Top 9 Free IDEs for C and C++ Programming (Develop like a Pro)

C and C++ are the cement on which many bricks stand Python is high-level programming that is influenced by C languages. They are also the foundation languages for many like Java, JavaScript, Perl and PHP. IDEs are what powers developers to save time and put their code together so they can save some time by using ready-made templates. This is why you should only consider the best C and C++ IDEs for Windows 10 or 11 to install.

C/C++ are general-purpose languages that are not only the basis for others but are also used today. For Example, C is quite an old language that has been used to give power to powerful platforms such as Linux, Android and Windows.

C++ on the other hand uses the bottom-up approach which sees programmers use a low-level design in order to achieve good results. It has always been used to write down the most popular used technologies such as Adobe Systems, MySQL, Google apps such as Chrome Browser and Enterprise software.

The 9 Best IDEs for C and C++ Programming (that are Free)

Code::Blocks – The top IDE for C++ code

This is an open-source IDE developed using wxWidgets; It is a graphical user interface toolkit. It provides support to Windows, Linux and macOS. You can make your own contributions to Code::Blocks by adding new features according to the needs you feel may help other users too. Be sure to add value though!

Coming to features then it is extensible which means it can meet your demands. You benefit from having a consistent look, feel and operation on all platforms.

Download Code::Blocks

ALSO SEE: Download Visual Studio Community Free IDE for Windows.

Dev-C++ (Bloodshed Dev-C)

This is an IDE for C++ which is full of features while also boasting an impressive feature set. It provides support to Windows OS only. Regardless of all the limitations it still includes support for GCC-based compilers such as MinGW and Cygwin.

Moreover, it comes with an integrated debugger through gdb, international support, code compilation and a simple and effective syntax highlighter.

Download Dev-C++

GNAT Studio – Makes debugging easier

This is yet another free and open-source IDE that supports different programming languages including C or C++. It has been written down in Ada and uses TK+ thus giving it the ability to run on a wide assortment of programs such as macOS, Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris and Windows.

It also provides support for debugging and cross-compilation and can be extended through plug-ins that are written down in Python language.

Download GNAT Studio

CodeLite IDE – A great alternative to paid options

This is seemed to be one of the best IDE used for code refactoring; it comes free and is an open-source IDE. Provides support to Windows and Mac OS. Moreover, it provides better support for compilers which come with an in-built for GCC, Clang and Visual C++.

Now, it is a great option if you want to test and debug in C++ as it comes in free and has lightweight features. It also uses wxWidgets toolkits and you can debug as well as compile using free tools such as MinGW and GNU debugger. You shall see that it provides great support for compilers by providing hints on errors just as you click on them.

Download CodeLite IDE

CLion (CL) by Jetbrains

This was developed by JetBrains and is a highly recommended platform that provides support to macOS, Linux and Windows which are integrated with the Cmake build system.

If you want to get it then keep in mind that it is a paid IDE and requires buying a respective subscription to proceed. For free you can use its Education and Open Source subscription plan.

It is few among many to allow you to code on a local machine but compile on remote servers. Moreover, it provides support to Embedded Development and can be integrated with Concurrent Versions System (CVS) and Team Foundation Server (TFS).

Download CLion

QTCreator – Open Source and cross-platform

This is another option that is open-source and comes free. It needs a commercial license for experienced developers. It supports Windows, Linux and macOS. With this developers can create mobile and desktop apps and embedded platforms. On Linux, it uses the C++ compiler from the GNU compiler collection.

Now, on windows, it uses MinGW or MSVC with default installation and also uses Microsoft Console Debugger when compiled from the source code.

Download QTCreator

Apache NetBeans 14

This was developed by Apache Software Foundation – Oracle Corporation. It comes free and is open-source. This seems to be one of the best IDE for developers.

Now, this comes with a project window that shall show you projects of existing projects and allow you to create C or C++ apps using dynamic and static libraries. Why it is highly recommended? Due to its better drag and drop functions and also run on different platforms like Windows, Linux, macOS X and Solaris

Download NetBeans 14

C++ Builder

Free C++ Compilers for PC

This was given by Embarcadero, the same company that makes Delphi Pascal Products. It is a cross-platform and proprietary IDE.

