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Chapter 5: Compile Time Commands

5.1 Compiler Utility Commands

These commands are similar to the C preprocessor in terms of purpose and functionality. They allow file inclusion, conditional compilation, executable header packing and process execution during the build process. Note: None of these commands allow the use of variables.

Number literals support the 0b, 0o, 0n and 0x radix prefixes (base 2, 8, 10 and 16 respectively). Note: The deprecated plain 0 octal prefix is also supported in some places but its usage is discouraged.

5.1.1 !include


This command will include 'file' as if it was part of the original script. Note that if a file is included in another directory, the current directory is still where the script was compiled from (not where the included file resides). If the compiler can't find the file it will look for it in every include directory. See !addincludedir for more information. If the /nonfatal switch is used and no files are found, a warning will be issued instead of an error. /charset can be used to specify a codepage for plain text files without a BOM.

!include WinMessages.nsh
!include Library.nsh
!include /CHARSET=CP1252 C:\MyConfig.nsi
!include ..\MyConfig.nsh
!include /NONFATAL file_that_may_exist_or_not.nsh

5.1.2 !addincludedir


Adds another include directory to the include directories list. This list is searched when !include is used. This list's initial value is ${NSISDIR}\Include.

!addincludedir ..\include
!include something.nsh

5.1.3 !addplugindir

[/x86-ansi | /x86-unicode] directory

Causes the NSIS compiler to scan the given directory for plug-in DLLs. If you don't specify the plug-in architecture it is assumed to match the current target architecture. If the architecture does not match the installer will probably crash!

!addplugindir ..\myplugin

5.1.4 !appendfile

[/CHARSET=ACP|OEM|CP#|UTF8[SIG]|UTF16<LE|BE>[BOM]] [/RawNL] file text

Appends text to file. The text is written as ANSI (ACP) unless the file already has a BOM. Using /CHARSET will force a specific character encoding. $\n will be translated to $\r$\n on Windows unless you specify /RawNL.

!tempfile FILE
!appendfile "${FILE}" "XPStyle on$\n"
!appendfile "${FILE}" "Name 'test'$\n"
!include "${FILE}"
!delfile "${FILE}"
!undef FILE

5.1.5 !cd


This command will change the compiler to the new directory, new_path. new_path can be relative or absolute.

!cd ..\more-scripts\new

5.1.6 !delfile

[/nonfatal] file

This command deletes a file.

!tempfile FILE
!delfile "${FILE}"
!undef FILE

5.1.7 !echo


This command will echo a message to the user compiling the script.

!echo "hello world"

5.1.8 !error


This command will issue an error to the script compiler and will stop execution of the script. You can also add a message to this error.

  !error "both VERSION and NOVERSION are defined"

5.1.9 !execute

command [compare comparevalue | symbol]

This command will execute 'command' using a call to CreateProcess(). Unlike !system, it does not use the command line processor, so input/output redirection and commands like 'cd', 'dir' and 'type' can not be used. Currently, the only known advantage of !execute over !system is that it does not give trouble when the current working directory is specified using UNC.

On POSIX platforms, !execute will use system() just like !system.

!execute '"$%WINDIR%\notepad.exe" /P "${NSISDIR}\COPYING"'

5.1.10 !makensis

parameters [compare comparevalue | symbol]

This command will !execute a new instance of MakeNSIS with the parameters you specify.

!makensis '-DGENERATEUNINST "${__FILE__}"' = 0
!system '"signtool" sign ...' = 0

5.1.11 !packhdr

tempfile command

This option makes the compiler use an external EXE packer (such as Petite or UPX) to compress the executable header. Specify a temporary file name (such as "temp.dat") and a command line (such as "C:\program files\upx\upx -9 temp.dat") to compress the header.

!packhdr "$%TEMP%\exehead.tmp" '"C:\Program Files\UPX\upx.exe" "$%TEMP%\exehead.tmp"'

5.1.12 !finalize

command [compare comparevalue]

This option will execute 'command' using a call to system() after the output EXE has been generated. You can typically use it to sign (Authenticode) your installer. If 'command' contains a '%1' it will be replaced by the executables filename.

