English ▾ Topics ▾ Version 2.26.0 ▾ git-sparse-checkout last updated in 2.45.2


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 arguments.

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.


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 files.

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 root."

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 those submodules will appear based on which you initialized with the git submodule command. If your sparse-checkout patterns exclude an initialized submodule, then that submodule will still appear in your working directory.


Part of the git[1] suite