SDL Wiki
(This is the documentation for SDL3, which is under heavy development and the API is changing! SDL2 is the current stable version!)


Initialize the SDL library.


int SDL_Init(Uint32 flags);

Function Parameters

flags subsystem initialization flags

Return Value

Returns 0 on success or a negative error code on failure; call SDL_GetError() for more information.


SDL_Init() simply forwards to calling SDL_InitSubSystem(). Therefore, the two may be used interchangeably. Though for readability of your code SDL_InitSubSystem() might be preferred.

The file I/O (for example: SDL_RWFromFile) and threading (SDL_CreateThread) subsystems are initialized by default. Message boxes (SDL_ShowSimpleMessageBox) also attempt to work without initializing the video subsystem, in hopes of being useful in showing an error dialog when SDL_Init fails. You must specifically initialize other subsystems if you use them in your application.

Logging (such as SDL_Log) works without initialization, too.

flags may be any of the following OR'd together:

Subsystem initialization is ref-counted, you must call SDL_QuitSubSystem() for each SDL_InitSubSystem() to correctly shutdown a subsystem manually (or call SDL_Quit() to force shutdown). If a subsystem is already loaded then this call will increase the ref-count and return.


This function is available since SDL 3.0.0.

Code Examples

#include "SDL.h"

int main(int argc, char* argv[])
        SDL_Log("Unable to initialize SDL: %s", SDL_GetError());
        return 1;

    /* ... */


    return 0;

CategoryAPI, CategoryInit

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