Git ignore a folder without a subfolder
Say you are using git and want to ignore an entire folder, save for a specific file or subfolder within it. For example, you want to exclude IntelliJ’s
.idea folder but include its
runConfigurations subfolder so that your team can run your launchers.
Now let’s take a nested example:
project +-- .gitignore +-- afolder | +-- afile.txt | +-- bfolder | | +-- bfile.txt | | +-- cfolder | | | +-- cfile.txt
project folder, we want to ignore all but
afolder/bfolder/cfolder/. So we expect
afolder/bfolder/bfile.txt to be ignored.
Now you might expect gitignore to work this way:
afolder/ #ignore afolder
This doesn’t work and instead excludes all of
afolder. As noted in the commit of git introducing the
It is not possible to re-include a file if a parent directory of that file is excluded. (*) (*: unless certain conditions are met in git 2.8+, see below) Git doesn't list excluded directories for performance reasons, so any patterns on contained files have no effect, no matter where they are defined.
In 2016, there were two attempts to allow this kind of recursive un-exclusion, but they led to regressions and were reverted. There has been no progress since. So the way to do it is with this
Note that, in order to exclude, we use
folder/*: this only excludes the contents of the folder but not the folder itself, allowing git to apply un-exclusion patterns (
!). If we write
folder/, we tell git to unconditionally ignore all of the folder.
Then we check that the result is achieved:
> git status -u --ignored=matching On branch master No commits yet Changes to be committed: (use "git rm --cached <file>..." to unstage) new file: .gitignore Untracked files: (use "git add <file>..." to include in what will be committed) afolder/bfolder/cfolder/cfile.txt Ignored files: (use "git add -f <file>..." to include in what will be committed) afolder/afile.txt afolder/bfolder/bfile.txt
In a more general way, this repeating pattern of “excluding then un-excluding” is unavoidable as of git 2.21 (February 2019).