C++ Exceptions Support

By default, exception catching is disabled in Emscripten. For example, if you compile the following program:

#include <stdio.h>

int main() {
  try {
    throw 1;
    puts("(never reached)");
  } catch(...) {
  return 0;

The first throw will abort the program and you’ll see something like this in the output:

Aborted(Assertion failed: Exception thrown, but exception catching is not enabled. Compile with -sNO_DISABLE_EXCEPTION_CATCHING or -sEXCEPTION_CATCHING_ALLOWED=[..] to catch.)

If you want to opt-in, you have two following options.

Emscripten (JavaScript-based) Exception Support

First, you can enable exceptions via Emscripten’s JavaScript-based support. To enable it, pass -fexceptions at both compile time and link time.

When you rebuild the example above with this flag, the output will change to:


Note that this option has relatively high overhead, but it will work on all JavaScript engines with WebAssembly support. You can reduce the overhead by specifying a list of allowed functions in which exceptions are enabled, see the EXCEPTION_CATCHING_ALLOWED setting.

WebAssembly Exception Handling-based Support

Alternatively, you can opt-in to the native WebAssembly exception handling proposal. To enable it, pass -fwasm-exceptions at both compile time and link time.

Rebuilding the example with this flag will result in the same output as with -fexceptions above:


This option leverages a new feature that brings built-in instructions for throwing and catching exceptions to WebAssembly. As a result, it can reduce code size and performance overhead compared to the JavaScript-based implementation. This option is currently supported in several major web browsers, but may not be supported in all WebAssembly engines yet.

Debugging Exceptions

Stack Traces

For native Wasm exceptions, when ASSERTIONS is enabled, uncaught exceptions will print stack traces for debugging. ASSERTIONS is enabled by default in -O0 and disabled in optimized builds (-O1 and above). You can enable it by passing -sASSERTIONS to the emcc command line in optimized builds as well. To display Wasm function names in stack traces, you also need –profiling-funcs (or -g or -gsource-map).

In JavaScript, you can also examine the stack traces using WebAssembly.Exception.prototype.stack property. For example:

try {
  ... // some code that calls WebAssembly
} catch (e) {
  // Do something with e.stack

Stack traces within Wasm code are not supported in JavaScript-based exceptions.

Handling C++ Exceptions from JavaScript

You can also catch and examine the type and the message of C++ exceptions from JavaScript, in case they inherit from std::exception and thus have what method.

getExceptionMessage returns a list of two strings: [type, message]. the message is the result of calling what method in case the exception is a subclass of std::exception. Otherwise it will be just an empty string.

var sp = stackSave();
try {
  ... // some code that calls WebAssembly
} catch (e) {
} finally {

In case the thrown value is an integer 3, this will print int,, because the message part is empty. If the thrown value is an instance of MyException that is a subclass of std::exception and its what message is My exception thrown, this code will print MyException,My exception thrown.

To use this function, you need to pass -sEXPORT_EXCEPTION_HANDLING_HELPERS to the options. You need to enable either of Emscripten EH or Wasm EH to use this option.

If the stack pointer has been moved due to stack allocations within the Wasm function before an exception is thrown, you can use stackSave() and stackRestore() to restore the stack pointer so that no stack memory is leaked.


If you catch a Wasm exception and do not rethrow it, you need to free the storage associated with the exception in JS using decrementExceptionRefcount method because the exception catching code in Wasm does not have a chance to free it. But currently due to an implementation issue that Wasm EH and Emscripten (JS-based) EH, you need to call incrementExceptionRefcount additionally in case of Emscripten EH. See https://github.com/emscripten-core/emscripten/issues/17115 for details and a code example.

Using Exceptions and setjmp-longjmp Together

See Using Exceptions and setjmp-longjmp Together.