PIC 18F4550 MPLAB setup


These are the following steps, which we will be going through in this article.

Mplab Ide Installation
C18 Compiler Toolsuite Inslallation 
Toolsuite Settings and creating a new project
Library and Path settings


Configuring MPLAB with C18 compiler and setting your first project requires some basic set of things which need to be kept in mind all the time while you carry on to avoid un necessary pain. In my previous pic18f4550 programming post we got a quick preliminary description about Programming a Microcontroller. I am assuming that you have already downloaded the tools from, microchip (MPLAB IDE and C18) Compiler from the links provided from the previous post.

If installation for Mplab and C18 Compiler went well for you then, you can quickly skip this part of tutorial and go on the next part with for coding your pic18f4550 microcontroller. PIC18F4550 Blinking LED.

Next stage would be to install the weapons, (tools) that we download in our previous post for the war to be won. Snapshot below describes the steps of installation, Configuration of C18 Compiler, creating project and Setting up compiler, library and directories on windows XP OS. Installation and settings won’t be much of a different taste for other Windows OS as well.


MPLAB Installation

First Install the MPLAB IDE from the setup file you downloaded.

All the system files for MPLAB IDE would be installed in
C:\Program Files\Microchip\MPLAB IDE

All the core files are located in
C:\Program Files\Microchip\MPLAB IDE\Core

Incase if in future you loose the shortcut then you can start mplab from
C:\Program Files\Microchip\MPLAB IDE\Core\MPLAB.exe

C18 Compiler Toolsuite Installation

All right that enough of MPLAB IDE. Let’s gets go on to C18 compiler now. The lite version of c18 Compiler that we are installing here is version v3.41.

Next you have to run the C18 Compiler setup for installation. The C18 compiler will detect the MPLAB and will install accordingly.

C18 Compiler installation C18 Compiler installation settings

After Installation of C18 Compiler, all the necessary compiler files, Headers, Linker and few Example coding will be installed in following directory.

C:\Program Files\Microchip\mplabc18

You can review short example programs
C:\Program Files\Microchip\mplabc18\v3.41\example

Microchip always documents its releases very nicely. Quick getting started documents can be found in

C:\Program Files\Microchip\mplabc18\v3.41\doc\MPLAB-C18-Getting-Started_51295f.pdf

A personal recommendation. Don’t delete the Setup files after installation. You might need it someday in future just incase if you have to reinstall everything from beginning.

Project wizard 
Microchip C18 Toolsuite
Adding files to project

After installation of Mplab and C18, next step is to create a new project from Project Wizard. All the coding would be handled as individual projects which would contain various the blocks of code interconnected.

For demo purpose we are going to create a Dummy project to understand the project setting.  First create a new folder in your desktop or on your desired location manually. In our tutorial I have created a folder on Desktop “Project1”. All the project files will be stored here; don’t forget the location where you created your project folder. 

So First start MPLAB IDE, which would start blank as an “Untitled Workspace”.

Mplab ide blank workspace


Project Wizard

Create a new project by proceeding through project wizard from top file menus that would help you to setup the setting for your first new project. Project wizard would give you options to select your microcontroller which you intent to code and also it will load the necessary tool suite that you need for project.

mplab ide project wizard settings

In Project Wizard, select the microcontroller from the drop down list menu, which in our case is PIC18F4550.

pic18f4550 settings for mplab ide project


ToolSuite Selection

Next step would be to select the Toolsuite.
In our case we are going to use C18 Compiler Toolsuite, so while creating the project from project wizard when it prompts, select C18 Toolsuite from the top drop down menu.

c18 Compiler toolsuite Selection

From Drop down menu select Microchip C18 Toolsuite

Most of the time the default would be Microchip C18 Toolsuite if you haven’t installed any other Toolsuite.

Select the Microchip C18 Toolsuite from Active Toolsuite drop down menu and go on to next settings with defaults.

C18 compiler toolsuite

Next step is to give a name to your project, hit browse and Navigate to the location where you created a folder in the beginning of this session. The folder which was created in the beginning was named as project1 for this tutorial. Navigate to the folder that you created.

Folder location for project

Navigate inside the folder and then name the new Project. And then click next.

In the next screen Mplab would prompt you to add some files to your project. This prompt would help you to add already coded files. Since we don’t have anything yet coded for our pic18f4550 so proceed with next button leaving things untouched.

Project Parameter Summary for pic18f4550

When everything is done mplab would display Project Summary with all project parameters such as Device name, Toolsuite and location of the project. Hit finish.

Your project settings are now ready. Created project can be viewed in the same folder where you saved your project few seconds ago. The main project file would be yourprojectname.mcp ( the name which you gave to the project while creating the project inside the folder where you saved ). You can always launch the entire project with your project name. For this tutorial its been named as  project1.mcp inside the main project folder project1.


  • Project1 (project Folder)
    • Project1.mcp (Project name)

The Project which is created now would be blank without any coding.

Blank project with mplab ide


Adding a new C File         

Now since we have created a project, now we have to add C files for writing our code.

Create a new file by either clicking on File > New or click on New File icon.

Create a new File


That would create a new untitled file. Write some dummy string and then hit save. Name the file while saving it. In our case we would name it as main.c.

NOTE:* While saving the file, remember to check the box. “Add this file to project” or the file saved will not be added to the project workspace and the main.c will be missing from project file explorer.

Add files to the project setings

The new added C file would be enlisted in the project explorer Under “Source Files”. Now we have successfully added a C file for writing the codes.

Project after the files added in the mplan ide


Directory and Compiler library setting

You can review the build (Compile) setting for your Project under the menu
Project Built Options > Project


Built options in the Mplab IDE



Directory settings for mplab Current project

Built options


By default when the Microchip C18 Toolsuite was chosen from project wizard, it added the directory paths for the links and library setting for the project, which includes the links to the linker files for linking and other necessary libraries. Just incase if the library settings are not set then you can review the setting under the Directory Search Paths.


From drop down menu under the Directories select Library Search Path.

Library Search path setting for mplab project

After selecting the Library Search Path, if you find it empty then you can add the path manually.

C:\Program Files\Microchip\mplabc18\v3.41\lib


Output Path Setting

By default if you don ’t choose an output folder then all files created during the compilation of the program would be directly dumped into the main project folder (Project1 folder) where you created the project. That would make things looks messy after you compile, and you would find some extra files that compiler generated during compilation.

To avoid that it’s recommended to add a separate output folder. So that compiler would dump all the files into the Output folder including your .hex file which is your final outcome before burning it into the microcontroller.

  • Create a new Folder inside the main Project folder and name it as output.
  • Open the Directory Setting in the project Built Option



Output Directory settings for Mplab IDE


  • Select the option from drop down as “Output Directory”


Output Directory settings select location


  • Hit the browse icon and locate the main project1 folder and then select the folder you just created with name “Output” and then apply settings.

Henceforth whenever you would compile any project all the runtime files and output hex files would be dumped in the output folder. That would make life easy in future.

Hence now we are completely set with MPLAB IDE, compiler and Project settings .. So lets carry on with our first setting on real time coding with hardware c.