git-annex-import - Man Page

import files from a special remote


git annex import --from remote branch[:subdir] | [path ...]


This command is a way to import a tree of files from elsewhere into your git-annex repository. It can import files from a git-annex special remote, or from a directory.

Importing from a Special Remote

Importing from a special remote first downloads or hashes all new content from it, and then constructs a git commit that reflects files that have changed on the special remote since the last time git-annex looked at it. Merging that commit into your repository will update it to reflect changes made on the special remote.

This way, something can be using the special remote for file storage, adding files, modifying files, and deleting files, and you can track those changes using git-annex.

You can combine using git annex import to fetch changes from a special  remote with git annex export to send your local changes to the special remote.

You can only import from special remotes that were configured with importtree=yes when set up with git-annex-initremote(1). Only some kinds of special remotes will let you configure them this way. A perhaps non-exhaustive list is the directory, s3, and adb special remotes.

To import from a special remote, you must specify the name of a branch. A corresponding remote tracking branch will be updated by git annex import. After that point, it's the same as if you had run a git fetch from a regular git remote; you can merge the changes into your currently checked out branch.

For example:

git annex import master --from myremote
git annex merge --allow-unrelated-histories myremote/master

You could just as well use git merge --allow-unrelated-histories myremote/master as the second step, but using git-annex merge avoids a couple of gotchas. When using adjusted branches, it adjusts the branch before merging from it.

The --allow-unrelated-histories option is needed for at least the first merge of an imported remote tracking branch, since the branch's history is not connected. Think of this as the remote being a separate git repository with its own files. If you first git annex export files to a remote, and then git annex import from it, you won't need that option.

You can import into a subdirectory, using the "branch:subdir" syntax. For example, if "camera" is a special remote that accesses a camera, and you want to import those into the photos directory, rather than to the root of your repository:

git annex import master:photos --from camera
git merge camera/master

The git annex sync --content command (and the git-annex assistant) can also be used to import from a special remote. To do this, you need to configure "remote.<name>.annex-tracking-branch" to tell it what branch to track. For example:

git config remote.myremote.annex-tracking-branch master
git annex sync --content

Any files that are gitignored will not be included in the import, but will be left on the remote.

When the special remote has a preferred content expression set by git-annex-wanted(1), it will be honored when importing from it. Files that are not preferred content of the remote will not be imported from it, but will be left on the remote.

However, preferred content expressions that relate to the key can't be matched when importing, because the content of the file is not known. Importing will fail when such a preferred content expression is set. This includes expressions containing "copies=", "metadata=", and other things that depend on the key. Preferred content expressions containing "include=", "exclude=" "smallerthan=", "largerthan=" will work.

Things in the expression like "include=" match relative to the top of the tree of files on the remote, even when importing into a subdirectory.

Options for Importing from a Special Remote

--content,  --no-content

Controls whether annexed content is downloaded from the special remote.

The default is to download content into the git-annex repository.

With --no-content, git-annex keys are generated from information provided by the special remote, without downloading it. Commands like git-annex get can later be used to download files, as desired. The --no-content option is not supported by all special remotes.

Importing from a Directory

When run with a path, git annex import **moves** files from somewhere outside the git working copy, and adds them to the annex. In contrast to importing  from a special directory remote, imported files are **deleted from the given path**.

This is a legacy interface. It is still supported, but please consider switching to importing from a directory special remote instead, using the interface documented above.

Individual files to import can be specified. If a directory is specified, the entire directory is imported. Please note that the following instruction will **delete all files from the source directory**.  

git annex import /media/camera/DCIM/*

When importing files, there's a possibility of importing a duplicate of a file that is already known to git-annex -- its content is either present in the local repository already, or git-annex knows of another repository that contains it, or it was present in the annex before but has been removed now.

By default, importing a duplicate of a known file will result in a new filename being added to the repository, so the duplicate file is present in the repository twice. (With all checksumming backends, including the default SHA256E, only one copy of the data will be stored.)

Several options can be used to adjust handling of duplicate files, see --duplicate, --deduplicate, --skip-duplicates, --clean-duplicates, and --reinject-duplicates documentation below.

symbolic links in the directory being imported are skipped to avoid accidentially importing things outside the directory that import was ran on. The directory that import is run on can, however inself be a symbolic link, and that symbolic link will be followed.

Options for Importing from a Directory


Do not delete files from the import location.

Running with this option repeatedly can import the same files into different git repositories, or branches, or different locations in a git repository.


Only import files that are not duplicates; duplicate files will be deleted from the import location.


Only import files that are not duplicates. Avoids deleting any files from the import location.


Does not import any files, but any files found in the import location that are duplicates are deleted.


Imports files that are not duplicates. Files that are duplicates have their content reinjected into the annex (similar to git-annex-reinject(1)).


Allow existing files to be overwritten by newly imported files.

Also, causes .gitignore to not take effect when adding files.

file matching options

Many of the git-annex-matching-options(1) can be used to specify files to import.

git annex import /dir --include='*.png'

Common Options

--jobs=N -JN

Imports multiple files in parallel. This may be faster. For example: -J4  

Setting this to "cpus" will run one job per CPU core.


Specifies which key-value backend to use for the imported files.


Add gitignored files.


Enable JSON output. This is intended to be parsed by programs that use git-annex. Each line of output is a JSON object.


Include progress objects in JSON output.


Messages that would normally be output to standard error are included in the JSON instead.

Also the git-annex-common-options(1) can be used.


Note that using --deduplicate or --clean-duplicates with the WORM backend does not look at file content, but filename and mtime.

If annex.largefiles is configured, and does not match a file, git annex import will add the non-large file directly to the git repository, instead of to the annex.

See Also






Joey Hess <>

Referenced By

git-annex(1), git-annex-add(1), git-annex-export(1), git-annex-preferred-content(1), git-annex-pull(1).