Syncing a forked repo in the terminal

M Ferreira
M Ferreira

GitHub allows you to contribute to open source projects by making your own copy of a repository (repo). This is called a fork.

A fork is your very own copy of some code which you can make changes locally without fear of breaking anything upstream (more on this later). You are free to add some feature and suggest that new feature be added back to the upstream repository.

Forking creates a new context and a relationship between you and the original repository. The original repo is considered upstream branch and your fork to you is considered origin.

Checking to see who is who is very easy. After forking and cloning a repo run the following command in the terminal.

I have forked DefinitelyTyped.

clone repo:

git clone

Checking to see who is who is very easy. After forking and cloning a repo run the following command in the terminal.

cd DefinitelyTyped

issue this command in the terminal:

git remote -v


origin (fetch) origin (push)

origin is referring to me, as in my forked copy under my account, you can see this as it has my name mannuelf/DefinitelyTyped.git in the URL.


Merge upstream/master

What happens if DefinitelyTyped is updated and my fork has gotten out of date. I should git pull in those changes but it's not so straight forward.

You will have to fetch upstream/master and merge upstream/master into your local copy. Wait what the heck is upstream/master? Remember you are origin and they are upstream.

Connect to upstream repo

The connection to upstream is not configured by default, you have to tell your repo where the upstream repo is.

issue this command:

git remote add upstream

then check your config:

git remote -v
origin (fetch) origin (push) upstream (fetch) upstream (push)

Great, there you can see two new entries into your config upstream appears twice, once for fetching and once for push.


git fetch upstream && git merge upstream/master

This will connect upstream to DefinitelyTyped and fetch all new changes and merge them into my origin branch.


remote: Enumerating objects: 241, done. remote: Counting objects: 100% (241/241), done. remote: Compressing objects: 100% (183/183), done. remote: Total 241 (delta 137), reused 115 (delta 58), pack-reused 0 Receiving objects: 100% (241/241), 106.39 KiB | 999.00 KiB/s, done. Resolving deltas: 100% (137/137), completed with 18 local objects. types/findup-sync/findup-sync-tests.ts | 16 +- types/findup-sync/index.d.ts | 18 +- types/firstline/firstline-tests.ts | 13 +- ...


Newer projects on GitHub initialise by default to main branch and not master. So the command you issue should changed based on the project.

If the project is using main branch issue:

git fetch upstream && git pull upstream/main

Stay up to date

Consider keeping up to date with software development and design by signing up to my newsletter.

I will only email you when I make a new post.