OpenCV  4.9.0
Open Source Computer Vision
OpenCV installation overview

Table of Contents

Next Tutorial: OpenCV configuration options reference

There are two ways of installing OpenCV on your machine: download prebuilt version for your platform or compile from sources.

Prebuilt version

In many cases you can find prebuilt version of OpenCV that will meet your needs.

Packages by OpenCV core team

Packages for Android, iOS and Windows built with default parameters and recent compilers are published for each release, they do not contain opencv_contrib modules.

Third-party packages

Other organizations and people maintain their own binary distributions of OpenCV. For example:

Build from sources

It can happen that existing binary packages are not applicable for your use case, then you'll have to build custom version of OpenCV by yourself. This section gives a high-level overview of the build process, check tutorial for specific platform for actual build instructions.

OpenCV uses CMake build management system for configuration and build, so this section mostly describes generalized process of building software with CMake.

Step 0: Prerequisites

Install C++ compiler and build tools. On *NIX platforms it is usually GCC/G++ or Clang compiler and Make or Ninja build tool. On Windows it can be Visual Studio IDE or MinGW-w64 compiler. Native toolchains for Android are provided in the Android NDK. XCode IDE is used to build software for OSX and iOS platforms.

Install CMake from the official site or some other source.

Get other third-party dependencies: libraries with extra functionality like decoding videos or showing GUI elements; libraries providing optimized implementations of selected algorithms; tools used for documentation generation and other extras. Check OpenCV configuration options reference for available options and corresponding dependencies.

Step 1: Get software sources

Typical software project consists of one or several code repositories. OpenCV have two repositories with code: opencv - main repository with stable and actively supported algorithms and opencv_contrib which contains experimental and non-free (patented) algorithms; and one repository with test data: opencv_extra.

You can download a snapshot of repository in form of an archive or clone repository with full history.

To download snapshot archives:

To clone repositories run the following commands in console (git must be installed):

git clone
git -C opencv checkout <some-tag>
# optionally
git clone
git -C opencv_contrib checkout <same-tag-as-opencv>
# optionally
git clone
git -C opencv_extra checkout <same-tag-as-opencv>
If you want to build software using more than one repository, make sure all components are compatible with each other. For OpenCV it means that opencv and opencv_contrib repositories must be checked out at the same tag or that all snapshot archives are downloaded from the same release.
When choosing which version to download take in account your target platform and development tools versions, latest versions of OpenCV can have build problems with very old compilers and vice versa. We recommend using latest release and fresh OS/compiler combination.

Step 2: Configure

At this step CMake will verify that all necessary tools and dependencies are available and compatible with the library and will generate intermediate files for the chosen build system. It could be Makefiles, IDE projects and solutions, etc. Usually this step is performed in newly created build directory:

cmake -G<generator> <configuration-options> <source-directory>
cmake-gui application allows to see and modify available options using graphical user interface. See for details.

Step 3: Build

During build process source files are compiled into object files which are linked together or otherwise combined into libraries and applications. This step can be run using universal command:

cmake --build <build-directory> <build-options>

... or underlying build system can be called directly:


(optional) Step 3: Install

During installation procedure build results and other files from build directory will be copied to the install location. Default installation location is /usr/local on UNIX and C:/Program Files on Windows. This location can be changed at the configuration step by setting CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX option. To perform installation run the following command:

cmake --build <build-directory> --target install <other-options>
This step is optional, OpenCV can be used directly from the build directory.
If the installation root location is a protected system directory, so the installation process must be run with superuser or administrator privileges (e.g. sudo cmake ...).

(optional) Step 4: Build plugins

It is possible to decouple some of OpenCV dependencies and make them optional by extracting parts of the code into dynamically-loaded plugins. It helps to produce adaptive binary distributions which can work on systems with less dependencies and extend functionality just by installing missing libraries. For now modules core, videoio and highgui support this mechanism for some of their dependencies. In some cases it is possible to build plugins together with OpenCV by setting options like VIDEOIO_PLUGIN_LIST or HIGHGUI_PLUGIN_LIST, more options related to this scenario can be found in the OpenCV configuration options reference. In other cases plugins should be built separately in their own build procedure and this section describes such standalone build process.

It is recommended to use compiler, configuration and build options which are compatible to the one used for OpenCV build, otherwise resulting library can refuse to load or cause other runtime problems. Note that some functionality can be limited or work slower when backends are loaded dynamically due to extra barrier between OpenCV and corresponding third-party library.

Build procedure is similar to the main OpenCV build, but you have to use special CMake projects located in corresponding subdirectories, these folders can also contain reference scripts and Docker images. It is important to use opencv_<module>_<backend> name prefix for plugins so that loader is able to find them. Each supported prefix can be used to load only one library, however multiple candidates can be probed for a single prefix. For example, you can have and plugins and the first one which can be loaded successfully will occupy internal slot and stop probing process. Possible prefixes and project locations are presented in the table below:

module backends location
core parallel_tbb, parallel_onetbb, parallel_openmp opencv/modules/core/misc/plugins
highgui gtk, gtk2, gtk3 opencv/modules/highgui/misc/plugins
videoio ffmpeg, gstreamer, intel_mfx, msmf opencv/modules/videoio/misc


# set-up environment for TBB detection, for example:
# export TBB_DIR=<dir-with-tbb-cmake-config>
cmake -G<generator> \
-DOPENCV_PLUGIN_NAME=opencv_core_tbb_<suffix> \
cmake --build . --config <config>
On Windows plugins must be linked with existing OpenCV build. Set OpenCV_DIR environment or CMake variable to the directory with OpenCVConfig.cmake file, it can be OpenCV build directory or some path in the location where you performed installation.