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target_link_libraries

Specify libraries or flags to use when linking a given target and/or its dependents. Usage requirements <Target Usage Requirements> from linked library targets will be propagated. Usage requirements of a target's dependencies affect compilation of its own sources.

Overview

This command has several signatures as detailed in subsections below. All of them have the general form:

target_link_libraries(<target> ... <item>... ...)

The named <target> must have been created in the current directory by a command such as add_executable or add_library. Repeated calls for the same <target> append items in the order called. Each <item> may be:

Items containing ::, such as Foo::Bar, are assumed to be IMPORTED <Imported Targets> or ALIAS <Alias Targets> library target names and will cause an error if no such target exists. See policy CMP0028.

Arguments to target_link_libraries may use "generator expressions" with the syntax $<...>. Note however, that generator expressions will not be used in OLD handling of CMP0003 or CMP0004. See the cmake-generator-expressions(7) manual for available expressions. See the cmake-buildsystem(7) manual for more on defining buildsystem properties.

Libraries for a Target and/or its Dependents

target_link_libraries(<target>
                      <PRIVATE|PUBLIC|INTERFACE> <item>...
                     [<PRIVATE|PUBLIC|INTERFACE> <item>...]...)

The PUBLIC, PRIVATE and INTERFACE keywords can be used to specify both the link dependencies and the link interface in one command. Libraries and targets following PUBLIC are linked to, and are made part of the link interface. Libraries and targets following PRIVATE are linked to, but are not made part of the link interface. Libraries following INTERFACE are appended to the link interface and are not used for linking <target>.

Libraries for both a Target and its Dependents

target_link_libraries(<target> <item>...)

Library dependencies are transitive by default with this signature. When this target is linked into another target then the libraries linked to this target will appear on the link line for the other target too. This transitive "link interface" is stored in the :prop_tgt:INTERFACE_LINK_LIBRARIES target property and may be overridden by setting the property directly. When CMP0022 is not set to NEW, transitive linking is built in but may be overridden by the :prop_tgt:LINK_INTERFACE_LIBRARIES property. Calls to other signatures of this command may set the property making any libraries linked exclusively by this signature private.

Libraries for a Target and/or its Dependents (Legacy)

target_link_libraries(<target>
                      <LINK_PRIVATE|LINK_PUBLIC> <lib>...
                     [<LINK_PRIVATE|LINK_PUBLIC> <lib>...]...)

The LINK_PUBLIC and LINK_PRIVATE modes can be used to specify both the link dependencies and the link interface in one command.

This signature is for compatibility only. Prefer the PUBLIC or PRIVATE keywords instead.

Libraries and targets following LINK_PUBLIC are linked to, and are made part of the :prop_tgt:INTERFACE_LINK_LIBRARIES. If policy CMP0022 is not NEW, they are also made part of the :prop_tgt:LINK_INTERFACE_LIBRARIES. Libraries and targets following LINK_PRIVATE are linked to, but are not made part of the :prop_tgt:INTERFACE_LINK_LIBRARIES (or :prop_tgt:LINK_INTERFACE_LIBRARIES).

Libraries for Dependents Only (Legacy)

target_link_libraries(<target> LINK_INTERFACE_LIBRARIES <item>...)

The LINK_INTERFACE_LIBRARIES mode appends the libraries to the :prop_tgt:INTERFACE_LINK_LIBRARIES target property instead of using them for linking. If policy CMP0022 is not NEW, then this mode also appends libraries to the :prop_tgt:LINK_INTERFACE_LIBRARIES and its per-configuration equivalent.

This signature is for compatibility only. Prefer the INTERFACE mode instead.

Libraries specified as debug are wrapped in a generator expression to correspond to debug builds. If policy CMP0022 is not NEW, the libraries are also appended to the :prop_tgt:LINK_INTERFACE_LIBRARIES_DEBUG <LINK_INTERFACE_LIBRARIES_<CONFIG>> property (or to the properties corresponding to configurations listed in the :prop_gbl:DEBUG_CONFIGURATIONS global property if it is set). Libraries specified as optimized are appended to the :prop_tgt:INTERFACE_LINK_LIBRARIES property. If policy CMP0022 is not NEW, they are also appended to the :prop_tgt:LINK_INTERFACE_LIBRARIES property. Libraries specified as general (or without any keyword) are treated as if specified for both debug and optimized.

Cyclic Dependencies of Static Libraries

The library dependency graph is normally acyclic (a DAG), but in the case of mutually-dependent STATIC libraries CMake allows the graph to contain cycles (strongly connected components). When another target links to one of the libraries, CMake repeats the entire connected component. For example, the code

add_library(A STATIC a.c)
add_library(B STATIC b.c)
target_link_libraries(A B)
target_link_libraries(B A)
add_executable(main main.c)
target_link_libraries(main A)

links main to A B A B. While one repetition is usually sufficient, pathological object file and symbol arrangements can require more. One may handle such cases by using the :prop_tgt:LINK_INTERFACE_MULTIPLICITY target property or by manually repeating the component in the last target_link_libraries call. However, if two archives are really so interdependent they should probably be combined into a single archive, perhaps by using Object Libraries.

Creating Relocatable Packages