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C++/Qt plugins

A native plugin is a Qt Plugin, i.e. a shared library providing a particular interface. Their distribution is not that trivial due to ABI compatibilitiy (system libraries, compiler(-flags), system architecture, Qt versions, etc…). Therefore developing native plugins is rather worth it if you plan to get your code upstream and finally be shipped with the official plugins. For personal workflows or less complex use cases Python plugins are the way to go.

Getting started

The easiest way to build plugins is to checkout the source tree and build the entire app including plugins. Open the CMake project in your favourite C++ IDE and make it build and run. From there on you could simply copy an existing plugin. The following gives a brief overview. Details may change every now and then anyway.


Having a standardized plugin project structure the albert_plugin macro takes care of most CMake boilerplate code you will need. Read the documentation header of the CMake module before you proceed.

A minimal working CMakeLists.txt:

cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 3.16)
project(my_plugin VERSION 1.0)
find_package(Albert REQUIRED)

Check the CMakeLists.txt files of the official plugins for reference.


A minimal metadata file:

"name": "My Plugin",
"description": "Do useful stuff",
"authors": ["@myname"],
"license": "MIT",
"url": "",

Check the metadata.json files of the official plugins for reference.


On the C++ side Qt plugins have to inherit QObject. The relevant base classes do that for you.

They also have to contain the Q_OBJECT macro and set an interface identifier and the metadata. The ALBERT_PLUGIN macro takes care of this.

Albert expects plugins to inherit the PluginInstance class. Usually you dont want to subclass PluginInstance directly but rather ExtensionPlugin which implements the Extension interface using the metadata of PluginInstance. The Extension class is the virtual base of all extension (See the inheritance diagram for the core interfaces).

A working example plugin implementing the GlobalQueryHandler interface:

#pragma once
class Plugin : public albert::ExtensionPlugin,
handleGlobalQuery(const albert::Query*) const override
{ return {}; }
Convenience base class for extension plugins.
Definition: extensionplugin.h:20
Abstract global query handler.
Definition: globalqueryhandler.h:23
virtual std::vector< RankItem > handleGlobalQuery(const Query *) const =0
The query handling function.
Common query object.
Definition: query.h:20
Declare a class as native Albert plugin.
Definition: plugininstance.h:101

Check the plugin header files of the official plugins for reference.

Ultimately you want to display Items and use their Actions.

Other classes worth noting:

What's next?