C Tutorial



C Tutorial

C Compiler for Windows


C programming is an essential skill for those looking to develop software for various platforms. This tutorial aims to provide you with the path to enter the world of C programming. The first step is downloading a C compiler for Windows, and that is what this tutorial will precisely deal with. 

We’ll go through all the important concepts and ideas related to the C compiler for Windows, including how to download it, how to set it up, how to write your first program in C, and much more. 

Let’s get started!

Importance of Using a C Compiler for Windows

A C compiler for Windows is essential for developing applications for the Windows platform. It ensures compatibility, performance, and optimisation while providing advanced features to make your programming experience seamless.

Types of C Compilers for Windows

Several types of C compilers are available for Windows. Let’s take a look at some of them.

1. GCC (GNU Compiler Collection)

The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) is a popular, open-source compiler suite that supports multiple programming languages, including C, C++, Objective-C, Fortran, Ada, and others. Originally developed as part of the GNU Project, GCC is widely used across different platforms, including Windows. It is known for its efficiency, versatility, and adherence to language standards. You can use GCC on Windows through platforms like Cygwin or MinGW (Minimalist GNU for Windows).

2. Microsoft Visual Studio

Microsoft Visual Studio is an integrated development environment (IDE) that supports various programming languages, including C, C++, C#, and many others. It is a powerful, feature-rich IDE designed for Windows application development. Visual Studio includes Microsoft's Visual C++ compiler, which supports C and C++. It is well-suited for developing Windows applications, as it provides seamless integration with the Windows API and offers a comprehensive set of debugging and diagnostic tools.

3. Clang

Clang is an open-source C compiler that is part of the LLVM (Low-Level Virtual Machine) project. It is designed to be compatible with GCC and provides better diagnostics, faster compilation times, and low memory usage. Clang supports multiple programming languages, including C, C++, Objective-C, and Objective-C++. It is available for Windows and can be used as a standalone compiler or integrated with various development environments.

4. MinGW (Minimalist GNU for Windows)

MinGW is a minimalist development environment for native Windows applications. It provides a lightweight and user-friendly way to use Windows's GNU Compiler Collection (GCC). MinGW includes a port of the GCC compiler, along with other essential development tools and libraries, enabling you to create Windows applications using standard C, C++, and other languages supported by GCC. MinGW is an attractive option for those who prefer a simpler, more streamlined development environment.

5. Digital Mars C/C++ Compiler

The Digital Mars C/C++ Compiler is a set of compilers for the C and C++ programming languages developed by Digital Mars. It is a closed-source compiler, but it is available as a free download for personal and non-commercial use. The Digital Mars compiler offers compatibility with most C and C++ language features and has a reputation for generating fast and efficient code. It comes with an IDE called DMC++ but can also be used with other IDEs or as a standalone compiler.

Source Code Editors 

A source code editor is an essential tool for C programming. It helps you write, edit, and organise your C programming code. Popular source code editors include:

1. Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code (VSCode) is a popular, open-source, and lightweight source code editor developed by Microsoft. It supports various programming languages, including C, C++, etc. VSCode offers many features, such as syntax highlighting, code navigation, built-in Git integration, and debugging capabilities. It also has an extensive library of extensions that can further enhance its functionality and enable support for additional programming languages and tools.

2. Sublime Text

Sublime Text is a powerful, fast cross-platform source code editor supporting multiple programming languages, including C. It offers a clean and minimalist interface, along with features like syntax highlighting, multiple selections, and a "Goto Anything" function for quick file navigation. Sublime Text has a strong community and a rich ecosystem of plugins that can be easily installed via its built-in package manager, adding functionality and support for other languages and tools.

3. Notepad++

Notepad++ is a free, open-source source code editor for Windows. It is designed as a more feature-rich alternative to the default Notepad application that comes with Windows. Notepad++ supports various programming languages, including C, and offers features like syntax highlighting, code folding, auto-completion, and a customisable interface. It is lightweight, fast, and has a large community of users contributing to its development and maintaining an extensive library of plugins.

4. Atom

Atom is a modern, open-source, and customisable source code editor developed by GitHub. It is built with web technologies, making it easily extensible through plugins and themes. Atom supports multiple programming languages, including C, and provides syntax highlighting, code completion, and built-in Git integration features. It also has a package manager for installing additional features and language support. Atom's strong community and extensibility make it a popular choice for developers.

5. Vim

Vim (Vi IMproved) is a highly configurable and powerful text editor known for its keyboard-driven interface and efficient text manipulation capabilities, making it popular among experienced programmers. Vim has a steep learning curve but is appreciated for its efficiency and flexibility, especially for those who prefer working in a terminal environment.

Installing a C Compiler for Windows

Before installing a C compiler for Windows, you must ensure that your system meets the required prerequisites. The most important such system requirements include: 

  • Windows operating system (7 or later)

  • Minimum 1 GB RAM

  • Minimum 2 GB of free hard disk space

Once you have ensured that your system meets the minimum requirements, you can begin downloading any one of the C compilers listed above. 

For this tutorial, let’s take the MinGW compiler. 

Steps for downloading the C compiler for Windows

  • Google the C compiler for Windows that you wish to download – in this case, MinGW.

  • Click on the first result, and arrive at their downloads page.

  • Click on the download button. Your C installer for Windows download should begin after this. 

