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Setting Up Your QMK Environment

Before you can build keymaps, you need to install some software and set up your build environment. This only has to be done once no matter how many keyboards you plan to compile firmware for.

1. Prerequisites

There are a few pieces of software you'll need to get started.

  • Text editor
    • You’ll need a program that can edit and save plain text files. The default editor that comes with many OS's does not save plain text files, so you'll need to make sure that whatever editor you chose does.
  • Toolbox (optional)
    • A graphical program for Windows and macOS that allows you to both program and debug your custom keyboard


If you haven't worked with the Linux/Unix command line before, there are a few basic concepts and commands you should learn. These resources will teach you enough to be able to work with QMK.

2. Prepare Your Build Environment

We've tried to make QMK as easy to set up as possible. You only have to prepare your Linux or Unix environment, then let QMK install the rest.

QMK maintains a Bundle of MSYS2, the CLI and all necessary dependencies. It also provides a handy QMK MSYS terminal shortcut to boot you directly into the correct environment.


You will need to install QMK MSYS. The latest release is available here.

Advanced Users


This process is not recommended for new users.

If you'd like to manually install MSYS2, the following sections will walk you through the process.


You will need to install MSYS2. Once installed, close any open MSYS terminals (purple icon) and open a new MinGW 64-bit terminal (blue icon) from the Start Menu.


NOTE: The MinGW 64-bit terminal is not the same as the MSYS terminal that opens when installation is completed. Your prompt should say "MINGW64" in purple text, rather than "MSYS". See this page for more information on the differences.


Install the QMK CLI by running:

pacman --needed --noconfirm --disable-download-timeout -S git mingw-w64-x86_64-python-qmk

3. Run QMK Setup

Open QMK MSYS and run the following command:

qmk setup

In most situations you will want to answer y to all of the prompts.


The qmk home folder can be specified at setup with qmk setup -H <path>, and modified afterwards using the cli configuration and the variable user.qmk_home. For all available options run qmk setup --help.


If you already know how to use GitHub, we recommend that you follow these instructions and use qmk setup <github_username>/qmk_firmware to clone your personal fork. If you don't know what that means you can safely ignore this message.

4. Test Your Build Environment

Now that your QMK build environment is set up, you can build a firmware for your keyboard. Start by trying to build the keyboard's default keymap. You should be able to do that with a command in this format:

qmk compile -kb <keyboard> -km default

For example, to build a firmware for a Clueboard 66% you would use:

qmk compile -kb clueboard/66/rev3 -km default


The keyboard option is the path relative to the keyboard directory, the above example would be found in qmk_firmware/keyboards/clueboard/66/rev3. If you're unsure you can view a full list of supported keyboards with qmk list-keyboards.

When it is done you should have a lot of output that ends similar to this:

Linking: .build/clueboard_66_rev3_default.elf                                                       [OK]
Creating load file for flashing: .build/clueboard_66_rev3_default.hex                               [OK]
Copying clueboard_66_rev3_default.hex to qmk_firmware folder                                        [OK]
Checking file size of clueboard_66_rev3_default.hex                                                 [OK]
 * The firmware size is fine - 26356/28672 (2316 bytes free)

Creating Your Keymap

You are now ready to create your own personal keymap! Move on to Building Your First Firmware for that.