Chapter 10 Connect to GitHub

Objective: make sure that you can pull from and push to GitHub from your computer.

I do not explain all the shell (Appendix A) and Git commands in detail. This is a black box diagnostic / configuration exercise. In later chapters and in live workshops, we revisit these operations with much more narrative.

10.1 Make a repo on GitHub

Go to and make sure you are logged in.

Click green “New repository” button. Or, if you are on your own profile page, click on “Repositories”, then click the green “New” button.

Repository name: myrepo (or whatever you wish, we will delete this)
YES Initialize this repository with a README

Click big green button “Create repository.”

Copy the HTTPS clone URL to your clipboard via the green “Clone or Download” button.

10.2 Clone the repo to your local computer

Go to the shell (Appendix A).

Take charge of – or at least notice! – what directory you’re in. pwd to display working directory. cd to move around. Personally, I would do this sort of thing in ~/tmp.

Clone myrepo from GitHub to your computer. This URL should have your GitHub username and the name of your practice repo. If your shell (Appendix A) cooperates, you should be able to paste the whole https://.... bit that we copied above. But some shells are not (immediately) clipboard aware. In that sad case, you must type it. Accurately.

git clone

This should look something like this:

jenny@2015-mbp tmp $ git clone
Cloning into 'myrepo'...
remote: Counting objects: 3, done.
remote: Total 3 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0), pack-reused 0
Unpacking objects: 100% (3/3), done.
Checking connectivity... done.

Make this new repo your working directory, list its files, display the README, and get some information on its connection to GitHub:

cd myrepo
git remote show origin

This should look something like this:

jenny@2015-mbp ~ $ cd myrepo

jenny@2015-mbp myrepo $ ls

jenny@2015-mbp myrepo $ head 
# myrepo
tutorial development

jenny@2015-mbp myrepo $ git remote show origin
* remote origin
  Fetch URL:
  Push  URL:
  HEAD branch: master
  Remote branch:
    master tracked
  Local branch configured for 'git pull':
    master merges with remote master
  Local ref configured for 'git push':
    master pushes to master (up to date)

10.3 Make a local change, commit, and push

Add a line to README and verify that Git notices the change:

echo "A line I wrote on my local computer" >>
git status

This should look something like this:

jenny@2015-mbp myrepo $ echo "A line I wrote on my local computer" >>
jenny@2015-mbp myrepo $ git status
On branch master
Your branch is up-to-date with 'origin/master'.
Changes not staged for commit:
  (use "git add <file>..." to update what will be committed)
  (use "git checkout -- <file>..." to discard changes in working directory)


no changes added to commit (use "git add" and/or "git commit -a")

Commit this change and push to your remote repo on GitHub. If you’re a new GitHub user, you will be challenged for your GitHub username and password. Provide them!

git add -A
git commit -m "A commit from my local computer"
git push

The -m flag is an important message that must be included with every commit! Git requires a commit message for every commit, so if you forget the -m flag, git will prompt you for a commit message anyways. It is good practice to write meaningful commit messages so in the future, potential collaborators (and your future self) will understand the progression of a project.

This should look something like this:

jenny@2015-mbp myrepo $ git add -A

jenny@2015-mbp myrepo $ git commit -m "A commit from my local computer"
[master de669ba] A commit from my local computer
 1 file changed, 1 insertion(+)
jenny@2015-mbp myrepo $ git push
Counting objects: 3, done.
Delta compression using up to 8 threads.
Compressing objects: 100% (2/2), done.
Writing objects: 100% (3/3), 311 bytes | 0 bytes/s, done.
Total 3 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0)
   b4112c5..de669ba  master -> master

10.4 Confirm the local change propagated to the GitHub remote

Go back to the browser. I assume we’re still viewing your new GitHub repo.


You should see the new “A line I wrote on my local computer” in the README.

If you click on “commits,” you should see one with the message “A commit from my local computer.”

If you have made it this far, you are ready to graduate to using Git and GitHub with RStudio (chapter 13). But first …

10.5 Am I really going to type GitHub username and password on each push?

It is likely that your first push, above, leads to a challenge for your GitHub username and password.

This will drive you crazy in the long-run and make you reluctant to push. Do one of the following to eliminate this annoyance:

  • Credential caching for HTTPS access, chapter 11.
  • Set up SSH keys, chapter 12.

Now is the perfect time to do this, since you have a functioning test repo.

10.6 Clean up

Local When you’re ready to clean up, you can delete the local repo any way you like. It’s just a regular directory on your computer.

Here’s how to do that in the shell, if current working directory is myrepo:

cd ..
rm -rf myrepo/

GitHub In the browser, go to your repo’s landing page on GitHub. Click on “Settings”.

Scroll down, click on “delete repository,” and do as it asks.