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Describes the process for downloading and installing the freeware program MinGW, typically used by Computer Engineering and Computer Science students

Step-by-step guide

Installing MinGW is not the most straightforward process, but it is easily managed by following the steps outlined below.

  • Visit the MinGW homepage at and choose the Downloads link from the Navigation panel on the left-hand side of the page.

  • Click the blue Download button to start the download.

  • Run the installer once it has finished downloading.

  • The executable you have downloaded is NOT the MinGW program itself, but rather an installation manager called mingw-get that organizes the packages you wish to install.

  • Install the mingw-get tool with the default settings.

  • Allow the installation manager to finish running, then click Continue.

  • Left-click the checkboxes next to the packages you wish to include in your MinGW installation and choose Mark for installation from the resultant drop-down menu.

  • Mark at least the mingw32-base,msys-base, and mingw32-gcc-g++ (C/C++) repositories for installation; mark the ada, fortran, and/or objective-c repositories as well, if you intend to use those libraries.

  • Open the Installation menu from the upper-left corner of the window and choose Apply changes.

  • Click the Apply button on the next screen to begin downloading and installing all of the necessary packages for MinGW to run.

To open the MinGW shell, browse to C:\MinGW\msys\1.0\ and run the file called msys.bat

You may wish to create a shortcut to this file in order to avoid having to browse to the file location in the future.

You may leave the mingw-get installation tool on your PC to facilitate package updates in the future, or you may remove it without impacting MinGW's functionality.

If you install OrCAD Lite on the same computer after you install MinGW, you may need to change the default path in MinGW's profile file. You can do this regardless of whether OrCAD Lite is installed to permanently set your default home directory as well.

Open the file C:\MinGW\msys\1.0\etc\profile using a text editor, such as Notepad++. The very last line should read cd "$HOME" by default. Change the text inside the quotation marks to a folder of your choosing, using Linux-recognized forward slashes (/) in the path name, rather than Windows-recognized backslashes (\). For example, you might define the default path as "C:/Users/jsmith/Desktop/ECE251" if you have a folder on your Desktop for that course.

Some users have experienced an issue in which an overzealous antivirus program deletes their compiled code. For example, you might compile helloworld.c using MinGW, and see that the resulting a.exe file gets instantaneously deleted by the antivirus, which mistakenly identifies it is a harmful file. If this happens, you can either try to create an entry in your antivirus's exemption list or uninstall the antivirus and replace it with any number of free alternatives.

Still need help?

For additional assistance, contact the Director of Engineering Information Systems at (219) 464-5122 or via e-mail at