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Fork a repo

A fork is a new repository that shares code and visibility settings with the original “upstream” repository.

About forks

A fork is a new repository that shares code and visibility settings with the original “upstream” repository. Forks are often used to iterate on ideas or changes before they are proposed back to the upstream repository, such as in open source projects or when a user does not have write access to 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 have 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."

Prerequisites

If you haven't yet, first set up Git and authentication with your enterprise from Git. For more information, see "Set up Git."

Forking a repository

You might fork a project to propose changes to the upstream 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 learn more about GitHub CLI, see "About GitHub CLI."

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 do not have the files in that repository locally on your computer.

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

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

  3. Copy the URL for the repository.

    • To clone the repository using HTTPS, under "HTTPS", click .
    • To clone the repository using an SSH key, including a certificate issued by your organization's SSH certificate authority, click SSH, then click .
    • To clone a repository using GitHub CLI, click GitHub CLI, then click . 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.
    > remote: Total 10 (delta 1), reused 10 (delta 1)
    > Unpacking objects: 100% (10/10), done.

To learn more about GitHub CLI, see "About GitHub CLI."

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 upstream repository

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

  1. On your enterprise, navigate to the octocat/Spoon-Knife repository.

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

  3. Copy the URL for the repository.

    • To clone the repository using HTTPS, under "HTTPS", click .
    • To clone the repository using an SSH key, including a certificate issued by your organization's SSH certificate authority, click SSH, then click .
    • To clone a repository using GitHub CLI, click GitHub CLI, then click . 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 will 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 3 and press Enter. It will look like this:

    $ git remote add upstream https://HOSTNAME/ORIGINAL_OWNER/Spoon-Knife.git
  8. To verify the new upstream repository you have specified for your fork, type git remote -v again. You should see the URL for your fork as origin, and the URL for the upstream 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 learn more about GitHub CLI, see "About GitHub CLI."

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"

Editing a fork

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 want to contribute back to the upstream 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 private and internal repositories, you can fork a repository to your personal account or an organization where you have repository creation permissions. For more information, see "Roles in an organization."

Next Steps

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. Creating a repository for your project allows you to store code in GitHub. This provides a backup of your work that you can choose to share with other developers. For more information, see “Create a repository.""

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