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man pages section 1: User Commands

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Updated: Wednesday, February 9, 2022

git-sparse-checkout (1)


git-sparse-checkout - checkout configuration, which reduces the checkout to a set of paths given by a list of patterns.


git sparse-checkout <subcommand> [options]


GIT-SPARSE-CHECKOU(1)             Git Manual             GIT-SPARSE-CHECKOU(1)

       git-sparse-checkout - Initialize and modify the sparse-checkout
       configuration, which reduces the checkout to a set of paths given by a
       list of patterns.

       git sparse-checkout <subcommand> [options]

       Initialize and modify the sparse-checkout configuration, which reduces
       the checkout to a set of paths given by a list of patterns.


           Describe the patterns in the sparse-checkout file.

           Enable the core.sparseCheckout setting. If the sparse-checkout file
           does not exist, then populate it with patterns that match every
           file in the root directory and no other directories, then will
           remove all directories tracked by Git. Add patterns to the
           sparse-checkout file to repopulate the working directory.

           To avoid interfering with other worktrees, it first enables the
           extensions.worktreeConfig setting and makes sure to set the
           core.sparseCheckout setting in the worktree-specific config file.

           When --cone is provided, the core.sparseCheckoutCone setting is
           also set, allowing for better performance with a limited set of
           patterns (see CONE PATTERN SET below).

           Write a set of patterns to the sparse-checkout file, as given as a
           list of arguments following the set subcommand. Update the working
           directory to match the new patterns. Enable the core.sparseCheckout
           config setting if it is not already enabled.

           When the --stdin option is provided, the patterns are read from
           standard in as a newline-delimited list instead of from the

           When core.sparseCheckoutCone is enabled, the input list is
           considered a list of directories instead of sparse-checkout
           patterns. The command writes patterns to the sparse-checkout file
           to include all files contained in those directories (recursively)
           as well as files that are siblings of ancestor directories. The
           input format matches the output of git ls-tree --name-only. This
           includes interpreting pathnames that begin with a double quote (")
           as C-style quoted strings.

           Update the sparse-checkout file to include additional patterns. By
           default, these patterns are read from the command-line arguments,
           but they can be read from stdin using the --stdin option. When
           core.sparseCheckoutCone is enabled, the given patterns are
           interpreted as directory names as in the set subcommand.

           Reapply the sparsity pattern rules to paths in the working tree.
           Commands like merge or rebase can materialize paths to do their
           work (e.g. in order to show you a conflict), and other
           sparse-checkout commands might fail to sparsify an individual file
           (e.g. because it has unstaged changes or conflicts). In such cases,
           it can make sense to run git sparse-checkout reapply later after
           cleaning up affected paths (e.g. resolving conflicts, undoing or
           committing changes, etc.).

           Disable the core.sparseCheckout config setting, and restore the
           working directory to include all files. Leaves the sparse-checkout
           file intact so a later git sparse-checkout init command may return
           the working directory to the same state.

       "Sparse checkout" allows populating the working directory sparsely. It
       uses the skip-worktree bit (see git-update-index(1)) to tell Git
       whether a file in the working directory is worth looking at. If the
       skip-worktree bit is set, then the file is ignored in the working
       directory. Git will not populate the contents of those files, which
       makes a sparse checkout helpful when working in a repository with many
       files, but only a few are important to the current user.

       The $GIT_DIR/info/sparse-checkout file is used to define the
       skip-worktree reference bitmap. When Git updates the working directory,
       it updates the skip-worktree bits in the index based on this file. The
       files matching the patterns in the file will appear in the working
       directory, and the rest will not.

       To enable the sparse-checkout feature, run git sparse-checkout init to
       initialize a simple sparse-checkout file and enable the
       core.sparseCheckout config setting. Then, run git sparse-checkout set
       to modify the patterns in the sparse-checkout file.

       To repopulate the working directory with all files, use the git
       sparse-checkout disable command.

       By default, the sparse-checkout file uses the same syntax as .gitignore

       While $GIT_DIR/info/sparse-checkout is usually used to specify what
       files are included, you can also specify what files are not included,
       using negative patterns. For example, to remove the file unwanted:


       The full pattern set allows for arbitrary pattern matches and
       complicated inclusion/exclusion rules. These can result in O(N*M)
       pattern matches when updating the index, where N is the number of
       patterns and M is the number of paths in the index. To combat this
       performance issue, a more restricted pattern set is allowed when
       core.sparseCheckoutCone is enabled.

       The accepted patterns in the cone pattern set are:

        1. Recursive: All paths inside a directory are included.

        2. Parent: All files immediately inside a directory are included.

       In addition to the above two patterns, we also expect that all files in
       the root directory are included. If a recursive pattern is added, then
       all leading directories are added as parent patterns.

       By default, when running git sparse-checkout init, the root directory
       is added as a parent pattern. At this point, the sparse-checkout file
       contains the following patterns:


       This says "include everything in root, but nothing two levels below

       When in cone mode, the git sparse-checkout set subcommand takes a list
       of directories instead of a list of sparse-checkout patterns. In this
       mode, the command git sparse-checkout set A/B/C sets the directory
       A/B/C as a recursive pattern, the directories A and A/B are added as
       parent patterns. The resulting sparse-checkout file is now


       Here, order matters, so the negative patterns are overridden by the
       positive patterns that appear lower in the file.

       If core.sparseCheckoutCone=true, then Git will parse the
       sparse-checkout file expecting patterns of these types. Git will warn
       if the patterns do not match. If the patterns do match the expected
       format, then Git will use faster hash- based algorithms to compute
       inclusion in the sparse-checkout.

       In the cone mode case, the git sparse-checkout list subcommand will
       list the directories that define the recursive patterns. For the
       example sparse-checkout file above, the output is as follows:

           $ git sparse-checkout list

       If core.ignoreCase=true, then the pattern-matching algorithm will use a
       case-insensitive check. This corrects for case mismatched filenames in
       the git sparse-checkout set command to reflect the expected cone in the
       working directory.

       If your repository contains one or more submodules, then submodules are
       populated based on interactions with the git submodule command.
       Specifically, git submodule init -- <path> will ensure the submodule at
       <path> is present, while git submodule deinit [-f] -- <path> will
       remove the files for the submodule at <path> (including any untracked
       files, uncommitted changes, and unpushed history). Similar to how
       sparse-checkout removes files from the working tree but still leaves
       entries in the index, deinitialized submodules are removed from the
       working directory but still have an entry in the index.

       Since submodules may have unpushed changes or untracked files, removing
       them could result in data loss. Thus, changing sparse
       inclusion/exclusion rules will not cause an already checked out
       submodule to be removed from the working copy. Said another way, just
       as checkout will not cause submodules to be automatically removed or
       initialized even when switching between branches that remove or add
       submodules, using sparse-checkout to reduce or expand the scope of
       "interesting" files will not cause submodules to be automatically
       deinitialized or initialized either.

       Further, the above facts mean that there are multiple reasons that
       "tracked" files might not be present in the working copy: sparsity
       pattern application from sparse-checkout, and submodule initialization
       state. Thus, commands like git grep that work on tracked files in the
       working copy may return results that are limited by either or both of
       these restrictions.

       git-read-tree(1) gitignore(5)

       Part of the git(1) suite

Git 2.31.1                        03/26/2021             GIT-SPARSE-CHECKOU(1)