Skip to main content

Build Instructions

Follow the guidelines below for building Electron itself, for the purposes of creating custom Electron binaries. For bundling and distributing your app code with the prebuilt Electron binaries, see the application distribution guide.

Platform prerequisites

Check the build prerequisites for your platform before proceeding

Build Tools

Electron's Build Tools automate much of the setup for compiling Electron from source with different configurations and build targets. If you wish to set up the environment manually, the instructions are listed below.

Electron uses GN for project generation and ninja for building. Project configurations can be found in the .gn and .gni files.

GN Files

The following gn files contain the main rules for building Electron:

  • defines how Electron itself is built and includes the default configurations for linking with Chromium.
  • build/args/{testing,release,all}.gn contain the default build arguments for building Electron.

GN prerequisites

You'll need to install depot_tools, the toolset used for fetching Chromium and its dependencies.

Also, on Windows, you'll need to set the environment variable DEPOT_TOOLS_WIN_TOOLCHAIN=0. To do so, open Control PanelSystem and SecuritySystemAdvanced system settings and add a system variable DEPOT_TOOLS_WIN_TOOLCHAIN with value 0. This tells depot_tools to use your locally installed version of Visual Studio (by default, depot_tools will try to download a Google-internal version that only Googlers have access to).

Setting up the git cache

If you plan on checking out Electron more than once (for example, to have multiple parallel directories checked out to different branches), using the git cache will speed up subsequent calls to gclient. To do this, set a GIT_CACHE_PATH environment variable:

$ export GIT_CACHE_PATH="${HOME}/.git_cache"
$ mkdir -p "${GIT_CACHE_PATH}"
# This will use about 16G.

Getting the code

$ mkdir electron && cd electron
$ gclient config --name "src/electron" --unmanaged
$ gclient sync --with_branch_heads --with_tags
# This will take a while, go get a coffee.

Instead of, you can use your own fork here (something like<username>/electron).

A note on pulling/pushing

If you intend to git pull or git push from the official electron repository in the future, you now need to update the respective folder's origin URLs.

$ cd src/electron
$ git remote remove origin
$ git remote add origin
$ git checkout main
$ git branch --set-upstream-to=origin/main
$ cd -

📝 gclient works by checking a file called DEPS inside the src/electron folder for dependencies (like Chromium or Node.js). Running gclient sync -f ensures that all dependencies required to build Electron match that file.

So, in order to pull, you'd run the following commands:

$ cd src/electron
$ git pull
$ gclient sync -f


Set the environment variable for chromium build tools

On Linux & MacOS

$ cd src
$ export CHROMIUM_BUILDTOOLS_PATH=`pwd`/buildtools

On Windows:

# cmd
$ cd src
$ set CHROMIUM_BUILDTOOLS_PATH=%cd%\buildtools

# PowerShell
$ cd src
$ $env:CHROMIUM_BUILDTOOLS_PATH = "$(Get-Location)\buildtools"

To generate Testing build config of Electron:

On Linux & MacOS

$ gn gen out/Testing --args="import(\"//electron/build/args/\")"

On Windows:

# cmd
$ gn gen out/Testing --args="import(\"//electron/build/args/\")"

# PowerShell
gn gen out/Testing --args="import(\`"//electron/build/args/\`")"

To generate Release build config of Electron:

On Linux & MacOS

$ gn gen out/Release --args="import(\"//electron/build/args/\")"

On Windows:

# cmd
$ gn gen out/Release --args="import(\"//electron/build/args/\")"

# PowerShell
$ gn gen out/Release --args="import(\`"//electron/build/args/\`")"

Note: This will generate a out/Testing or out/Release build directory under src/ with the testing or release build depending upon the configuration passed above. You can replace Testing|Release with another names, but it should be a subdirectory of out.

Also you shouldn't have to run gn gen again—if you want to change the build arguments, you can run gn args out/Testing to bring up an editor. To see the list of available build configuration options, run gn args out/Testing --list.

