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


       git-sparse-checkout - Reduce your working tree to a subset of tracked


       git sparse-checkout <subcommand> [<options>]


       This command is used to create sparse checkouts, which change the working
       tree from having all tracked files present to only having a subset of
       those files. It can also switch which subset of files are present, or
       undo and go back to having all tracked files present in the working copy.

       The subset of files is chosen by providing a list of directories in cone
       mode (the default), or by providing a list of patterns in non-cone mode.

       When in a sparse-checkout, other Git commands behave a bit differently.
       For example, switching branches will not update paths outside the
       sparse-checkout directories/patterns, and git commit -a will not record
       paths outside the sparse-checkout directories/patterns as deleted.



           Describe the directories or patterns in the sparse-checkout file.

           Enable the necessary sparse-checkout config settings
           (core.sparseCheckout, core.sparseCheckoutCone, and index.sparse) if
           they are not already set to the desired values, populate the
           sparse-checkout file from the list of arguments following the set
           subcommand, and update the working directory to match.

           To ensure that adjusting the sparse-checkout settings within a
           worktree does not alter the sparse-checkout settings in other
           worktrees, the set subcommand will upgrade your repository config to
           use worktree-specific config if not already present. The sparsity
           defined by the arguments to the set subcommand are stored in the
           worktree-specific sparse-checkout file. See git-worktree(1) and the
           documentation of extensions.worktreeConfig in git-config(1) for more

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

           By default, the input list is considered a list of directories,
           matching the output of git ls-tree -d --name-only. This includes
           interpreting pathnames that begin with a double quote (") as C-style
           quoted strings. Note that all files under the specified directories
           (at any depth) will be included in the sparse checkout, as well as
           files that are siblings of either the given directory or any of its
           ancestors (see CONE PATTERN SET below for more details). In the past,
           this was not the default, and --cone needed to be specified or
           core.sparseCheckoutCone needed to be enabled.

           When --no-cone is passed, the input list is considered a list of
           patterns. This mode has a number of drawbacks, including not working
           with some options like --sparse-index. As explained in the "Non-cone
           Problems" section below, we do not recommend using it.

           Use the --[no-]sparse-index option to use a sparse index (the default
           is to not use it). A sparse index reduces the size of the index to be
           more closely aligned with your sparse-checkout definition. This can
           have significant performance advantages for commands such as git
           status or git add. This feature is still experimental. Some commands
           might be slower with a sparse index until they are properly
           integrated with the feature.

           WARNING: Using a sparse index requires modifying the index in a way
           that is not completely understood by external tools. If you have
           trouble with this compatibility, then run git sparse-checkout init
           --no-sparse-index to rewrite your index to not be sparse. Older
           versions of Git will not understand the sparse directory entries
           index extension and may fail to interact with your repository until
           it is disabled.

           Update the sparse-checkout file to include additional directories (in
           cone mode) or patterns (in non-cone mode). By default, these
           directories or patterns are read from the command-line arguments, but
           they can be read from stdin using the --stdin option.

           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,

           The reapply command can also take --[no-]cone and --[no-]sparse-index
           flags, with the same meaning as the flags from the set command, in
           order to change which sparsity mode you are using without needing to
           also respecify all sparsity paths.

           Disable the core.sparseCheckout config setting, and restore the
           working directory to include all files.

           Deprecated command that behaves like set with no specified paths. May
           be removed in the future.

           Historically, set did not handle all the necessary config settings,
           which meant that both init and set had to be called. Invoking both
           meant the init step would first remove nearly all tracked files (and
           in cone mode, ignored files too), then the set step would add many of
           the tracked files (but not ignored files) back. In addition to the
           lost files, the performance and UI of this combination was poor.

