 0.9.0 Jun 19, 2019

HIDAPI library for Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and macOS

CI instance Status
macOS master Build Status
Windows master Build status
Linux/BSD, last build (branch/PR) status

HIDAPI is a multi-platform library which allows an application to interface with USB and Bluetooth HID-Class devices on Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, and macOS. HIDAPI can be either built as a shared library (.so, .dll or .dylib) or can be embedded directly into a target application by adding a single source file (per platform) and a single header.

HIDAPI library was originally developed by Alan Ott (signal11).

It was moved to libusb/hidapi on June 4th, 2019, in order to merge important bugfixes and continue development of the library.

Table of Contents


HIDAPI has five back-ends:

  • Windows (using hid.dll)
  • Linux/hidraw (using the Kernel's hidraw driver)
  • Linux/libusb (using libusb-1.0)
  • FreeBSD (using libusb-1.0)
  • Mac (using IOHidManager)

On Linux, either the hidraw or the libusb back-end can be used. There are tradeoffs, and the functionality supported is slightly different.

Linux/hidraw (linux/hid.c):

This back-end uses the hidraw interface in the Linux kernel, and supports both USB and Bluetooth HID devices. It requires kernel version at least 2.6.39 to build. In addition, it will only communicate with devices which have hidraw nodes associated with them. Keyboards, mice, and some other devices which are blacklisted from having hidraw nodes will not work. Fortunately, for nearly all the uses of hidraw, this is not a problem.

Linux/FreeBSD/libusb (libusb/hid.c):

This back-end uses libusb-1.0 to communicate directly to a USB device. This back-end will of course not work with Bluetooth devices.

HIDAPI also comes with a Test GUI. The Test GUI is cross-platform and uses Fox Toolkit It will build on every platform which HIDAPI supports. Since it relies on a 3rd party library, building it is optional but recommended because it is so useful when debugging hardware.

What Does the API Look Like?

The API provides the the most commonly used HID functions including sending and receiving of input, output, and feature reports. The sample program, which communicates with a heavily hacked up version of the Microchip USB Generic HID sample looks like this (with error checking removed for simplicity):

#ifdef WIN32
#include <windows.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include "hidapi.h"

#define MAX_STR 255

int main(int argc, char* argv[])
	int res;
	unsigned char buf[65];
	wchar_t wstr[MAX_STR];
	hid_device *handle;
	int i;

	// Initialize the hidapi library
	res = hid_init();

	// Open the device using the VID, PID,
	// and optionally the Serial number.
	handle = hid_open(0x4d8, 0x3f, NULL);

	// Read the Manufacturer String
	res = hid_get_manufacturer_string(handle, wstr, MAX_STR);
	wprintf(L"Manufacturer String: %s\n", wstr);

	// Read the Product String
	res = hid_get_product_string(handle, wstr, MAX_STR);
	wprintf(L"Product String: %s\n", wstr);

	// Read the Serial Number String
	res = hid_get_serial_number_string(handle, wstr, MAX_STR);
	wprintf(L"Serial Number String: (%d) %s\n", wstr[0], wstr);

	// Read Indexed String 1
	res = hid_get_indexed_string(handle, 1, wstr, MAX_STR);
	wprintf(L"Indexed String 1: %s\n", wstr);

	// Toggle LED (cmd 0x80). The first byte is the report number (0x0).
	buf[0] = 0x0;
	buf[1] = 0x80;
	res = hid_write(handle, buf, 65);

	// Request state (cmd 0x81). The first byte is the report number (0x0).
	buf[0] = 0x0;
	buf[1] = 0x81;
	res = hid_write(handle, buf, 65);

	// Read requested state
	res = hid_read(handle, buf, 65);

	// Print out the returned buffer.
	for (i = 0; i < 4; i++)
		printf("buf[%d]: %d\n", i, buf[i]);

	// Finalize the hidapi library
	res = hid_exit();

	return 0;


HIDAPI may be used by one of three licenses as outlined in LICENSE.txt.


HIDAPI can be downloaded from GitHub

git clone git://

Build Instructions

This section is long. Don't be put off by this. It's not long because it's complicated to build HIDAPI; it's quite the opposite. This section is long because of the flexibility of HIDAPI and the large number of ways in which it can be built and used. You will likely pick a single build method.

HIDAPI can be built in several different ways. If you elect to build a shared library, you will need to build it from the HIDAPI source distribution. If you choose instead to embed HIDAPI directly into your application, you can skip the building and look at the provided platform Makefiles for guidance. These platform Makefiles are located in linux/, libusb/, mac/ and windows/ and are called Makefile-manual. In addition, Visual Studio projects are provided. Even if you're going to embed HIDAPI into your project, it is still beneficial to build the example programs.



