How to install and use GitHub Desktop on Mac: A beginner’s guide⏱️ 3 min read

How to install and use GitHub Desktop on Mac

Whether you’re an experienced coder or just starting your coding journey, GitHub Desktop simplifies the process of managing repositories, collaborating with teammates, and tracking changes to your codebase. In this beginner’s guide, I’ll explain how to install and use GitHub Desktop on Mac.

What Is GitHub Desktop?

GitHub Desktop is a free program that makes it easy to use Git and GitHub. Git is a version control system that helps you track changes to your code, and GitHub is a website where you can store your code and collaborate with others.

If you’re new to Git, GitHub Desktop is a great way to get started. It’s also a helpful tool for experienced Git users who want a visual way to interact with GitHub.

Also read: How to install Homebrew on Mac.

Key features of GitHub Desktop

  • Repository Management: You can create, clone, and manage repositories directly from the desktop application, providing an easier way to organize and access your projects.
  • Branching and Merging: It enables you to separate work on certain features or bug fixes from the main codebase by creating branches. Using the GUI makes it easier to merge modifications back into the main branch as well.
  • Commit and Push: Changes are simple to commit to their local repository and push to GitHub for backup and collaboration.
  • Visual Differ: GitHub Desktop offers a visual diff tool that allows you to see the changes made to your code before committing, helping them review and understand your modifications.
  • History and Blame: You can explore the project’s history, seeing who made specific changes and when they were made.
  • Conflict Resolution: When multiple contributors change the same file, conflicts may arise. GitHub Desktop helps you resolve these conflicts efficiently.
  • GitHub Integration: It tightly integrates with GitHub, allowing you to easily switch between the desktop application and the web-based GitHub interface.

How to download and install GitHub Desktop on Mac

Downloading GitHub Desktop is straightforward, but installing it can be a bit tricky. Follow these steps to complete the process with ease.

Download and install GitHub Desktop on your Mac

Let’s start with downloading and installing GitHub Desktop on your Mac:

1. Launch a web browser. I’m using Google Chrome.

2. Go to the GitHub Desktop download page.

3. Click the Download for macOS button.

4. Wait for the download to complete.

5. Once the download is complete, open the zip file by double-clicking it.

6. Double-click the GitHub Desktop application file to install and launch the app immediately.

Sign in to GitHub Desktop on Mac

Next, you’ll need to sign in to start using GitHub Desktop. Here’s how you can do so:

1. Launch the GitHub Desktop app if you close it after installing.

2. Click Sign in to GitHub.com.

3. Now, you’ll be redirected to the GitHub page on your default browser.

4. Enter your Username and Password, and then click Sign in.

5. Select Open GitHub Desktop from the prompt.

6. Check your Name and Email address in the app and click Finish.

Also read: How to fix Mac Recovery Mode not working.

How to use GitHub Desktop on Mac to manage your projects

Now that you have set up GitHub Desktop on your Mac, let’s take a look at how to perform some basic operations on it. These steps will guide you through creating a new repository, cloning existing repositories, adding an external editor, creating branches, committing changes, and pushing code.

Create a new repository

Creating a new repository in GitHub Desktop is a straightforward process. Follow these steps:

1. Launch GitHub Desktop.

2. Click File in the menu bar and select New Repository.

3. You can also press Command + N.

4. In the prompt, fill in the following details

  • Name: The name of your repository.
  • Description: A brief description of your repository.
  • Local Path: The location on your computer where you want to store your repository.
  • Git Ignore: A file that specifies which files you don’t want to track in your repository.
  • License: The license that you want to use for your repository.

5. Click Create Repository.

Clone a repository

If you want to work on an existing project, you can clone a repository to your local machine and do so. Here are the steps:

1. Open the GitHub Desktop app.

2. Select File from the menu bar and then select Clone Repository.

3. You can also use press shift + command + O.

4. Choose a tab from below: 

  • GitHub.com: Clone a repository from GitHub.com.
  • GitHub Enterprise: Clone a repository from a GitHub Enterprise instance.
  • URL: Clone a repository from a URL.

5. Select a Project you want to clone.

6. Enter the local path where you want to store the project.

7. Click the Clone button.

Also read: How to MacBook trackpad not working.

Add an External Editor

Adding an external editor to GitHub Desktop can enhance your coding experience. Here’s how to set it up:

1. Open the GitHub Desktop app.

2. Select GitHub Desktop from the menu bar and choose Settings.

3. Click Integrations and click the dropdown button.

Select an editor and confirm the changes by pressing Save.

Create a Branch

Branching allows you to work on different parts of your project independently. Follow these steps to create a new branch:

1. Launch GitHub Desktop.

2. Click the dropdown next to the Current Repository and select a repo (repository).

3. Select Current Branch and click New Branch.

4. Enter a new branch name and click the Create Branch button.

Also read: How to use Image Capture on Mac.

Commit Changes

Committing changes is a key part of using Git. Here’s how you can commit changes using GitHub Desktop:

1. Launch your external editor.

2. Make the required changes in the files and Save the changes.

3. Head back to the GitHub Desktop app.

4. Ensure that you are in the correct repo.

5. Click Commit to [your branch name] under the Changes section in the left pane.

Push Code

Pushing your code to GitHub allows you to back up your work and collaborate with others. Here’s how to push your code:

1. Open the GitHub Desktop app.

2. Make sure you are in the correct repository.

3. Click the Publish branch tab.

Alternatively, you can also press Command + P on your keyboard.

