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How to build the Nextcloud desktop client on Windows

This allows you to easily build the desktop client for 64-bit and 32-bit Windows.

Update: 2020-09-08

MSI build support:

Update: 2020-08-21

Build support for NC 3.0:

Update: 2020-07-22

Upgrade / new default version:

  • Qt 5.12.9

The previous patch of the Qt 5.12.8 include file is not required anymore :)

Update: 2020-07-16

Added new option to build the Updater (disabled by default):

BUILD_UPDATER=ON ./build.bat Release

Update: 2020-06-20

When building from a tag it is best to set PULL_DESKTOP to 0:

TAG_DESKTOP=v2.7.0-beta1 PULL_DESKTOP=0 ./build.bat Release

Otherwise the build might exit with the following error:

You are not currently on a branch.
Please specify which branch you want to merge with.

Update: 2020-06-13

The VC Runtime redistributable filenames have changed in VS 2019.

If you still want to use VS 2017 you may have to change them, see:

Update: 2020-06-11

Upgrades / new default versions:

  • Qt 5.12.8
  • OpenSSL 1.1.1g
  • Visual Studio 2019 (and 2017) support
  • can build Desktop client series 2.6 and 2.7 (QML)

Note: You need to patch an include file of Qt 5.12.8 for use with MSVC, see:

Patched file:

Also note that the Qt Maintenance tool now requires you to register an Qt Account (free).

VS2019 is now default, if you want to use 2017, set: VS_VERSION=2017

Update: 2019-09-27

Upgrades / new default versions:

  • Qt 5.12.5
  • OpenSSL 1.1.1d

Update: 2019-08-18

Qt 5.12.4 and up for Windows don't require the old 1.0.x DLL's anymore (libeay32.dll + ssleay32.dll) and is linked against OpenSSL 1.1.1

This finally removes the odd mixture of diverging DLL versions. Now the Desktop Client finally uses OpenSSL 1.1.1 components only, reports the correct library version and also supports TLS 1.3 :-)

See here for details:

  • Code Signing of the client binaries (exe + dll's), the installer and the uninstaller
  • Uploading the generated installer package via SSH connection (scp)
  • Script file to be invoked by the Windows Task Scheduler for automatic builds (e.g.: daily)

Included and fully automated

  • Build client for 64-bit and 32-bit Windows (+ installer package containing both)
  • Code Signing of the client binaries (exe + dll's), the installer and the uninstaller
  • Uploading the generated installer package via SSH connection (scp)
  • Script file to be invoked by the Windows Task Scheduler for automatic builds (e.g.: daily)


  • Everybody should be able to build the Windows client, the build scripts and guide here should help to make this a pain-free experience.
  • It's designed to be a drop-in replacement for the existing build scripts, used to create the official Nextcloud releases.

System requirements

  • Windows 10 / 8 / 7, 64-bit (bare metal or virtual machine, Win 10 + Win 7 successfully tested)
  • All the tools from the Install list below
  • Internet connection for each build
  • At least 10 GB disk space for the build files and more gigs for the required tools


  • Code Signing certificate, if you intend to sign the binaries (you may use a self-generated one for testing)
  • SSH server and credentials for the upload to work


Assumed working folder

  • C:\Nextcloud

  • Create folders:

    • C:\Nextcloud
    • C:\Nextcloud\tools
  • Warning: Don't use white spaces in the build (project) paths, since this breaks support for some tools like png2ico !

  • If you prefer to, you may specify a project directory outside of the cloned client-building repo.

Install list

NSIS (Nullsoft Scriptable Install System)

NSIS plugins to install

To build MSI installers:

  • Above NSIS is not required, without NSIS set: BUILD_INSTALLER=0
  • MSI is available with NC 3.0.2 and up
  • Install the WiX Toolset build tools:

To upload builds

Build the client: Initial setup

This has to be done ONLY ONCE to create the build folder structure and fetch the required repos (qtkeychain, zlib and Nextcloud's desktop):

  • Open Git Bash:

    cd /c/Nextcloud
    git clone client-building
  • Take a look at this file and adapt the environment variables to your needs. You may also define them in the Windows Environment Variables settings, if you don't want modify the file directly:

    • C:\Nextcloud\client-building\
  • Again in Git Bash:

    cd client-building
  • Recommended: Do a test run to check for all the required environment variables:

    TEST_RUN=1 ./build.bat

    Note: This only tests for the existence of all variables, no other file or folder checks will be perfomed.

