Fork a repo

A fork is a copy of a repository. Forking a repository allows you to freely experiment with changes without affecting the original project.

About forks

Most commonly, forks are used to either propose changes to someone else's project or to use someone else's project as a starting point for your own idea. You can fork a repository to create a copy of the repository and make changes without affecting the upstream repository. For more information, see "Working with forks."

Propose changes to someone else's project

For example, you can use forks to propose changes related to fixing a bug. Rather than logging an issue for a bug you've found, you can:

  • Fork the repository.
  • Make the fix.
  • Submit a pull request to the project owner.

Use someone else's project as a starting point for your own idea.

Open source software is based on the idea that by sharing code, we can make better, more reliable software. For more information, see the "About the Open Source Initiative" on the Open Source Initiative.

For more information about applying open source principles to your organization's development work on your enterprise, see GitHub's white paper "An introduction to innersource."

Prerequisties

If you haven't yet, you should first set up Git. Don't forget to set up authentication to your enterprise from Git as well.

Forking a repository

You might fork a project to propose changes to the upstream, or original, repository. In this case, it's good practice to regularly sync your fork with the upstream repository. To do this, you'll need to use Git on the command line. You can practice setting the upstream repository using the same octocat/Spoon-Knife repository you just forked.

  1. On your enterprise, navigate to the octocat/Spoon-Knife repository.
  2. In the top-right corner of the page, click Fork. Fork button

To download or find more information about GitHub CLI, see the GitHub CLI feature page.

To create a fork of a repository, use the gh repo fork subcommand.

gh repo fork repository

To create the fork in an organization, use the --org flag.

gh repo fork repository --org "octo-org"

Cloning your forked repository

Right now, you have a fork of the Spoon-Knife repository, but you don't have the files in that repository locally your computer.

  1. On GitHub AE, navigate to your fork of the Spoon-Knife repository.

  2. Above the list of files, click Code. "Code" button

  3. To clone the repository using HTTPS, under "Clone with HTTPS", click . To clone the repository using an SSH key, including a certificate issued by your organization's SSH certificate authority, click Use SSH, then click . To clone a repository using GitHub CLI, click Use GitHub CLI, then click . The clipboard icon for copying the URL to clone a repository

    The clipboard icon for copying the URL to clone a repository with GitHub CLI

  4. Open TerminalTerminalGit Bash.

  5. Change the current working directory to the location where you want the cloned directory.

  6. Type git clone, and then paste the URL you copied earlier. It will look like this, with your GitHub AE username instead of YOUR-USERNAME:

    $ git clone https://hostname/YOUR-USERNAME/Spoon-Knife
  7. Press Enter. Your local clone will be created.

    $ git clone https://hostname/YOUR-USERNAME/Spoon-Knife
    > Cloning into `Spoon-Knife`...
    > remote: Counting objects: 10, done.
    > remote: Compressing objects: 100% (8/8), done.
    > remove: Total 10 (delta 1), reused 10 (delta 1)
    > Unpacking objects: 100% (10/10), done.

To download or find more information about GitHub CLI, see the GitHub CLI feature page.

To create a clone of your fork, use the --clone flag.

gh repo fork repository --clone=true
  1. In the File menu, click Clone Repository.

    Clone menu option in the Mac app

    Clone menu option in the Windows app

  2. Click the tab that corresponds to the location of the repository you want to clone. You can also click URL to manually enter the repository location.

    Location tabs in the Clone a repository menu

    Location tabs in the Clone a repository menu

  3. Choose the repository you want to clone from the list.

    Clone a repository list

    Clone a repository list

  4. Click Choose... and navigate to a local path where you want to clone the repository.

    The choose button

    The choose button

  5. Click Clone.

    The clone button

    The clone button

Configuring Git to sync your fork with the original repository

When you fork a project in order to propose changes to the original repository, you can configure Git to pull changes from the original, or upstream, repository into the local clone of your fork.

  1. On GitHub AE, navigate to the octocat/Spoon-Knife repository.

  2. Above the list of files, click Code. "Code" button

  3. To clone the repository using HTTPS, under "Clone with HTTPS", click . To clone the repository using an SSH key, including a certificate issued by your organization's SSH certificate authority, click Use SSH, then click . To clone a repository using GitHub CLI, click Use GitHub CLI, then click . The clipboard icon for copying the URL to clone a repository

    The clipboard icon for copying the URL to clone a repository with GitHub CLI

  4. Open TerminalTerminalGit Bash.

  5. Change directories to the location of the fork you cloned.

    • To go to your home directory, type just cd with no other text.
    • To list the files and folders in your current directory, type ls.
    • To go into one of your listed directories, type cd your_listed_directory.
    • To go up one directory, type cd ...
  6. Type git remote -v and press Enter. You'll see the current configured remote repository for your fork.

    $ git remote -v
    > origin  https://hostname/YOUR_USERNAME/YOUR_FORK.git (fetch)
    > origin  https://hostname/YOUR_USERNAME/YOUR_FORK.git (push)
  7. Type git remote add upstream, and then paste the URL you copied in Step 2 and press Enter. It will look like this:

    $ git remote add upstream https://hostname/octocat/Spoon-Knife.git
  8. To verify the new upstream repository you've specified for your fork, type git remote -v again. You should see the URL for your fork as origin, and the URL for the original repository as upstream.

    $ git remote -v
    > origin    https://hostname/YOUR_USERNAME/YOUR_FORK.git (fetch)
    > origin    https://hostname/YOUR_USERNAME/YOUR_FORK.git (push)
    > upstream  https://hostname/ORIGINAL_OWNER/ORIGINAL_REPOSITORY.git (fetch)
    > upstream  https://hostname/ORIGINAL_OWNER/ORIGINAL_REPOSITORY.git (push)

Now, you can keep your fork synced with the upstream repository with a few Git commands. For more information, see "Syncing a fork."

To download or find more information about GitHub CLI, see the GitHub CLI feature page.

To configure a remote repository for the forked repository, use the --remote flag.

gh repo fork repository --remote=true

To specify the remote repository's name, use the --remote-name flag.

gh repo fork repository --remote-name "main-remote-repo"

Next steps

You can make any changes to a fork, including:

  • Creating branches: Branches allow you to build new features or test out ideas without putting your main project at risk.
  • Opening pull requests: If you are hoping to contribute back to the original repository, you can send a request to the original author to pull your fork into their repository by submitting a pull request.

Find another repository to fork

Fork a repository to start contributing to a project. If the policies for your enterprise permit forking internal and private repositories, you can fork a repository to your user account or any organization where you have repository creation permissions. For more information, see "Permission levels for an organization."

Celebrate

You have now forked a repository, practiced cloning your fork, and configured an upstream repository. For more information about cloning the fork and syncing the changes in a forked repository from your computer see "Set up Git."

You can also create a new repository where you can put all your projects and share the code on GitHub. For more information see, "Create a repository."

Each repository in GitHub AE is owned by a person or an organization. You can interact with the people, repositories, and organizations by connecting and following them on GitHub AE. For more information see "Be social."

GitHub AE has a great support community where you can ask for help and talk to people from around the world. Join the conversation on Github Support Community.

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