!finalize 'sign.bat "%1" "Product Installer"'

5.1.13 !system

command [compare comparevalue | symbol]

This command will execute 'command' using a call to system(). You can store the return value in a define ('symbol') or halt execution if the return value compared (using 'compare') to 'comparevalue' is false. 'compare' can be '<' or '>' or '<>' or '='.

!system '"%WINDIR%\notepad.exe" "${NSISDIR}\COPYING"'
!system 'echo !define something > newinclude.nsh'
!include newinclude.nsh
!ifdef something
  !echo "something is defined"

5.1.14 !tempfile


This command creates a temporary file. It puts its path into a define, named symbol.

!packhdr "${PACKHDRTEMP}" '"C:\Program Files\UPX\upx.exe" "${PACKHDRTEMP}"'
!tempfile FILE
!define /date DATE "%H:%M:%S %d %b, %Y"
!system 'echo built on ${DATE} > "${FILE}"'
!undef DATE
File /oname=build.txt "${FILE}"
!delfile "${FILE}"
!undef FILE

5.1.15 !getdllversion

[/noerrors] [/packed] localfilename define_basename

This is similar to GetDLLVersionLocal, only it stores the version number in defines and can therefore be used anywhere, not just inside functions and sections. /packed returns the information in two DWORDs.

!getdllversion "$%WINDIR%\Explorer.exe" Expv_
!echo "Explorer.exe version is ${Expv_1}.${Expv_2}.${Expv_3}.${Expv_4}"

5.1.16 !gettlbversion

[/noerrors] [/packed] localfilename define_basename

Get the version information from a .TLB file.

!gettlbversion /packed "$%WINDIR%\System32\stdole32.tlb" TLBVER_

5.1.17 !warning


This command will issue a warning to the script compiler. You can also add a message to this warning.

  !warning "using dangerous stuff"

5.1.18 !pragma

warning <enable|disable|default> code
warning <push|pop>

The pragma commands allows you to change compiler features and behavior.

!pragma warning disable 9000 ; Disable warning about using "Setup.exe" as the name
OutFile "Setup.exe"

5.1.19 !verbose

level | push | pop

This command will set the level of verbosity: 4=all, 3=no script, 2=no info, 1=no warnings, 0=none.

Passing push will cause !verbose to push the current verbosity level on a special stack. Passing pop will cause !verbose to pop the current verbosity level from the same stack and use it.

!verbose push
!verbose 1
!include WinMessages.nsh
!verbose pop

5.2 Predefines

You can use these standard predefines to automatically add the build time to the title of development versions, add the date to the version number, etc.

5.2.1 ${__COUNTER__}

Expands to a number (Starting at 0 and incrementing by 1 every time it is used)

5.2.2 ${__FILE__}

Current script name.

5.2.3 ${__FILEDIR__}

Current script directory.

5.2.4 ${__LINE__}

Current line number.

5.2.5 ${__DATE__}

Date when the script started compiling according to the current locale.

5.2.6 ${__TIME__}

Time when the script started compiling according to the current locale.

5.2.7 ${__TIMESTAMP__}

Date & time of the last modification to the script file according to the current locale.


NSIS version used to build the script.


NSIS version as a 32-bit number.

!if 0x3014000 >= "${NSIS_PACKEDVERSION}"
  !error "NSIS 3.15 or higher is required to build this installer!"

5.2.10 ${NSIS_CHAR_SIZE}

The size of a character code unit (in bytes). 1 in ANSI installers and 2 in Unicode installers.

A grapheme cluster consists of a base character plus optional combining characters and diacritics and is defined as one or more code points. One or more code units is required to encode a single code point.

5.2.11 ${NSIS_PTR_SIZE}

The size of a pointer (in bytes) in the generated installer.

5.2.12 ${U+1}...${U+10FFFF}

A Unicode (UCS-4) character.

DetailPrint "${U+2115}SIS" # DOUBLE-STRUCK CAPITAL N + "SIS"

5.2.13 Scope Predefines

Standard predefines that contain information about the current code scope. ${__GLOBAL__}

Defined in the global scope.

Section test
  !ifdef ${__GLOBAL__}
    !error "this shouldn't be here!"

PageEx instfiles
  !ifdef ${__GLOBAL__}
    !error "this shouldn't be here!"
PageExEnd ${__SECTION__}

Defined as the section name, without any prefixes, in section scope.

!ifdef __SECTION__
  !error "this shouldn't be here!"

Section test
  !ifndef __SECTION__
    !error "missing predefine!"

  !if ${__SECTION__} != test
    !error "wrong predefine value!"

Section !test
  !if ${__SECTION__} != test
    !error "wrong predefine value!"

Section un.test
  !if ${__SECTION__} != test
    !error "wrong predefine value!"
SectionEnd ${__FUNCTION__}

Defined as the function name, without any prefixes, in function scope.

!ifdef __FUNCTION__
  !error "this shouldn't be here!"

Function test
  !ifndef __FUNCTION__
    !error "missing predefine!"

  !if ${__FUNCTION__} != test
    !error "wrong predefine value!"

Function un.test
  !if ${__FUNCTION__} != test
    !error "wrong predefine value!"
FunctionEnd ${__PAGEEX__}

Defined as the page type in PageEx scope.

!ifdef __PAGEEX__
  !error "this shouldn't be here!"

PageEx instfiles
  !ifndef __PAGEEX__
    !error "missing predefine!"

  !if ${__PAGEEX__} != instfiles
    !error "wrong page type"
PageExEnd ${__UNINSTALL__}

Defined in section, function or PageEx scopes of the uninstaller.

!ifdef __UNINSTALL__
  !error "this shouldn't be here!"

Function test
  !ifdef __UNINSTALL__
    !error "this shouldn't be here!"

Function un.test
  !ifndef __UNINSTALL__
    !error "missing predefine!"
FunctionEnd ${__MACRO__}

Defined as the name of the current macro.

5.3 Read environment variables

5.3.1 $%envVarName%

$%envVarName% will be replaced at compile time by the environment variable envVarName.

5.4 Conditional Compilation

The compiler maintains a list of defined symbols, which can be defined using !define or the /D command line switch. These defined symbols can be used for conditional compilation (using !ifdef) or for symbol replacement (a simple form of macros). To replace a symbol with its value, use ${SYMBOL} (if SYMBOL is not defined, no translation will occur). The translation is first-come-first-served, meaning if you do:

!define symbol_one ${symbol_two}

If symbol_two is defined when that line occurs, it will be replaced. Otherwise, any replacing will occur when ${symbol_one} is referenced.

Define/conditional compilation related commands:

5.4.1 !define

[/ifndef | /redef] ([/date|/utcdate] gflag [value]) | (/math gflag val1 OP val2) | (/file gflag filename.txt)

This command will add gflag to the global define list. This will have a similar effect as using the /D switch on the command line (the define only becomes effective after the !define command).

If /date or /utcdate are used, value will be passed to strftime() and the result will be used as the value of gflag. strftime converts special symbols into certain parts of the current time or date. For example, %H will be converted into the current hour in 24-hour format. For a complete list of available symbols, search for strftime on MSDN. On POSIX, you can get the list by using man strftime.

If /math is used, the result of 'val1 OP val2', where OP may be +,-,*,/,%,<<,>>,>>>,&,|,^,~,!,&& or ||, will be used as the value of gflag. Note that val1 AND val2 MUST be integer values!

If /file is used, the entire text file specified (including whitespace and newlines) will be read and stuffed into gflag.

!define VERSION 1.2
!define /date NOW "%H:%M:%S %d %b, %Y"
!define /math RESULT 3 + 10
!define /math REST 15 % ${RESULT}
!define /file BunchaStuff somesourcefile.cpp
!define /redef USE_SOMETHING ${RESULT} ;redefine USE_SOMETHING

5.4.2 !undef


Removes an item from the global define list. Note that ${SYMBOL} where SYMBOL is undefined will be translated to "${SYMBOL}".


5.4.3 !ifdef

gflag [bcheck gflag [...]]

This command, when paired with an !endif command, will tell the compiler whether or not to compile the lines in between the two lines. If gflag is globally defined (using !define or the /D switch), then the contained lines will be compiled. Otherwise, they will be skipped. 'bcheck' can be specified as & (boolean and) or | (boolean or) along with more gflags -- precedence is simple, left to right.

  !echo "SOMETHING is defined"
  !echo "SOMETHING is defined" # will never be printed

5.4.4 !ifndef

gflag [bcheck gflag [...]]]

The opposite of !ifdef. The lines will be compiled when the gflag has not been defined.

5.4.5 !if

[!] value [op value2]
[!] /FileExists "c:\path\file.exe"

This command, when paired with an !endif command, will tell the compiler whether or not to compile the lines in between the two lines. If value is non-zero, or the comparison of value and value2 depending on the operator results in true, the contained lines will be compiled. Otherwise, they will be skipped. op can be either == or != (case-insensitive string comparison), S== or S!= (case-sensitive string comparison), =, <>, <=, <, > or >= (int/hex/float comparison), & (bitwise AND comparison), && or || (boolean comparison). If [!] is set, the result will be flipped from true to false and vice versa.

!if 1 < 0x2
  !echo "1 is smaller than 2!!"
!else if ! 3.1 > 1.99
  !error "this line should never appear"
  !error "neither should this"
!if /FileExists ".\cert.pfx"
  !finalize '".\sign.bat" "%1"'

5.4.6 !ifmacrodef

gflag [bcheck gflag [...]]]

This command, when paired with an !endif command, will tell the compiler whether or not to compile the lines in between the two lines. If the macro gflag exists, then the contained lines will be compiled. Otherwise, they will be skipped. 'bcheck' can be specified as & (boolean and) or | (boolean or) along with more gflags -- precedence is simple, left to right.

!macro SomeMacro
!ifmacrodef SomeMacro
  !echo "SomeMacro is defined"

5.4.7 !ifmacrondef

gflag [bcheck gflag [...]]]

The opposite of !ifmacrodef. The lines will be compiled when the macro gflag does not exist.

5.4.8 !else

[if|ifdef|ifndef|ifmacrodef|ifmacrondef [...]]

This command allows to easily insert different code when different defines or macros are set. You can create blocks like !ifdef/!else/!endif, !ifdef/!else ifdef/!else/!endif etc.

!ifdef VERSION
OutFile installer-${VERSION}.exe
OutFile installer.exe

5.4.9 !endif

This command closes a block started with !if, !ifdef, !ifndef, !ifmacrodef or !ifmacrondef.

5.4.10 !insertmacro

macro_name [parameter] [...]

Inserts the contents of a macro that was created with !macro. If the macro was created with parameters, then you must pass as many parameters to the macro as it requires.

!macro Print text
  DetailPrint "${text}"
!insertmacro Print "some text"
!insertmacro Print "some more text"

5.4.11 !macro

macro_name [parameter][...]

Creates a macro named 'macro_name'. All lines between the !macro and the !macroend will be saved. To insert the macro later on, use !insertmacro. !macro definitions can have one or more parameters defined. The parameters may be accessed the same way a !define would (e.g. ${PARMNAME}) from inside the macro.

!macro SomeMacro parm1 parm2 parm3
  DetailPrint "${parm1}"
  MessageBox MB_OK "${parm2}"
  File "${parm3}"

5.4.12 !macroend

Ends a macro that was started with !macro.

5.4.13 !macroundef


Deletes a macro.

5.4.14 !searchparse

[/ignorecase] [/noerrors] [/file] source_string_or_file substring_start OUTPUTSYMBOL1 [substring [OUTPUTSYMBOL2 [substring ...]]]

Parses source_string_or_file (which is treated as a string, or as a filename if /file is set), looking for substring_start. If substring_start is found, then OUTPUTSYMBOL1 is defined to the rest of the string (minus any other substring that may be found). Any number of OUTPUTSYMBOLx may be specified, and the final substring is optional.

If /noerrors is specified, matching less than the full number of strings is allowed (all OUTPUTSYMBOLx after the not-found substring will be ignored).

If /file is specified, the file is treated as a series of lines. The file is searched until all substrings are matched. If /noerrors is specified and not all strings are matched, the first line with the most symbols matched is used.

# search filename.cpp for a line '#define APP_VERSION "2.5"' and set ${VER_MAJOR} to 2, ${VER_MINOR} to 5.
!searchparse /file filename.cpp `#define APP_VERSION "` VER_MAJOR `.` VER_MINOR `"`

5.4.15 !searchreplace

[/ignorecase] symbol_out source_string searchfor replacewith

Searches source_string, looking for searchfor and replacing all instances of it with replacewith. Unlike !define, !searchreplace allows you to redefine symbol_out without warning or error.

# defines ${blah} to "i like ponies"
!searchreplace blah "i love ponies" "love" "like"

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