MCUXpresso IDE: S-Record, Intel Hex and Binary Files

This is another article about the NXP MCUXpresso IDE (see “MCUXPresso IDE: Unified Eclipse IDE for NXPs ARM Cortex-M Microcontrollers“), this time it is about Post-build steps. Post-build steps are custom actions which can be executed after the build (or link phase), and are typically used to generate S-Record, Binary or Intel Hex files (see “S-Record, Intel Hex and Binary Files“).

Post Build Steps Details

Post Build Steps Details

MCUXpresso IDE Series

This article is part of a series to get up to speed using the new NXP MCUXpresso IDE. Published so far are:


Post Build Steps are part of the Eclipse CDT build tool integration. If using the GNU ARM Eclipse plugins as in Kinetis Design Studio, then it offers check boxes to run pre-configured post build steps e.g. for creating flash image files or printing the code size.

This post shows how to do the same in MCUXpresso IDE, either using post build steps or using a context menu on the executable file.

Post-Build Steps

The Post-build steps can be found under the C/C++ Build project settings, under the ‘Build Steps’ tab.

Post Build Steps

Post Build Steps

Pressing the ‘Edit’ button opens a dialog where I can edit the actions:

Post Build Steps Details

Post Build Steps Details

The default probably shows the following:

arm-none-eabi-size "${BuildArtifactFileName}"
# arm-none-eabi-objcopy -v -O binary "${BuildArtifactFileName}" "${BuildArtifactFileBaseName}.bin"
# checksum -p ${TargetChip} -d "${BuildArtifactFileBaseName}.bin"

The first command (arm-none-eabi-size) prints code size information (see “text, data and bss: Code and Data Size Explained“), with an output something like this in the console view:

   text       data        bss        dec        hex    filename
 540764        344      37032     578140      8d25c    MK64FN1M0xxx12_Project_Demo.axf

If there is a line starting with ‘#’, then everything following that will be ignored: that line plus all the lines which follow. Remove the ‘#’ to have the command executed.

To generate a binary file, use

arm-none-eabi-objcopy -v -O binary "${BuildArtifactFileName}" "${BuildArtifactFileBaseName}.bin"

To generate a S19/Motorola S-Record, use the following:

arm-none-eabi-objcopy -v -O srec "${BuildArtifactFileName}" "${BuildArtifactFileBaseName}.s19"

To generate Intel Hex, use the following:

arm-none-eabi-objcopy -v -O ihex "${BuildArtifactFileName}" "${BuildArtifactFileBaseName}.hex"

A description of all options for the GNU objcopy program can be found in

To change the length of S19 lines, the option

--srec-len <length>

is useful, e.g. –srec-len 128. See “S-Record Manipulation with GNU objcopy and Burner Utility“.

I can use multiple commands, such as the example below will produce S19, Intel Hex and Binary files:

Generating binary, s-record and intel hex files

Generating binary, s-record and intel hex files

The command execution can be checked in the console view:

Output to Console

Output to Console

The files get generated into the build output folder:

Output Folder

Output Folder

Other than that, have a look at the (excellent) electronic documentation, using the menu Help > MCUXpresso IDE User Guide:

MCUXpresso User Guide

MCUXpresso User Guide

Then you search for what you are looking for:

Help about post build steps

Help about post build steps

Binary Utilities

If I only need a binary or Intel Hex file right away without using a post build step, I can use the ‘Binary Utilities’ menu. It does not have the ability to generate S19 files, but is otherwise very useful:

Update: later IDE version (e.g. v11.3.0) have added the menu to create S19 files.

Binary Utilities

Binary Utilities

💡 Make sure you select a binary (ELF/Dwarf .axf) file, otherwise the menu does not show up.

The interesting thing is that these menus are configurable, under the menu Window > Preferences > MCUXpresso IDE > Utilities:

Utility Menu Settings

Utility Menu Settings

Update: later IDE version (e.g. v11.3.0) have added the the setting for creating S19 files.

I cannot add more menu entries, and I cannot change the menu name. But I can change the menu action. So if I would like to create the S19 file instead of the Intel hex, I can change that entry. Or I can execute multiple commands separated by a semicolon:

arm-none-eabi-objcopy -O ihex "${FileName}" "${FileBaseName}.hex"; arm-none-eabi-objcopy -v -O srec "${FileName}" "${FileBaseName}.s19"

💡 Make sure to use a semicolon *plus a space* as separator. A semicolon alone will give an error message.

Creating both Hex and S19 Files

Creating both Hex and S19 Files

💡 The settings are part of the workspace settings, so if you want this for multiple workspace, you have to export/import the settings or do it in each workspace.


The MCUXpresso IDE has a versatile way to generate binary, S19 or Intel Hex files using post-build steps. For creating hex and binary files ‘ad-hoc’, I can use the Binary context menu on the ELF/Dwarf executable file. As a bonus feature, I can change the Binary Utilities commands.

And if you want to generate more advanced files or generating complex checksums, have a look at the ‘SRecord’ tool described in my other article: “CRC Checksum Generation with ‘SRecord’ Tools for GNU and Eclipse

Happy Hexing 🙂


20 thoughts on “MCUXpresso IDE: S-Record, Intel Hex and Binary Files

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  5. Hi Erich, if someone, like me, prefers the SystemV list (-A) instead of Berkeley (-B) format:
    arm-none-eabi-size -A “${BuildArtifactFileName}”


  6. Have you tried to flash a binary or hex file generated with this procedure? I am trying to do this and I’m having problems. I am trying with a K22F freedom board and the SDK 2.0 led_output example. I try to flash the .bin by dragging it to the FRDM-K22FJ drive and it doesn’t work. I just tried the same process using KDS 3.0 with the same SDK example (targeted for KDS) and it works. I compared the binaries but they are very different. The KDS generated binary is 1KB bigger. Not sure if something is missing in the McuXpresso binary.

    I have also tried with other procedures and file formats (hex, srec, J-link commander, etc).

    Any ideas?



    • Hi Carlos,
      I’m not using the .bin file loader on the FRDM boards, but I have used the bin and S19 files with the debugger and I have not seen any problems?
      I will try that tomorrow with a K64F board if this is helpful?


      • Hi Erich,

        Thank you for the fast reply. Sure if you can try it it would be great.

        I just found something, though. If I set SDK_DEBUGCONSOLE=1 the binary works. Any ideas?



        • Hi Carlos,
          the ‘SDK_DEBUGCONSOLE’ setting should not matter. Unless you are using semihosting? If so, it can block your target if you are not attaching a debugger. So using semihosting in general is a bad idea.
          I quickly tried bin files, and I can load them with the SEGGER MSD bootloader on the FRDM-K64F without any issues.


  7. Hi Erich,

    I am using the SDK 2.0 led_output example as-is. It does use semihosting (I believe most SDK examples do). As you pointed out this seems to be the issue. I can program bin files now.

    Thanks a lot for your help!


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