It comes with a Clang-enhanced compiler with simple access to provide you with these 4 features:

  • Boost Libraries
  • continuous integration
  • database management
  • version control integration

Note: Only the community version is free.

Download C++ Builder Community Edition

Turbo C++

Borland Turbo C++ was one of the first IDEs developed for C++ back in 1990. It was later discontinued and the developer stopped providing any updates. The first initial release was released for MS-DOS. The successor of this IDE is C++ Builder who is still alive and is receiving updates. However, it is the opposite for Turbo C++.

The most unique identifier of this IDE was the C++ templates that it offered. This helped programmers save a lot of time as they did not have to make them from scratch.

It is popular among educational institutes to teach students the C++ language as it is free and can also be downloaded for Android.

It is now supported by a developer named “NeuTroN”.

Download Turbo C++ Free For Windows 10/11

C Vs C++ Comparison: What are the main differentiators between them?

Choosing between C and C++

If you are a new player in the world of programming then you need to know the differences that matter between C and C++ and which to choose. We discuss and compare the 7 major points of these languages so you can get a better understanding of which one is better at what use and the difference between them.

The Difficult one

If you have a question in your mind that “Is C++ more difficult than C to learn in the beginning?” Then the answer depends on what you want to achieve.

C shall provide you with direct control over memory and hardware. C++ on the other hand comes with the same control but with easy tools. If you are learning the C language then you should be learning the hard way to do things but you would also have much more control over what you do later on.

C and C++ are similar but not the same

This is quite a common curiosity area, for those in confusion C++ is actually C but with classes. It can be seen as a mid-level language that can be written and run fully in C. C does not provide support for object-oriented programming; the lines of code in C do not always show compatibility with C++ programs.

What C++ does is add class and object-oriented programming to the C language. C++ being one can use data encapsulation and information hiding. A variable you can see in C can now be hidden within the class that only certain functions can access. Due to all this C++ comes with good yet better data security than the other, the latter has public variables which can e accessed by malicious code.

Cross-language integration and support

They can be compatible with another language if you use a third-party interface. But due to performance differences running both of these in other programs can slow the process down or even return incorrect code which might lead to other issues in the stage of development.

Functions paradise

It also provides support to operator and function overloading which provides developers the ability to assign custom definitions to specific operators, data and functions, it also uses inline functions for the organization, catches blocks for any error handling as well as references variables. You won’t find any of these features in C.

Their Syntax is similar

Remember that C++ is a superset of C you can run many of the most C code on the C++ compiler. It however can’t run on a normal C compiler. It means you can code in C on a C++ compiler if you want to. Both can be the same except C++ might have extended grammar.

User-defined and Pre-defined Data Types

Both languages are types statically, Only C comes with the support for primitive predefined data types. Keep in mind that these don’t include Boolean or string data types.

Coming to C++ then in this you can create user-defined data types along with the same primitives which exist in the other.

Their uses

As C++ is an extension of the other, both their applications differ greatly. C is used to develop Operating and Embedded systems, Android technology and popular databases.

However, C++ is object-oriented and makes it versatile. With C++ you can program all types of software even the web browser you used to read this article.

The point is, that C++ can be used to create applications that are much smaller in scale whereas C is for big projects such as creating a whole OS.

Other IDE articles you may like:


IDEs are the bones of any programming language. Without an IDE you won’t be able to program and compile your code. Don’t even think about going down the root to make your own! This is why having a good C/C++ IDE installed on your device is paramount. You don’t want the tool to slow down your progress or worse cause unexpected bugs in your code. Oh, and if you are a startup or even a solo developer we’ve made sure to only include free choices so you don’t pay. Happy coding!

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Paul Carruthers
Paul is an avid programmer who specializes in Python and Java with over 16 years of experience in the field. He loves automating complex tasks and creating useful scripts to streamline work and make life easier. He is also a massive fan of Linux and currently uses it as his main desktop OS. When he is not staring at code, he loves hiking and swimming in different parts of the world.


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