Make building with cmake verbose

Ever wanted to get more information out of a build process controlled by CMake?
We sure did and this is how we did it:

Option 1 – Change your CMakeLists.txt files

As our first option, we present updating your CMakeLists.txt file to include the following configuration line:


This option by itself is enough to enable verbosity.
A caveat with this option is that the configuration is not passed on to other CMakeLists.txt files that are included to the build using the command add_subdirectory () from the master CMakeLists.txt file.
Thus, you need to copy the configuration file to each CMakeLists.txt file you want to be verbose.

Option 2 – Add the variable VERBOSE=1 to your make command

Assuming you are using a terminal and you are in the folder where you want to build your project.
After you execute the command

cmake $path_to_project_source;

execute your make command using the VERBOSE=1 variable as follows

make VERBOSE=1;

The caveat of this solution is that EVERYTHING becomes verbose, so you could have too many output data.

Option 3 – Add the variable -DCMAKE_VERBOSE_MAKEFILE:BOOL=ON to your cmake command

Adding the option -DCMAKE_VERBOSE_MAKEFILE:BOOL=ON to the cmake command, it will enable verbosity on all generated Makefiles permanently.
So, assuming you are in the folder where you want to make the build, execute the following to generate the Makefiles:

cmake -DCMAKE_VERBOSE_MAKEFILE:BOOL=ON $path_to_project_source;

and then just issue make to perform the build with verbose output.
Please note, you cannot disable verbose output using make VERBOSE=0 after you enable it through cmake, you need to execute the cmake command again without the -DCMAKE_VERBOSE_MAKEFILE:BOOL=ON option.


To remove the ‘building’ and ‘linking’ lines from the output


[ 10%] Building C object libs/segmentation/CMakeFiles/segments.dir/list_helpers.c.o
[ 30%] Linking C static library libsegments.a

add the option -DCMAKE_RULE_MESSAGES:BOOL=OFF to your cmake command to disable them.

cmake -DCMAKE_RULE_MESSAGES:BOOL=OFF $path_to_project_source;

To remove the ‘Entering directory’ and ‘Leaving directory’ lines from the output


make[2]: Leaving directory '/home/george/Projects/3rd Party/segments222bit/cmake-build-debug'
make[2]: Entering directory '/home/george/Projects/3rd Party/segments222bit/cmake-build-debug'

add the option --no-print-directory to your make command to disable them.

make --no-print-directory;

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