How to unfork a GitHub repository (2021 official method)

Published February 2, 2021; last updated on February 10, 2021
How to unfork a GitHub repository (2021 official method)

Who doesn’t love GitHub? And who hasn’t their GitHub account cluttered with forked repositories of projects you’ve long stopped contributing too? Do you want to clean up your account and unfork outdated repositories? Learn how to unfork a GitHub repo the correct way.

How to unfork a repository

Unfortunately, GitHub doesn’t offer an Unfork repository button. Unforking is a manual process which needs to be done by a GitHub employee. But because of the large demand for unforking or detaching repositories, GitHub has built a special chatbot to enter your request. Luckily, the GitHub team performs unfork requests very fast, so it’s very likely that it takes only a few minutes to half an hour.

How to detach/extract a GitHub repository

  1. Go to support.github.com/request (or go to GitHub.com and click Contact GitHub in the footer).
  2. Click Attach, detach or reroute forks.
  3. In the Subject field, typ ‘Unfork’. A blue banner should appear with ‘Our virtual assistant can help’. Click the banner.
  4. A chat should appear on screen with the Virtual Assistant. Paste the URL of the repository.
    Note: make sure to paste the URL to the forked repository, so not the original repository. It should look like https://github.com/username/forked-repo-name.
  5. Specify what should be done with Child forks:

    If username/forked-repo-name has child forks, what should we do with these?
    Commonly you’ll want to bring the child forks along with you when detaching your fork from the upstream repository.
    1. Bring the child forks with the repository
    2. Leave the child forks behind
  6. Select one of the options and send the form.
  7. Within a few minutes to half an hour you should get a confirmation in your e-mail.

Now you’ve successfully unforked a GitHub repository! The repository stays in your account as a personal repository, without ties to the original repository.

Using the GitHub visual assistant to unfork a repository.
Using the GitHub virtual assistant to unfork a GitHub repo.
The GitHub assistant to unfork a repository.

What is GitHub forking?

GitHub is a great tool for developing software. Millions of developers and companies build, ship and maintain their software on GitHub. If you’ve used GitHub for a while, you may find yourself wanting to contribute to someone else’s project. Or you would like to use an other project as a starting point for your own project. GitHub makes this really easy by allowing you to fork other people’s projects. But what about unforking?

If your project is finished or if you’ve made your contribution, the forked repository will still be shown in your account as ‘forked from X’.
Image Ralph J. Smit
Ralph is a designer gone developer. He happily lives in the Netherlands. His passion for good design drove him towards development, because he felt that no-code tools were too limiting. On this blog, Ralph writes the articles he would've wanted to have during his continual developer journey. → Follow on Twitter

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