Installation Steps:

  • Locate the downloaded installer file on your computer.

  • Double-click the installer to start the installation process.

  • Follow the on-screen instructions, including accepting the license agreement and choosing the installation directory.

  • Wait for the installation to complete, and then close the installer.

  • The whole process should take 5-7 minutes, and you should see the following dialogue box while the process is going on:

  • Once the installation process is over, it will show you the following window:

  • From here, select each of the packages and click on ‘Mark for installation’.

  • Once this is done, go to the Installation menu, and click on Apply Changes. A dialogue box will then appear – click on Apply and will download all the packages. This process will take 3-5 minutes.

Using a C Compiler for Windows

Once you have downloaded and installed your C compiler for Windows, the next stop is starting to use the C compiler for creating C codes. Here are some steps that you can take in order to do that. 

Setting up Path Variable (add screenshot)

  • Open the "System Properties" window by right-clicking on "Computer" or "This PC" and select "Properties."

  • Click on "Advanced system settings" on the top.

  • In the "System Properties" window, click on the "Environment Variables" button.

  • Under "System variables," look for the "Path" variable, then click on "Edit."

  • Add your C compiler's installation path to the Windows PATH environment variable, separating it from existing entries with a semicolon.

  • Click "OK" to save the changes and close the window.

Creating a New C File 

  • Open your preferred source code editor – in this case, Sublime Text.

  • Create a fresh file by clicking "File" and then "New" or using the respective keyboard shortcut.

  • Save the new file with a ".c" extension by clicking "File" and then "Save As" and selecting "C Source File" as the file type.

Writing C Code

  • Write your C programming code in the editor, including necessary headers, functions, and statements.

  • Save your code by clicking "File" and then "Save" or using the respective keyboard shortcut.

Compiling and Running the Code

  • Open the command prompt or terminal window on your computer.

  • Navigate to the directory containing your C file using the "cd" command. In this case, the .c file is saved on the Desktop.

  • Use the C compiler command (such as "gcc" for GCC or "cl" for Microsoft Visual Studio) followed by your source file name to compile your code.

  • If there are no errors, an executable file will be created in the same directory.

  • Type the name of your compiled executable file and run it in the terminal or command prompt by pressing Enter. In this case, the name of the executable file is ‘a.exe’. Your program output will be displayed.

Debugging the Code

  • If you encounter errors during the compilation process, examine the error messages displayed in the command prompt or terminal window.

  • Return to your source code editor and locate the lines mentioned in the error messages.

  • Fix the errors in your code, save the changes, and recompile the code.

  • Utilise your editor's built-in debugging tools, if available, to identify and fix errors in your code.

Alternate Method

Installation using CodeBlocks IDE Binary release

  1. Visit the official CodeBlocks website and navigate to the download section.

  2. Download the CodeBlocks IDE binary release with the desired C compiler (e.g., GCC) included.

     Locate the downloaded installer file on your computer and double-click it to start the installation process.

  3. Follow the on-screen instructions, including accepting the license agreement and choosing the installation directory.

  4. Wait for the installation to complete, and then close the installer.

Advanced Features of a C Compiler for Windows

  • Code optimisation: Improves the performance and efficiency of the compiled code.

  • Multi-threading support: Enables concurrent execution of multiple threads within a program.

  • Advanced debugging tools: Provides comprehensive debugging capabilities, such as breakpoints, watch expressions, and call stack navigation.

Troubleshooting Common Issues with C Compilers for Windows

  • Missing or incorrect PATH variable: Ensure that your C compiler's installation path is added correctly to the Windows PATH environment variable.

  • Compiler version conflicts: If multiple versions of a C compiler are installed, ensure that the desired version is used by specifying the appropriate executable in the command prompt or terminal.

  • Incompatible source code editor settings: Check your source code editor's settings and ensure they are compatible with your C compiler, such as specifying the correct build command and output directory.


This tutorial has covered the essential aspects of using a C compiler for Windows, from installation to advanced features. With the right tools and resources, you'll be well on your way to mastering C programming on the Windows platform. Keep practising and exploring various C programming examples and C programming basics to enhance your skills!

While practising through tutorials is an excellent way to strengthen your programming skills, higher education can be an exceptional addition to your skill set. 

Check out upGrad’s Master of Science in Computer Science offered by Liverpool John Moores University, and fast forward your career to keep abreast with the competitive tech industry. With guidance from industry experts and leading faculties, this course offers learners extensive support through video tutorials, case studies, real projects and live sessions, helping you gain a competitive edge!


1. What is the best C compiler for Windows?

There is no definitive "best" compiler, as the choice depends on individual preferences and project requirements. However, GCC and Microsoft Visual Studio are popular choices among C programmers.

2. Can I use multiple C compilers on the same system?

Yes, you can install multiple compilers on your system, but make sure to configure the PATH variable correctly and avoid potential conflicts.

3. How do I update my C compiler for Windows?

Visit the official website of your chosen C compiler and download the latest version. Then, follow the installation steps provided to update your compiler.

4. Are there any free C programming resources available?

Yes, many online resources offer free C programming tutorials, examples, and exercises. You can also find open-source projects on platforms like GitHub to practice and enhance your skills.

5. How do I choose the right source code editor for C programming?

Consider factors like ease of use, platform compatibility, feature set, and community support when selecting a source code editor. Test out a few options to find the one that best suits your needs and preferences.

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