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Cloning a GitHub repository creates a local copy of the remote repo. This allows you to make all of your edits locally rather than directly in the source files of the origin repo. Here’s how to clone a GitHub repository.

The first thing you’ll need to do is download and install Git on your computer. The installation process is straightforward and brings you through a lot of boilerplate information. The one thing you want to be careful with is that you allow Git to be used from the command line.

Git from the command line

Let the wizard guide you through the rest. Once the installation is complete, you’ll be ready to clone the GitHub repository.

RELATED: How to Install Software Using Git on Linux

The next thing you’ll want to do is decide where to store the repo on your local machine. We recommend making a memorable folder so that you can easily navigate to it using the Command Prompt later.

Once you’ve decided where you’d like to store the repo, open your web browser and enter the GitHub repository’s URL. In this example, we’ll use a popular repository that contains JavaScript based examples meant for research and learning.

On the right side of the screen, below the “Contributors” tab, you’ll see a green button that says “Clone or Download.” Go ahead and click that. In the window that appears, select the “Clipboard” icon to copy the repo URL to your clipboard.

Copy repo URL to clipboard

Next, open the Command Prompt (on Windows) or whichever terminal you happen to be using on your computer.

RELATED: 34 Useful Keyboard Shortcuts for the Windows Command Prompt

In the terminal, navigate to the location in which you would like to store the repo. You can do so by typing the following command:

$ cd <directory>

In our example, we would enter $ cd Documents\GIT local .

change directory to Git folder

Note: You can skip this step by using git <repo-url> <directory> to clone the repo directly to the specified directory instead.

Now, with the repo URL still copied to your clipboard, it’s time to clone the repo. Enter the following command:

$ git clone <repo-url>

In this case, we’d use $ git clone

git clone command

Give the process a few moments to complete. Here’s what it looks like if everything went smoothly.

repo clone complete

As a matter of good practice, check to make sure that the repository is on your machine. To do so, navigate to the directory in which it was stored.

javascript-algorithms files stored locally

You can see here that the “javascript-algorithms” repo was successfully cloned to our “Git local” folder.

Now you can start making edits to the directory using your favorite text editor!

RELATED: What Is GitHub, and What Is It Used For?

Marshall Gunnell
Marshall Gunnell is a writer with experience in the data storage industry. He worked at Synology, and most recently as CMO and technical staff writer at StorageReview. He's currently an API/Software Technical Writer at LINE Corporation in Tokyo, Japan, runs ITEnterpriser, a data-storage and cybersecurity-focused online media, and plays with development, with his RAID calculator being his first public project.
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