To build, run ninja with the electron target: Note: This will also take a while and probably heat up your lap.

For the testing configuration:

$ ninja -C out/Testing electron

For the release configuration:

$ ninja -C out/Release electron

This will build all of what was previously 'libchromiumcontent' (i.e. the content/ directory of chromium and its dependencies, incl. Blink and V8), so it will take a while.

The built executable will be under ./out/Testing:

$ ./out/Testing/
# or, on Windows
$ ./out/Testing/electron.exe
# or, on Linux
$ ./out/Testing/electron


On linux, first strip the debugging and symbol information:

$ electron/script/ -d out/Release

To package the electron build as a distributable zip file:

$ ninja -C out/Release electron:electron_dist_zip


To compile for a platform that isn't the same as the one you're building on, set the target_cpu and target_os GN arguments. For example, to compile an x86 target from an x64 host, specify target_cpu = "x86" in gn args.

$ gn gen out/Testing-x86 --args='... target_cpu = "x86"'

Not all combinations of source and target CPU/OS are supported by Chromium.

Windows x64Windows arm64Experimental
Windows x64Windows x86Automatically tested
Linux x64Linux x86Automatically tested

If you test other combinations and find them to work, please update this document :)

See the GN reference for allowable values of target_os and target_cpu.

Windows on Arm (experimental)

To cross-compile for Windows on Arm, follow Chromium's guide to get the necessary dependencies, SDK and libraries, then build with ELECTRON_BUILDING_WOA=1 in your environment before running gclient sync.

gclient sync -f --with_branch_heads --with_tags

Or (if using PowerShell):

gclient sync -f --with_branch_heads --with_tags

Next, run gn gen as above with target_cpu="arm64".


To run the tests, you'll first need to build the test modules against the same version of Node.js that was built as part of the build process. To generate build headers for the modules to compile against, run the following under src/ directory.

$ ninja -C out/Testing electron:node_headers

You can now run the tests.

If you're debugging something, it can be helpful to pass some extra flags to the Electron binary:

$ npm run test -- \
--enable-logging -g 'BrowserWindow module'

Sharing the git cache between multiple machines

It is possible to share the gclient git cache with other machines by exporting it as SMB share on linux, but only one process/machine can be using the cache at a time. The locks created by git-cache script will try to prevent this, but it may not work perfectly in a network.

On Windows, SMBv2 has a directory cache that will cause problems with the git cache script, so it is necessary to disable it by setting the registry key


to 0. More information:

This can be set quickly in powershell (ran as administrator):

New-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Lanmanworkstation\Parameters" -Name DirectoryCacheLifetime -Value 0 -PropertyType DWORD -Force


gclient sync complains about rebase

If gclient sync is interrupted the git tree may be left in a bad state, leading to a cryptic message when running gclient sync in the future:

2> Conflict while rebasing this branch.
2> Fix the conflict and run gclient again.
2> See man git-rebase for details.

If there are no git conflicts or rebases in src/electron, you may need to abort a git am in src:

$ cd ../
$ git am --abort
$ cd electron
$ gclient sync -f

This may also happen if you have checked out a branch (as opposed to having a detached head) in electron/src/ or some other dependency’s repository. If that is the case, a git checkout --detach HEAD in the appropriate repository should do the trick.

I'm being asked for a username/password for

If you see a prompt for Username for '': when running gclient sync on Windows, it's probably because the DEPOT_TOOLS_WIN_TOOLCHAIN environment variable is not set to 0. Open Control PanelSystem and SecuritySystemAdvanced system settings and add a system variable DEPOT_TOOLS_WIN_TOOLCHAIN with value 0. This tells depot_tools to use your locally installed version of Visual Studio (by default, depot_tools will try to download a Google-internal version that only Googlers have access to).

e Module not found

If e is not recognized despite running npm i -g @electron/build-tools, ie:

Error: Cannot find module '/Users/<user>/.electron_build_tools/src/e'

We recommend installing Node through nvm. This allows for easier Node version management, and is often a fix for missing e modules.