Git – How to Split Subdirectory to Separate Repository

GIT Split Sub-Directory to Repositories

If you regret putting that git sub-directory inside a git repository and thinking about moving it out of the current repository to its own repository, you have come to the right place!

In this post, we will see step by step approach to give a new home to that git sub-directory. I know the biggest worry when we are trying to do something like this is, if you will be able to get all the history of commits, all branches, tags, etc. intact while migrating the sub-directory. Don’t worry about that! This post got you covered.

Below, I will provide you with 2 approaches, first,  to move the sub-directory along with all the commits with all its branches and tags and second,  to move just with commit history to master , if you don’t care about the branches. Let’s get started –

For both the steps below let’s assume following tree structure of folders that exists  –

  • Original repository with subdirectories –
  • Sub-directory to be migrated to the new repositoryfolder-b
git sub-directory structure

Approach#1 – Moving along with branches and tags and commit history.

Step 1. Go to the directory where you want to create a new repository.

cd source-code

Step 2. Clone the original repository to a folder named after the new repository.

git clone REPOSITORY-B

Step 3. Go to the directory which got created when you cloned the repository above. REPOSITORY-B


Step 4. Filter out and keep only the commits and branches for the FOLDER using git filter-branch command.

git filter-branch --prune-empty FOLDER-B -- --all

you can either decide to keep all branches and tags using –all or you can specify a branch name in that place.

Step 5. Now, REPOSITORY-A directory only contains the sub-directory and files within it.

Step 6. Create a new repository on git, let’s say –

Step 7. Set remote for the current folder as a new repository –

git remote set-url origin

Step 8. Verify the remote

git remote -v

Step 9. Push all changes to remote –

git push -u origin --all


Approach#2 -Moving only with commit history to a master branch in a new repository

Step 1. First, go to the folder for your old repository, you split a new branch from your history containing only the subtree rooted at the folder-b. Read more about git subtree command here.

cd repository-a
git subtree split -P folder-b  -b folder-b-only

Step 2. Next, create a folder named after the new repository

mkdir repository-b; cd repository_b

Step 3. Initialize and import the newly created branch in the old repository to the current folder – repository-b

git init; git pull ~/source-code/repository-a folder-b-only

Step 4. Now, Lets, Create new repository repository-b and add as the origin to the current folder.

git remote add origin

Step 5. Push to master

git push origin -u master

Step 6. In the end, just remove the folder-b from the original repository using git rm -rf

git rm -rf folder-b

Please comment below, If you face any issues or if you have any questions on above!

References –

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