// Tutorial //

How to Push an Existing Project to GitHub

Published on September 21, 2020 · Updated on September 15, 2020
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    By Nicholas Cerminara
    Developer and author at DigitalOcean.
    How to Push an Existing Project to GitHub

    GitHub is simply a cloud-hosted Git management tool. Git is distributed version control, meaning the entire repo and history lives wherever you put it. People tend use GitHub though in their business or development workflow as a managed hosting solution for backups of their repositories.

    It’s a convenient and mostly worry-free method for backing up all your code repos. It also allows you to very nicely navigate and view your code on the web. GitHub takes this even further by letting you connect with coworkers, friends, organizations, and more.


    To initialize the repo and push it to GitHub you’ll need:

    1. A free GitHub Account
    2. git installed on your local machine

    Step 1: Create a new GitHub Repo

    Sign in to GitHub and create a new empty repo page. You can choose to either initialize a README or not. It doesn’t really matter because we’re just going to override everything in this remote repository anyways.

    Create new GitHub Repo

    Through the rest of this tutorial we’ll assume your GitHub username is sammy and the repo you created is named my-new-project (So you’ll need to swap those out with your actual username and repo name when copy/pasting commands)

    Step 2: Initialize Git in the project folder

    From your terminal, run the following commands after navigating to folder you would like to add:

    Initialize the Git Repo

    Make sure you are in the root directory of the project you want to push to GitHub and run:

    Note: if you already have an initialized Git repository, you can skip this command

    1. git init

    This step creates a hidden .git directory in your project folder which the git software recognizes and uses to store all the metadata and version history for the project.

    Add the files to Git index

    1. git add -A

    The git add command is used to tell git which files to include in a commit, and the -A argument means “include all”.

    Commit Added Files

    1. git commit -m 'Added my project'

    The git commit command creates a new commit with all files that have been “added”. the -m 'Added my project' is the message that will be included alongside the commit, used for future reference to understand the commit.

    Add new remote origin (in this case, GitHub)

    1. git remote add origin git@github.com:sammy/my-new-project.git

    Note: Don’t forget to replace the highlighted bits above with your username and repo name.

    In git, a “remote” refers to a remote version of the same repository, which is typically on a server somewhere (in this case GitHub.) “origin” is the default name git gives to a remote server (you can have multiple remotes) so git remote add origin is instructing git to add the URL of the default remote server for this repo.

    Push to GitHub

    1. git push -u -f origin master

    With this, there are a few things to note. The -f flag stands for force. This will automatically overwrite everything in the remote directory. We’re only using it here to overwrite the README that GitHub automatically initialized. If you skipped that, the -f flag isn’t really necessary.

    The -u flag sets the remote origin as the default. This lets you later easily just do git push and git pull without having to specifying an origin since we always want GitHub in this case.

    All together

    1. git init
    2. git add -A
    3. git commit -m 'Added my project'
    4. git remote add origin git@github.com:sammy/my-new-project.git
    5. git push -u -f origin master


    Now you are all set to track your code changes remotely in GitHub! As a next step here’s a complete guide to how to use git

    Once you start collaborating with others on the project, you’ll want to know how to create a pull request.

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    About the authors
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    Developer and author at DigitalOcean.

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