If the real build fails the scripts will stop and return an error code which is pretty helpful for automated builds. It appears for example in the Task Scheduler. The console output or the log file (only with task-build-log.bat) ease tracing the error's source.

However they complain if there are missing environment variables in order to save time, so you don't have to wait for half completion of the build. ;-)

Build the client: Perform the actual build

When the initial setup is done, only the following needs to be done if you want to build the client at any time later:

  • In Git Bash again:

    • OR instead, if you want the output in a log file:
  • By default the commands above will build Release for 64-bit and 32-bit.

Specifying build types (Release, Debug)

  • Examples:

    ./build.bat Release
    ./task-build-log.bat Debug
  • To build Release, collect all files but build no installer, don't sign and don't upload:


Explanation of the build scripts

You may run any of them directly if build.bat failed and you resolved the error. But they need to be run in the correct order above and all the previous scripts should have succeeded. Parameter syntax is the same as for build.bat.

These scripts contain a loop which invoke their single-build-*.bat helpers and they also set the required environment variables you normally would have to specify manually. Exception: build-installer-exe.bat doesn't need a loop since it builds a combined installer package, so there is no single-build-installer-exe.bat.

Of course you could do this, e.g. calling syntax to only build for 32-bit would be:

./single-build-desktop.bat Release Win32

Upon every new invocation the build scripts fetch the newest version of their repo.

Take a look at the scripts if you want to know how they work, which resources they collect and the CMake options and generators they use.

  • init.bat

    • clones the GitHub repos and creates required directories

    • sets all required variables if not already present in the environment

    • determines the build type (Release or Debug) and sets the CMake generator
  • +

    • provide a locale-independent way to get a unified build date instead of using %DATE%
  • build-installer-collect.bat

    • collects all required libraries and resources the client needs at runtime (Qt, Qt Keychain, zlib, OpenSSL, VC Redist, etc.)
  • task-build-log.bat

    • is intended to by used in conjunction with the Windows Task Scheduler but may also be run manually instead of build.bat, which shows all the output in the console window only

    • is the actual script to be specified in the Windows Task Scheduler to be run by Git Bash
  • sign.bat

    • used for signing the binaries, the installer and the uninstaller
  • upload.bat

    • used for uploading the installer package to a server (using scp)

Task Scheduler

Use the following values in a new task:

  • Action: Start a program
    • Program/script: "C:\Program Files\Git\bin\sh.exe"
    • Arguments: C:\Nextcloud\client-building\ Release
    • Start in: C:\Nextcloud\client-building


  • Action: Start a program
    • Program/script: cmd
    • Arguments: /c ""C:\Program Files\Git\bin\sh.exe" C:\Nextcloud\client-building\ Release"
    • Start in: C:\Nextcloud\client-building

Which binaries get signed?

  • The following binaries get signed by build-installer-collect.bat as we're responsible for them or they're critical for security and privacy:
    • all the binaries we produce:
      • nextcloud/ocsync.dll
      • shellext/NCContextMenu.dll
      • shellext/NCOverlays.dll
      • nextcloud.exe
      • nextcloudcmd.exe
      • nextcloudsync.dll
      • ocsync.dll
      • OCUtil.dll
      • qt5keychain.dll
      • zlib.dll
    • the pre-compiled OpenSSL binaries (since they are not signed but integrity is crucial)
      • libcrypto*.dll
      • libssl*.dll
    • we don't sign Qt, as of version 5.12.4 binaries are now signed by the Qt team
    • VC Runtime DLL's are already signed by Microsoft


Copyright (c) 2019 Michael Schuster
Parts based on work at:

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or
(at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but
WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY
or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License
for more details.


πŸ— Build scripts for the desktop client



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