On Linux, you will need to install development packages for libudev, libusb and optionally Fox-toolkit (for the test GUI). On Debian/Ubuntu systems these can be installed by running:

sudo apt-get install libudev-dev libusb-1.0-0-dev libfox-1.6-dev

If you downloaded the source directly from the git repository (using git clone), you'll need Autotools:

sudo apt-get install autotools-dev autoconf automake libtool


On FreeBSD you will need to install GNU make, libiconv, and optionally Fox-Toolkit (for the test GUI). This is done by running the following:

pkg_add -r gmake libiconv fox16

If you downloaded the source directly from the git repository (using git clone), you'll need Autotools:

pkg_add -r autotools


On Mac, you will need to install Fox-Toolkit if you wish to build the Test GUI. There are two ways to do this, and each has a slight complication. Which method you use depends on your use case.

If you wish to build the Test GUI just for your own testing on your own computer, then the easiest method is to install Fox-Toolkit using ports:

sudo port install fox

If you wish to build the TestGUI app bundle to redistribute to others, you will need to install Fox-toolkit from source. This is because the version of fox that gets installed using ports uses the ports X11 libraries which are not compatible with the Apple X11 libraries. If you install Fox with ports and then try to distribute your built app bundle, it will simply fail to run on other systems. To install Fox-Toolkit manually, download the source package from, extract it, and run the following from within the extracted source:

./configure && make && make install


On Windows, if you want to build the test GUI, you will need to get the package from the download site. This contains pre-built binaries for Fox-toolkit. Extract just outside of hidapi, so that hidapi-externals and hidapi are on the same level, as shown:


Again, this step is not required if you do not wish to build the test GUI.

Building HIDAPI into a shared library on Unix Platforms:

On Unix-like systems such as Linux, FreeBSD, macOS, and even Windows, using MinGW or Cygwin, the easiest way to build a standard system-installed shared library is to use the GNU Autotools build system. If you checked out the source from the git repository, run the following:

make install # as root, or using sudo

If you downloaded a source package (i.e.: if you did not run git clone), you can skip the ./bootstrap step.

./configure can take several arguments which control the build. The two most likely to be used are:

		Enable build of the Test GUI. This requires Fox toolkit to
		be installed.  Instructions for installing Fox-Toolkit on
		each platform are in the Prerequisites section above.

		Specify where you want the output headers and libraries to
		be installed. The example above will put the headers in
		/usr/include and the binaries in /usr/lib. The default is to
		install into /usr/local which is fine on most systems.

Building the manual way on Unix platforms:

Manual Makefiles are provided mostly to give the user and idea what it takes to build a program which embeds HIDAPI directly inside of it. These should really be used as examples only. If you want to build a system-wide shared library, use the Autotools method described above.

To build HIDAPI using the manual Makefiles, change to the directory of your platform and run make. For example, on Linux run:

cd linux/
make -f Makefile-manual

To build the Test GUI using the manual makefiles:

cd testgui/
make -f Makefile-manual

Building on Windows:

To build the HIDAPI DLL on Windows using Visual Studio, build the .sln file in the windows/ directory.

To build the Test GUI on windows using Visual Studio, build the .sln file in the testgui/ directory.

To build HIDAPI using MinGW or Cygwin using Autotools, use the instructions in the section Building HIDAPI into a shared library on Unix Platforms above. Note that building the Test GUI with MinGW or Cygwin will require the Windows procedure in the Prerequisites section above (i.e.:

To build HIDAPI using MinGW using the Manual Makefiles, see the section Building the manual way on Unix platforms above.

HIDAPI can also be built using the Windows DDK (now also called the Windows Driver Kit or WDK). This method was originally required for the HIDAPI build but not anymore. However, some users still prefer this method. It is not as well supported anymore but should still work. Patches are welcome if it does not. To build using the DDK:

  1. Install the Windows Driver Kit (WDK) from Microsoft.
  2. From the Start menu, in the Windows Driver Kits folder, select Build Environments, then your operating system, then the x86 Free Build Environment (or one that is appropriate for your system).
  3. From the console, change directory to the windows/ddk_build/ directory, which is part of the HIDAPI distribution.
  4. Type build.
  5. You can find the output files (DLL and LIB) in a subdirectory created by the build system which is appropriate for your environment. On Windows XP, this directory is objfre_wxp_x86/i386.

Cross Compiling

This section talks about cross compiling HIDAPI for Linux using Autotools. This is useful for using HIDAPI on embedded Linux targets. These instructions assume the most raw kind of embedded Linux build, where all prerequisites will need to be built first. This process will of course vary based on your embedded Linux build system if you are using one, such as OpenEmbedded or Buildroot.

For the purpose of this section, it will be assumed that the following environment variables are exported.

$ export STAGING=$HOME/out
$ export HOST=arm-linux

STAGING and HOST can be modified to suit your setup.


Note that the build of libudev is the very basic configuration.

Build libusb. From the libusb source directory, run:

./configure --host=$HOST --prefix=$STAGING
make install

Build libudev. From the libudev source directory, run:

./configure --disable-gudev --disable-introspection --disable-hwdb \
	 --host=$HOST --prefix=$STAGING
make install

Building HIDAPI


PKG_CONFIG_LIBDIR=$STAGING/lib/pkgconfig:$STAGING/share/pkgconfig \
./configure --host=$HOST --prefix=$STAGING
You can’t perform that action at this time.