I've been trying to learn Ghidra by attempting to reverse the comctl32.dll system library, which has many of its functions documented. I started the de-compilation analysis in it, and after a while it showed this error message:

(I don't know how soon it happened. I had to leave it to do its thing as sadly it was taking too long.)

enter image description here

Then I happened to see that if I go to File -> Download PDB file, then select some folder on my drive and provide Microsoft symbol path https://msdl.microsoft.com/download/symbols and click "Download from URL" it seems to download it.

It then asks if I want to apply it to the project and if I click Yes it shows this warning:

enter image description here

So I'm obviously not doing it right.

Thus I was curious:

A) Is it possible to provide the symbol server path and have it download needed symbol files automatically?

B) If not, what's the sequence to load symbols for a particular binary? It seems like it wants to have symbols up front, but how would I know which files/imports it may need (besides the obvious binary file that I'm opening)?

2 Answers 2


One of the possible ways to do this - use radare2 or Cutter with the r2ghidra plugin. It will load the PDB and use Ghidra decompiler to do the actual decompilation.


Yea, it's not completely automatic like IDA Pro. Although the NSA dev team is very active on the project. And any US citizen should be able to add such a feature (via Java) and make a pull request to add it.

I found what you do is simply add the module to your Ghidra project. When you click on the module/executable it will ask "...Would you like to analyze it now?". Click "No", load your PDB, and then start the analysis manually via the "Analysis" menu option.

  • 1
    "any US citizen"?
    – c00000fd
    Oct 25, 2019 at 8:43
  • >>"any US citizen"? It's understanding they IP block some countries, I could be be wrong. Your welcome.
    – Sirmabus
    Oct 26, 2019 at 23:53
  • IP-block? I thought it runs locally on your computer & you can download it from GitHub. What do you mean?
    – c00000fd
    Oct 27, 2019 at 3:17
  • 3
    @c00000fd: it's a legal requirement, not technical
    – Igor Skochinsky
    Nov 22, 2019 at 9:22

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