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Renaming the default branch from master

Many communities, both on GitHub and in the wider Git community, are considering renaming the default branch name of their repository from master. GitHub is gradually renaming the default branch of our own repositories from master to main. We're committed to making the renaming process as seamless as possible for project maintainers and all of their contributors. This repository is our up-to-date guidance on how and when to rename your default branch.

We're not the only organization in the Git ecosystem making these changes: there are upcoming changes in the Git project (statement, code change), as well as coordinated changes from multiple vendors.

We’re making changes to GitHub in a few phases, designed to cause as little disruption to existing projects as possible.

If you haven’t renamed your default branch yet, consider waiting until later this year. We’re investing in tools to make renaming the default branch of an existing repository a seamless experience for both maintainers and contributors.

What's already changed

  • We've updated GitHub.com to redirect links that contain the deleted branch name master to the corresponding link in the repository's new default branch.
  • We've updated GitHub Pages to build and deploy from any branch.
    • Note: publishing to the special gh-pages branch will still work the same as it always has, but now you can choose any other branch in your repository as the publishing source.
  • We've added user, organization, and enterprise settings to set the default branch name for all newly-created repositories on GitHub.com. We're adding the same settings in the 2.23 release of GitHub Enterprise Server.
    • These settings cover repositories created through GitHub.com and the GitHub API. Git 2.28 added a similar setting to control the default branch used when you run git init on the command line. Learn more about the new init.defaultBranch setting in the Git 2.28 blog post.
    • GitHub Desktop will also introduce a default branch setting for new repositories later this month.

New repositories use main as default branch name

The default branch name for new repositories is now main. To set a different default:

  1. For users, on the https://github.com/settings/repositories page
  2. For organization owners, on the https://github.com/organizations/YOUR-ORGANIZATION/settings/repository-defaults page
  3. For enterprise administrators, on the https://github.com/enterprises/YOUR-ENTERPRISE/settings/member_privileges page

Users, organizations, and enterprise that previously selected a default branch for new repositories are not impacted by this change.

Existing repositories are not impacted by this change. Later this year, you'll be able to rename the default branch for existing repositories for your user, organization, or enterprise account.

Why main?

main is the most popular replacement for master that we’re seeing across GitHub. We like it because it’s short, it keeps your muscle memory intact, and it translates well across most languages. We’re using main for our newly-created repositories and for the repositories we’re moving now, like dependabot-core.

Later this year: seamless move for existing repositories 🚀

For existing repositories, renaming the default branch today causes a set of challenges:

  • Open pull requests need to be retargeted to the new branch
  • Draft releases need to be retargeted to the new branch
  • Branch protection policies need to be transferred to the new branch

By the end of the year, we'll make it seamless for existing repositories to rename their default branch. When you rename the branch, we’ll retarget your open PRs and draft releases, move your branch protection policies, and more - all automatically. And, we’re also looking into redirecting users who git fetch or git clone the old branch name to the new branch name (with a warning and instructions to update their local clone), so it’s easy for your contributors to move.

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Guidance for changing the default branch name for GitHub repositories

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