Import an existing project

Import existing projects that do not use CMake, qmake, or one of the other directly supported build tools to use Qt Creator as a code editor and to fully control the steps and commands for building the project. To change the way the project is built, change the make command in the Projects mode under Build Settings.

With the following files, you can specify which files belong to your project and which include directories or defines to pass to your compiler: .files, .includes, and .config.

To import an existing generic project:

  1. Select File > New Project > Import Project > Import Existing Project.
  2. In Import Existing Project, enter the project name and select the location of the project file you want to import.

    Qt Creator automatically generates the following files in the project directory and shows them in the Projects view:

    • .files
    • .includes
    • .config
    • .creator
    • .cflags
    • .cxxflags

The .creator file is considered the project file, so you need to open it when you want to open the project later.

Specify files

For a generic project, you have to manually specify which files belong to your project in the .files file. When you import a generic project, Qt Creator adds any files it recognizes to your project.

To add or remove files, edit the .files file in Qt Creator. Qt Creator updates the contents of Projects when you save the .files file. Or, use the context menu in Projects to add and remove files or directories.

Use a script

If you frequently need to update the .files file, use a script. If the file is modified externally, you have to close and reopen the project for the changes to take effect.

To update the .files file in the Git repository, use the following script:

git ls-files "*.cpp" "*.h" > MyProject.files

Precompiled headers

To use precompiled headers in a generic project, add the pch tag after a file path in the .files file, separated by the pipe character (|). For example:


Specify include paths and framework paths

Specify include paths in the .includes file, one include path per line. The paths can be either absolute or relative to the .includes file.

Lines starting with -F are interpreted as framework paths.

Specify defines

Specify defines in the .config file. It is a regular C++ file, prepended to all your source files when they are parsed. Only use the .config file to add lines as in the example below:

#define NAME value

Forward flags to Clang code model

The .cxxflags and .cflags files have command-line flags for the Clang code model on a single line.

For example, add the -std=c++11 line to set the language version for parsing as C++11.

Provide deployment information

To run an application on a remote Linux device, you first need to deploy your executable and possibly other files. Qt Creator does that for you automatically if you enter the necessary information. This works the same way as explained for CMake in Deploying to Remote Linux, except that you also need to include your application binary in the list.

Create a run configuration

Qt Creator cannot automatically determine which executable to run, so you must set the executable in Projects > Run > Add > Custom Executable.

See also Specify a custom executable to run, Use project wizards, and Configuring Projects.

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