Create, View, and Merge Pull Request

After you publish or push your code to GitHub, you will see a dialog that asks you to preview pull requests. You can easily create a new pull request from this dialog by selecting the Create Pull Request option from the dropdown menu.

For everything else related to pull requests, such as creating more pull requests, viewing existing pull requests, or merging pull requests, you can use the following methods.

1. Click Branch from the menu bar.

2. From the dropdown menu, select the appropriate function. 

  • Create Pull Request
  • View Pull Request
  • Merge Pull Request

3. Depending on what you choose, you’ll be redirected to GitHub.

Also read: How to use Switch Control on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

What do you prefer?

GitHub Desktop is a GUI-based application that makes it easy to use Git on your Mac. It can be a bit tricky to install GitHub Desktop on Mac at first but it’s worth it in the long run. As an old-school developer, I prefer using Git from the command line. However, GitHub Desktop is also a great option for those who are new to Git or who want a more visual interface.

FAQs

Q. Are Git and GitHub the same?

No, Git and GitHub are not the same. GitHub is a web-based hosting service for Git repositories, whereas Git is a version control system. You can use Git without GitHub, but you cannot use GitHub without Git.

Q. What is GitLab?

GitLab is a DevOps platform that provides a complete lifecycle for software development, including code management, issue tracking, continuous integration, continuous delivery (CI/CD), and monitoring. It is a web-based application that can be self-hosted or hosted on a cloud platform.

Q. Can we host a website on GitHub?

Yes, you can host a website on GitHub. You can host static web pages straight from your GitHub repository using GitHub Pages, which is a free service.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!
 | Website

Bhaskar, a tech guru turned wordsmith, has taken an unconventional route in his career. Concealing his B.Tech degree in a dusty closet, he veered away from the corporate path to make technology accessible to all. Over the past 5 years, he has been delivering a plethora of how-to guides, insightful reviews, and sharp perspectives.

But there's more to Bhaskar's multifaceted talents. He's not just a tech enthusiast; he's also a witty and adept interview maestro, generously sharing his knowledge for the past 3 years. In addition to these roles, he has dedicated 1 year to sharpening his skills as an editor, ensuring that every piece he touches reaches the highest quality standards.

You can witness Bhaskar's work across various reputable platforms, including Guiding Tech, iGeeksBlog, iTechQueue, MakeUseOf (MUO), and more. Beyond his expertise in technology and writing, he's currently delving into marketing to assist newcomers in navigating the digital landscape.

When Bhaskar isn't passionately typing away on his trusty mechanical keyboard you might catch him strumming on strings or engaging in sports. Watch your Instagram feeds by evening as you'll likely find his inspiring quotes gracing your screen by then.

Bhaskar, a tech guru turned wordsmith, has taken an unconventional route in his career. Concealing his B.Tech degree in a dusty closet, he veered away from the corporate path to make technology accessible to all. Over the past 5 years, he has been delivering a plethora of how-to guides, insightful reviews, and sharp perspectives. But there's more to Bhaskar's multifaceted talents. He's not just a tech enthusiast; he's also a witty and adept interview maestro, generously sharing his knowledge for the past 3 years. In addition to these roles, he has dedicated 1 year to sharpening his skills as an editor, ensuring that every piece he touches reaches the highest quality standards. You can witness Bhaskar's work across various reputable platforms, including Guiding Tech, iGeeksBlog, iTechQueue, MakeUseOf (MUO), and more. Beyond his expertise in technology and writing, he's currently delving into marketing to assist newcomers in navigating the digital landscape. When Bhaskar isn't passionately typing away on his trusty mechanical keyboard you might catch him strumming on strings or engaging in sports. Watch your Instagram feeds by evening as you'll likely find his inspiring quotes gracing your screen by then.

Related Posts

Best hidden features of macOS Sequoia

7 Best hidden features of macOS Sequoia

Apple’s latest operating system, macOS Sequoia, has features that make your Mac more powerful and intuitive than ever. However, several hidden gems can significantly enhance your user…

How to use Genmoji in iOS 18

How to use Genmoji on iOS 18: A guide to personalized emojis

One of the standout features introduced at WWDC 24 is Genmoji, a revolutionary tool that enhances your emoji experience by allowing you to create custom emojis based…

How to schedule a text message on iPhone in iOS 18

How to schedule a text message on iPhone in iOS 18

Whether you need to send a reminder, wish someone a happy birthday at the perfect time, or ensure timely communication for any reason, scheduling a text can…

How to use text effects in iMessage in iOS 18 and iPadOS 18

How to use text effects in iMessage in iOS 18 and iPadOS 18

Imagine sending a text that explodes with confetti on the recipient’s screen or one with jittery letters that dance with excitement. Well, with iOS 18 and iPadOS…

How to fix iPhone not ringing

15+ Ways to fix iPhone not ringing (iOS 18 included)

It can be incredibly frustrating when your iPhone does not ring, especially if you’re missing important calls from family, friends, or work. There are several reasons why…

How to share location on iPhone

How to share location on iPhone: A comprehensive guide

When arranging a trip, meeting up at a new area, or just informing loved ones that you’re safe, sharing your location with them may be quite helpful….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *