Desktop support for Flutter

Flutter provides support for compiling a native Windows, macOS, or Linux desktop app. Flutter’s desktop support also extends to plugins—you can install existing plugins that support the Windows, macOS, or Linux platforms, or you can create your own.

Requirements

To compile a desktop application, you must build it on the targeted platform: build a Windows application on Windows, a macOS application on macOS, and a Linux application on Linux.

To create a Flutter application with desktop support, you need the following software:

Additional Windows requirements

For Windows desktop development, you need the following in addition to the Flutter SDK:

  • Visual Studio 2022 When installing Visual Studio select the “Desktop development with C++” workload, including all of its default components, to install the necessary C++ toolchain and Windows SDK header files.

Additional macOS requirements

For macOS desktop development, you need the following in addition to the Flutter SDK:

Additional Linux requirements

For Linux desktop development, you need the following in addition to the Flutter SDK:

One easy way to install the Flutter SDK along with the necessary dependencies is by using snapd. For more information, see Installing snapd.

Once you have snapd, you can install Flutter using the Snap Store, or at the command line:

$ sudo snap install flutter --classic

Alternatively, if you prefer not to use snapd, you can use the following command:

$ sudo apt-get install clang cmake ninja-build pkg-config libgtk-3-dev liblzma-dev

Create a new project

You can use the following steps to create a new project with desktop support.

Set up

On Windows, desktop support is enabled on Flutter 2.10 or higher. On macOS and Linux, desktop support is enabled on Flutter 3 or higher.

You might run flutter doctor to see if there are any unresolved issues. You should see a checkmark for each successfully configured area. It should look something like the following on Windows, with an entry for “develop for Windows”:

C:\> flutter doctor
Doctor summary (to see all details, run flutter doctor -v):
[✓] Flutter (Channel stable, 3.0.0, on Microsoft Windows [Version 10.0.19044.1706], locale en-US)
[✓] Chrome - develop for the web
[✓] Visual Studio - develop for Windows (Visual Studio Professional 2022 17.2.0)
[✓] VS Code (version 1.67.2)
[✓] Connected device (3 available)
[✓] HTTP Host Availability

• No issues found!

On macOS, look for a line like this:

[✓] Xcode - develop for iOS and macOS

On Linux, look for a line like this:

[✓] Linux toolchain - develop for Linux desktop

If flutter doctor finds problems or missing components for a platform that you don’t want to develop for, you can ignore those warnings. Or you can disable the platform altogether using the flutter config command, for example:

$ flutter config --no-enable-ios

After enabling desktop support, restart your IDE so that it can detect the new device.

Create and run

Creating a new project with desktop support is no different than creating a new Flutter project for other platforms.

Once you’ve configured your environment for desktop support, you can create and run a desktop application either in the IDE or from the command line.

Using an IDE

After you’ve configured your environment to support desktop, make sure you restart the IDE if it was already running.

Create a new application in your IDE and it automatically creates iOS, Android, web, and desktop versions of your app. From the device pulldown, select windows (desktop), macOS (desktop), or linux (desktop) and run your application to see it launch on the desktop.

From the command line

To create a new application that includes desktop support (in addition to mobile and web support), run the following commands, substituting my_app with the name of your project:

$ flutter create my_app
$ cd my_app

To launch your application from the command line, enter one of the following commands from the top of the package:

C:\> flutter run -d windows
$ flutter run -d macos
$ flutter run -d linux

Build a release app

To generate a release build, run one of the following commands:

PS C:\> flutter build windows
$ flutter build macos
$ flutter build linux

Add desktop support to an existing Flutter app

To add desktop support to an existing Flutter project, run the following command in a terminal from the root project directory:

$ flutter create --platforms=windows,macos,linux .

This adds the necessary desktop files and directories to your existing Flutter project. To add only specific desktop platforms, change the platforms list to include only the platform(s) you want to add.

Plugin support

Flutter on the desktop supports using and creating plugins. To use a plugin that supports desktop, follow the steps for plugins in using packages. Flutter automatically adds the necessary native code to your project, as with any other platform.

Writing a plugin

When you start building your own plugins, you’ll want to keep federation in mind. Federation is the ability to define several different packages, each targeted at a different set of platforms, brought together into a single plugin for ease of use by developers. For example, the Windows implementation of the url_launcher is really url_launcher_windows, but a Flutter developer can simply add the url_launcher package to their pubspec.yaml as a dependency and the build process pulls in the correct implementation based on the target platform. Federation is handy because different teams with different expertise can build plugin implementations for different platforms. You can add a new platform implementation to any endorsed federated plugin on pub.dev, so long as you coordinate this effort with the original plugin author.

For more information, including information about endorsed plugins, see the following resources:

Samples and codelabs

Write a Flutter desktop application
A codelab that walks you through building a desktop application that integrates the GitHub GraphQL API with your Flutter app.

You can run the following samples as desktop apps, as well as download and inspect the source code to learn more about Flutter desktop support.

Flutter Gallery running web app, repo
A samples project hosted on GitHub to help developers evaluate and use Flutter. The Gallery consists of a collection of Material design widgets, behaviors, and vignettes implemented with Flutter. You can clone the project and run Gallery as a desktop app by following the instructions provided in the README.
Flokk announcement blogpost, repo
A Google contacts manager that integrates with GitHub and Twitter. It syncs with your Google account, imports your contacts, and allows you to manage them.
Photo Search app
A sample application built as a desktop application that uses desktop-supported plugins.