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This command is used to create sparse checkouts, which means that it changes the working tree from having all tracked files present, to only have a subset of them. 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 (which is recommended), 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.
THIS COMMAND IS EXPERIMENTAL. ITS BEHAVIOR, AND THE BEHAVIOR OF OTHER COMMANDS IN THE PRESENCE OF SPARSE-CHECKOUTS, WILL LIKELY CHANGE IN THE FUTURE.
Describe the directories or patterns in the sparse-checkout file.
Enable the necessary sparse-checkout config settings (
index.sparse) if they are not already set to the desired values, and write a set of patterns to the sparse-checkout file from the list of arguments following the set subcommand. Update the working directory to match the new patterns.
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 and the documentation of
extensions.worktreeConfigin git-config for more details.
--stdinoption is provided, the directories or patterns are read from standard in as a newline-delimited list instead of from the arguments.
--coneis passed or
core.sparseCheckoutConeis enabled, the input list is considered a list of directories. This allows for better performance with a limited set of patterns (see CONE PATTERN SET below). 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. Note that the set command will write 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. This may become the default in the future; --no-cone can be passed to request non-cone mode.
--no-coneis passed or
core.sparseCheckoutConeis not enabled, the input list is considered a list of patterns. This mode is harder to use and less performant, and is thus not recommended. See the "Sparse Checkout" section of git-read-tree and the "Pattern Set" sections below for more details.
--[no-]sparse-indexoption 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 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-indexto 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
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 reapplylater after cleaning up affected paths (e.g. resolving conflicts, undoing or committing changes, etc.).
reapplycommand can also take
--[no-]sparse-indexflags, with the same meaning as the flags from the
setcommand, in order to change which sparsity mode you are using without needing to also respecify all sparsity paths.
core.sparseCheckoutconfig setting, and restore the working directory to include all files.
Deprecated command that behaves like
setwith no specified paths. May be removed in the future.
setdid not handle all the necessary config settings, which meant that both
sethad to be called. Invoking both meant the
initstep would first remove nearly all tracked files (and in cone mode, ignored files too), then the
setstep 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.
initwould 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,
--sparse-indexoptions would not be remembered across the disable command, so the easy restore of calling a plain
initdecreased in utility.
"Sparse checkout" allows populating the working directory sparsely. It uses the skip-worktree bit (see git-update-index) 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.
$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 set to
set the patterns you want to use.
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
$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
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:
Recursive: All paths inside a directory are included.
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,
git sparse-checkout set A/B/C sets the directory
a recursive pattern, the directories
A/B are added as parent
patterns. The resulting sparse-checkout file is now
/* !/*/ /A/ !/A/*/ /A/B/ !/A/B/*/ /A/B/C/
Here, order matters, so the negative patterns are overridden by the positive patterns that appear lower in the file.
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 A/B/C
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
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,
git add and
git commit to store them, then remove any remaining files
manually to ensure Git can behave optimally.
If your repository contains one or more submodules, then submodules
are populated based on interactions with the
git submodule command.
git submodule init -- <path> will ensure the submodule
<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
checkout will not cause submodules to be automatically removed or
initialized even when switching between branches that remove or add
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.
Part of the git suite