Discover the Best and Most Popular Applications Written in C/C++

Applications Written in cpp

I have put together a list of most popular applications and software written in C or C++ programming languages.  The surprising thing is that majority of these applications are commonly used in our daily routine. Many tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and Adobe have numbers of applications written in C/C++.

Since the majority of these applications are either partly or completely written in one of the programming languages, I have included both C and C++ in my selection.

These applications are mainly, but not limited to, Operating Systems, Device Drivers, Compilers, Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), Video Game Engines and Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) written in C/C++. Operating Systems include Windows 95, 98, 2000, XP, Apple OS X, Symbian OS and BeOS. General applications include Mozilla Firefox, MySQL Server, Adobe Photoshop and Maya 3D Animation software.

Table of Contents

Software Applications written in C/C++

Adobe Systems

Many of the major applications of adobe systems are developed in C++ programming language.

These applications include Adobe Photoshop and Image Ready, Illustrator and Adobe Premier. Adobe has released a lot of open-source code in the past, mostly in C++, and their developers have been active in the C++ community.

Click here to go to Adobe Open Source initiatives…

Google Applications

Google developed some of the applications using C++. These include Google file system and Google Chromium browser and MapReduce large cluster data processing.

Google open source community has over 2,000 projects and many of them use C or C++ as their main Programming languages. These include WebRTC, gRPC and DeepMind Lab, which freely available as open source at GitHub.

Many a parts of Android mobile operating system, primarily designed for handheld devices, which uses modified version of the Linux kernel. Both C and C++ are primary development languages for Linux kernel development.

Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird

Mozilla Internet browser i.e. Firefox and email client i.e. Thunderbird are both written in C++ programming language.

Both are open source projects and their source code can be downloaded from Mercurial repositories.

The C++ source code of these applications can be found on MDN web docs which is maintained by open community of developers.

MySQL Server

MySQL is one of the world’s most popular open source database software. It has over 100 million copies downloaded or distributed throughout its history. (source: DB-Engines)

Many of the world’s largest and fastest-growing organizations use MySQL to save time and money; powering their high-volume web sites, critical business systems, and packaged software.

MySQL open source C++ code is available at GitHub.

Alias System – Autodesk Maya

Maya 3D software was originally developed by Alias System Corporation and was later carried over by Autodesk.

Maya® 3D animation, modeling, simulation, and rendering software provides an integrated, powerful tool set. Use it for animation, environments, motion graphics, virtual reality, and character creation.

AutoDesk open source center hosts plenty of C++ projects.

Winamp Media Player

Winamp is the ultimate media player, allows you to manage audio and video files, rip and burn CDs, enjoy free music, access and share your music and videos remotely.

Winamp supports dozens of media file formats, plugin systems, media library, media monitor and tons of different skins.

It was written in C and C++ and initially released in 1997.


12D Solutions

12D Solutions Pty Ltd is an Australian software developer specializing in civil engineering and surveying applications and water engineering.

Computer Aided Design system for surveying, civil engineering, and more.

12d Model is a powerful terrain modelling, surveying and civil engineering software package written in C/C++.

12dPL is based on a subset of the C++ language with special extensions to allow easy manipulation of 12d Model data.

Bloomberg RDBMS

Providing real-time financial information to investors.

Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.

Bloomberg‘s distributed RDBMS uses C as it’s core platform development.

The Basic Development Environment and a set of foundation libraries used at Bloomberg are written in C++.

Callas Software

Callas software develops PDF technology for publishing, print production, document exchange and document archiving. 

Products include pdfToolbox, pdfChip, pdfaPilot, pdfGoHTML.

Functionality in the pdfToolbox, pdfaPilot and pdfChip are available in the form of C/C++ SDKs or command line versions. It can run on Windows, macOS and Linux as well as Sun Solaris and AIX. For the C/C++ SDKs wrappers are provided for Java and .Net.

Image Systems

ImageSystems provides the world leading motion analysis programs and film scanner systems.

They deliver powerful and accurate measurement solutions through image post processing analysis.

TrackEye product provides C++ SDKs that requires fairly advance C++ knowledge.

Operating Systems written in C/C++

Microsoft Operating Systems

Literally most of the Microsoft software are developed using various flavors of Visual C++ or simply C++.

Most of the big applications like Windows 95, 98, ME, 200 and XP are also written in C++.

Also Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer and Visual Studio are written in Visual C++.

List of all Microsoft open source applications written in C++ can be found here at Microsoft open source projects.

Apple – OS X Operating System

Few parts of Apple OS X are written in C.

Specifically kernel layer and hardware device drivers are written in C programming language.

Few other applications such as Xcode IDE are written in C, C++, Objective-C and Objective-C++.

Symbian Operating System

Symbian Operating System (discontinued mobile operating system) was also developed using C++.

This was one of the most widespread OS’s for cellular phones till the end of 2010.

Symbian OS source code written in C++ can be found at github. Some C source code can be found here too.


In conclusion, C/C++ has been a popular choice for developing high-performance and efficient applications for decades. In this article, we have explored the top 10 applications that were developed using C/C++. From operating systems to video games, C/C++ continues to prove its value in a wide range of software development areas. As you can see, if you’re looking for performance, speed, and reliability, C/C++ is an excellent choice for your next project. We hope this article has been informative and has helped you better understand the power of C/C++ in software development

Credits: Photos from Unsplash

Categories: Blog
M. Saqib: Saqib is Master-level Senior Software Engineer with over 14 years of experience in designing and developing large-scale software and web applications. He has more than eight years experience of leading software development teams. Saqib provides consultancy to develop software systems and web services for Fortune 500 companies. He has hands-on experience in C/C++ Java, JavaScript, PHP and .NET Technologies. Saqib owns and write contents on since 2004.
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