Intro to GitHub Desktop

Vishal Gorai
4 min readOct 19, 2019


Why GitHub Desktop when we’ve terminal?

No doubt, Command Line Interface (CLI) is super sexy! One of the best features of Git is that it works blazingly fast on the terminal. Working from command line consumes lesser RAM along with delivering quicker output. Since it has no graphical interface, the load on the system is less and CPU consumption is even lesser. Server have no UI, neither is required by Git. So you get an added advantage of learning Git from CLI. There’s never a minus in using Git from the terminal.

Well those were super bombastic technical concepts for pro users.

What about the beginners?

I couldn’t agree more to it, that in the entire journey, the start is the most crucial point. Well, GitHub understands you well. It has made the entry point to GitHub super easy with the application - GitHub Desktop.

github desktop

GitHub desktop is a super flexible tool for all those who finds their way through the CLI very complex. It offers a beautiful and structured User Interface for the new comers to keep them from using the black screen.

It has a specific button for each and every Git command so that the need of CLI is never felt.

Steps to install and use GitHub Desktop :

  1. Install the application from the official website.
github desktop installation

2. Then, GitHub Desktop welcomes you with its very fine and clean interface.

githb desktop welcomes you!

3. Sign in to Github from GitHub Desktop

4. Configuring Git from GitHub Desktop.

5. Finally, you’re set to use GitHub Desktop

Starting with GitHub Desktop

Cloing a github repo

git clone <url of github repo>

Cloning a GitHub repository from github is just a click away. No commands written, no commands to be remembered. Just a click, and there you’ve the repo locally available.

git clone

Put in the url in the tab and tap clone.

Creating a branch

git branch <branch name>

git checkout <branch name>

or simply

git checkout -b <branch name>

Creating a branch in GitHub desktop is no longer as confusing as it looks in the black screen. Simply tap on create a branch, and you’re done!

Put in the branch name and you have your branch ready to be experimented with.

Switching Branch

git checkout <branch name>

barnch switch

Merging into other branch

git merge <branch name to be merged>

Make sure you find the correct branch to be merged with the base branch.

Viewing history in GitHub Desktop

A very clean and standard interface is laid out to you by the application to view the history of the repository. You can see the the contributors on the left-hand side tab (as shown), with details of their respective contributions on the larger right-hand side tab.

commit history

Well not to forget, the commit messages are always a great deal of help with a breif overview of the changes made in the repo by any author in their commits.

That’s it! This was the basic workflow to get started with Git and GitHub. Once you command these actions, you become ready for major collaborations.

Digging deeper into GitHub Desktop

Well, to be very frank, this application is not a very sophisticated or a great software with web engines powering it 24x7 and blah blah blah.

It’s simply web-page kind of stuff, with inbuilt git. That’s it.

Huhh, why should we believe you?

Simply investigating more about the app I found out that its written in purely in HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. You can very easily see the code by right-clicking anywhere on the page and then choosing inspect element.

Don’t be surprised, but any developer with a sound knowledge of HTML, JS, and CSS coupled with Git can make this. Even you!

Good luck to all, and if you found the article helpful, share with your friends and colleagues to let them come over the fear of using Git from terminal.

Stay connected with me : Vishal Gorai