How to use the Boost Libraries in Visual Studio

In this guide we will use boost::format, a Boost library requiring no separate compilation. If you do not already have Boost installed, the first task is to download and extract the Boost zip file to a destination of your choice. Official releases of Boost may be obtained from here:

Download and extract the zip file to your destination of choice:


In Visual Studio create an empty project by selecting File > New > Project. In the ‘New Project’ dialog that appears, set the ‘Create directory for solution’ checkbox and give your project a name:


Now that the empty project is created, add some code to it. In Visual Studio, right-click the project folder and select Add > New Item… In the ‘Add New Item’ dialog that appears, select C++ File and name it as ‘main.cpp’:


Now insert the following code snippet into main.cpp, a program used to format and output and array of hexadecimal values:

#include <iostream>
#include <boost/format.hpp>
int main()
    unsigned int arr[5] = { 0x05, 0x04, 0xAA, 0x0F, 0x0D };
    std::cout << boost::format("%02X-%02X-%02X-%02X-%02X")
            % arr[0]
            % arr[1]
            % arr[2]
            % arr[3]
            % arr[4]
         << endl;

Notice that build errors occur if we try to build the Visual Studio project without having first specified the additional includes required to use the Boost libraries:

fatal error C1083: Cannot open include file: 'boost/format.hpp': No such file or directory

To do this, right-click your project folder in Visual Studio and select ‘Properties’. In the C++ > General tab edit the Additional Include Directories section:


Then tell Visual Studio where your Boost library include files reside:


Your program should now successfully compile. Debugging the program gives us the following output:


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