           Also, historically, init would not actually initialize the
           sparse-checkout file if it already existed. This meant it was
           possible to return to a sparse-checkout without remembering which
           paths to pass to a subsequent set or add command. However, --cone and
           --sparse-index options would not be remembered across the disable
           command, so the easy restore of calling a plain init decreased in


       git sparse-checkout set MY/DIR1 SUB/DIR2
           Change to a sparse checkout with all files (at any depth) under
           MY/DIR1/ and SUB/DIR2/ present in the working copy (plus all files
           immediately under MY/ and SUB/ and the toplevel directory). If
           already in a sparse checkout, change which files are present in the
           working copy to this new selection. Note that this command will also
           delete all ignored files in any directory that no longer has either
           tracked or non-ignored-untracked files present.

       git sparse-checkout disable
           Repopulate the working directory with all files, disabling sparse

       git sparse-checkout add SOME/DIR/ECTORY
           Add all files under SOME/DIR/ECTORY/ (at any depth) to the sparse
           checkout, as well as all files immediately under SOME/DIR/ and
           immediately under SOME/. Must already be in a sparse checkout before
           using this command.

       git sparse-checkout reapply
           It is possible for commands to update the working tree in a way that
           does not respect the selected sparsity directories. This can come
           from tools external to Git writing files, or even affect Git commands
           because of either special cases (such as hitting conflicts when
           merging/rebasing), or because some commands didn't fully support
           sparse checkouts (e.g. the old recursive merge backend had only
           limited support). This command reapplies the existing sparse
           directory specifications to make the working directory match.


       "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, and the file is not present in the working tree, then its
       absence is ignored. Git will avoid populating 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.


       The $GIT_DIR/info/sparse-checkout file populated by the set and add
       subcommands is defined to be a bunch of patterns (one per line) using the
       same syntax as .gitignore files. In cone mode, these patterns are
       restricted to matching directories (and users only ever need supply or
       see directory names), while in non-cone mode any gitignore-style pattern
       is permitted. Using the full gitignore-style patterns in non-cone mode
       has a number of shortcomings:

       o   Fundamentally, it makes various worktree-updating processes (pull,
           merge, rebase, switch, reset, checkout, etc.) require O(N*M) pattern
           matches, where N is the number of patterns and M is the number of
           paths in the index. This scales poorly.

       o   Avoiding the scaling issue has to be done via limiting the number of
           patterns via specifying leading directory name or glob.

       o   Passing globs on the command line is error-prone as users may forget
           to quote the glob, causing the shell to expand it into all matching
           files and pass them all individually along to sparse-checkout
           set/add. While this could also be a problem with e.g. "git grep --
           *.c", mistakes with grep/log/status appear in the immediate output.
           With sparse-checkout, the mistake gets recorded at the time the
           sparse-checkout command is run and might not be problematic until the
           user later switches branches or rebases or merges, thus putting a
           delay between the user's error and when they have a chance to
           catch/notice it.

       o   Related to the previous item, sparse-checkout has an add subcommand
           but no remove subcommand. Even if a remove subcommand were added,
           undoing an accidental unquoted glob runs the risk of "removing too
           much", as it may remove entries that had been included before the
           accidental add.

       o   Non-cone mode uses gitignore-style patterns to select what to include
           (with the exception of negated patterns), while .gitignore files use
           gitignore-style patterns to select what to exclude (with the
           exception of negated patterns). The documentation on gitignore-style
           patterns usually does not talk in terms of matching or non-matching,
           but on what the user wants to "exclude". This can cause confusion for
           users trying to learn how to specify sparse-checkout patterns to get
           their desired behavior.

       o   Every other git subcommand that wants to provide "special path
           pattern matching" of some sort uses pathspecs, but non-cone mode for
           sparse-checkout uses gitignore patterns, which feels inconsistent.

       o   It has edge cases where the "right" behavior is unclear. Two

               First, two users are in a subdirectory, and the first runs
                  git sparse-checkout set '/toplevel-dir/*.c'
               while the second runs
                  git sparse-checkout set relative-dir
               Should those arguments be transliterated into
               before inserting into the sparse-checkout file?  The user who typed
               the first command is probably aware that arguments to set/add are
               supposed to be patterns in non-cone mode, and probably would not be
               happy with such a transliteration.  However, many gitignore-style
               patterns are just paths, which might be what the user who typed the
               second command was thinking, and they'd be upset if their argument
               wasn't transliterated.

