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Call Windows APIs in C/C++ using MinGW
Notes on installing gcc on Windows and calling Windows APIs in C/C++.

Call Windows APIs with C++ using MinGW

This can be accomplished without Cygwin/MSYS.

Example Program

Let's assume we want to build the following program test.c. It displays a message box, sleeps for two seconds and displays another message box.

Using #include <windows.h> enables us to call Windows APIs.

#include <windows.h>

// MessageBox:
// Sleep:

int main(void)
    MessageBox(NULL, "test", "test", 0x20);
    MessageBox(NULL, "test2", "test2", 0x06);
    return 0;


  1. Download the installer from
  2. Run the installer. Select Native Windows and i686 arch.
  3. Choose a path for 32-bit installation. For example: c:\mingw\x86.
  4. Click on Process to start downloading.
  5. If there's an error during a download, the tool will just stop. If the tools is not doing anything for a while, check the errors in command prompt. If this happens:
    • Close the installer.
    • Navigate to c:\mingw\x86\ and run yypkg-1.5.0.exe (version number might be different).
    • Click on Process again to continue downloading.
    • Rinse and repeat until everything is downloaded
  6. Go back to step 2, re-run the installer. Select Native Windows and x86_64.
  7. Choose a path for 64-bit installation (must be on a Windows 64-bit machine). For example c:\mingw\x64.
  8. Follow steps 4 and 5 until everything is installed.
  9. Now we can build the program for both architectures (switches are optional).
    • 32-bit:
      • cd c:\mingw\x86\bin
      • c:\mingw\x86\bin\> gcc.exe -g c:\path\to\test.c -o c:\path\to\test-32.exe -w -mwindows
    • 64-bit:
      • cd c:\mingw\x64\bin
      • c:\mingw\x64\bin\> gcc.exe -g c:\path\to\test.c -o c:\path\to\test-32.exe -w -mwindows
  10. If you see yourself building only one architecture, add the corresponding bin directory to PATH.

Using MinGW (32-bit)

  1. Install MinGW setup:
  2. Install mingw32-gcc-g++ using the package manager.
  3. Add C:\MinGW\bin to PATH.
  4. Do gcc -g test.cpp -o text.exe -w -mwindows (mix and match switches).