How to Download a single folder, directory or partial repo from a GitHub repo

Well, Most of the times I see hundreds of projects in a single repo. Now, if I don’t want to download a GB of code and then eventually use just 20mb of it. How is it fare?

So I wanted to create a downloader for it. Turns out I’m a little too late. There are already a couple of options which work flawlessly.

Go ahead and give it a try!


Git doesn’t support this, but Github does via SVN. If you checkout your code with subversion, Github will essentially convert the repo from git to subversion on the backend, then serve up the requested directory.

Here’s how you can use this feature to download a specific folder. I’ll use the popular javascript librarylodash as an example.

  1. Get the repo URL. First, copy the URL of the Github repo to your clipboard. github repo URL example
  2. Modify the URL for subversion. I want to download the folder at /docs from the masterbranch, so I will append trunk/docs. Full URL is now See my note below for a more in-depth explanation of why we must use this URL format.
  3. Download the folder. Go to the command line and grab the folder with SVN. svn checkout

You might not see any activity immediately because Github takes up to 30 seconds to convert larger repositories, so be patient.

Full URL format explanation:

  • If you’re interested in master branch, use trunk instead. So the full path is trunk/foldername
  • If you’re interested in foo branch, use branch/branchname instead. The full path looks like branch/branchname/foldername
  • Protip: You can use svn ls to see available tags and branches before downloading if you wish

That’s all! Github supports more subversion features as well, including support for committing and pushing changes.