               Second, what should bash-completion complete on for set/add commands
               for non-cone users?  If it suggests paths, is it exacerbating the
               problem above?  Also, if it suggests paths, what if the user has a
               file or directory that begins with either a '!' or '#' or has a '*',
               '\', '?', '[', or ']' in its name?  And if it suggests paths, will
               it complete "/pro" to "/proc" (in the root filesytem) rather than to
               "/progress.txt" in the current directory?  (Note that users are
               likely to want to start paths with a leading '/' in non-cone mode,
               for the same reason that .gitignore files often have one.)
               Completing on files or directories might give nasty surprises in
               all these cases.

       o   The excessive flexibility made other extensions essentially
           impractical.  --sparse-index is likely impossible in non-cone mode;
           even if it is somehow feasible, it would have been far more work to
           implement and may have been too slow in practice. Some ideas for
           adding coupling between partial clones and sparse checkouts are only
           practical with a more restricted set of paths as well.

       For all these reasons, non-cone mode is deprecated. Please switch to
       using cone mode.


       The "cone mode", which is the default, lets you specify only what
       directories to include. For any directory specified, all paths below that
       directory will be included, and any paths immediately under leading
       directories (including the toplevel directory) will also be included.
       Thus, if you specified the directory Documentation/technical/ then your
       sparse checkout would contain:

       o   all files in the toplevel-directory

       o   all files immediately under Documentation/

       o   all files at any depth under Documentation/technical/

       Also, in cone mode, even if no directories are specified, then the files
       in the toplevel directory will be included.

       When changing the sparse-checkout patterns in cone mode, Git will inspect
       each tracked directory that is not within the sparse-checkout cone to see
       if it contains any untracked files. If all of those files are ignored due
       to the .gitignore patterns, then the directory will be deleted. If any of
       the untracked files within that directory is not ignored, then no
       deletions will occur within that directory and a warning message will
       appear. If these files are important, then reset your sparse-checkout
       definition so they are included, use git add and git commit to store
       them, then remove any remaining files manually to ensure Git can behave

       See also the "Internals -- Cone Pattern Set" section to learn how the
       directories are transformed under the hood into a subset of the Full
       Pattern Set of sparse-checkout.


       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

       The sparse-checkout file uses the same syntax as .gitignore files; see
       gitignore(5) for details. Here, though, the patterns are usually being
       used to select which files to include rather than which files to exclude.
       (However, it can get a bit confusing since gitignore-style patterns have
       negations defined by patterns which begin with a !, so you can also
       select files to not include.)

       For example, to select everything, and then to remove the file unwanted
       (so that every file will appear in your working tree except the file
       named unwanted):

           git sparse-checkout set --no-cone '/*' '!unwanted'

       These patterns are just placed into the $GIT_DIR/info/sparse-checkout
       as-is, so the contents of that file at this point would be


       See also the "Sparse Checkout" section of git-read-tree(1) to learn more
       about the gitignore-style patterns used in sparse checkouts.


       In cone mode, only directories are accepted, but they are translated into
       the same gitignore-style patterns used in the full pattern set. We refer
       to the particular patterns used in those mode as being of one of two

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

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

       Since cone mode always includes files at the toplevel, when running git
       sparse-checkout set with no directories specified, the toplevel directory
       is added as a parent pattern. At this point, the sparse-checkout file
       contains the following patterns:


       This says "include everything immediately under the toplevel directory,
       but nothing at any level below that."

       When in cone mode, the git sparse-checkout set subcommand takes a list of
       directories. 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.

       Unless core.sparseCheckoutCone is explicitly set to false, 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. If they do not match, git will behave
       as though core.sparseCheckoutCone was false, regardless of its setting.

       In the cone mode case, despite the fact that full patterns are written to
       the $GIT_DIR/info/sparse-checkout file, 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 2.37.0                         06/27/2022              GIT-SPARSE-CHECKOU(1)

git 2.37.0 - Generated Mon Jun 27 18:23:28 CDT 2022
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