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Q&A

How to configure .gitignore to ignore all files except a certain directory

+4
−0

MWE

In the terminal run:

mkdir mwe 
cd mwe

mkdir dir
touch f1.txt f2.pdf dir/f1.txt dir/f2.pdf

git init .

Create a .gitignore with:

*     # ignore all
!dir/ # except this directory

Problem

Git doesn't register this and all files are still ignored:

git status

But, a normal file pattern works:

*       # ignore all
!f1.txt # except this file

Question

How do I configure my .gitignore to ignore all except a certain directory?

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1 comment thread

Why not just make DIR the repository instead of MWE? (2 comments)

1 answer

+6
−0

From the docs

Example to exclude everything except a specific directory foo/bar (note the /* - without the slash, the wildcard would also exclude everything within foo/bar):

   $ cat .gitignore
   # exclude everything except directory foo/bar
   /*
   !/foo
   /foo/*
   !/foo/bar

Just do

/*
!/dir

Why this works (and yours doesn't)

When you exclude *, you end up excluding everything, directories and files alike. When you un-exclude dir, the files inside aren't un-excluded as well. This is why it doesn't appear to do anything. You can actually fix this by first un-excluding dir and then un-excluding everything in it like this:

*
!/dir
!/dir/**/*

By using /* though, it doesn't exclude everything, but only the top-level stuff. The files inside technically weren't excluded, but as long as the directory the files are in is excluded, the files won't be included.

Therefore, when you un-exclude dir, the files within (which hadn't been excluded) are included without a problem.

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1 comment thread

This does the trick and even better was in the man page! The question that remains though is what is ... (4 comments)

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