A repository is what you use to store your codebase in GitLab and change it with version control. A repository is part of a project, which has a lot of other features.

Create a repository

To create a new repository, all you need to do is create a new project.

Once you create a new project, you can add new files via UI (read the section below) or via command line. To add files from the command line, follow the instructions that will be presented on the screen when you create a new project, or read through them in the command line basics documentation.

Important: For security reasons, when using the command line, we strongly recommend that you connect with GitLab via SSH.


Create and edit files

Host your codebase in GitLab repositories by pushing your files to GitLab. You can either use the user interface (UI), or connect your local computer with GitLab through the command line.

To configure GitLab CI/CD to build, test, and deploy you code, add a file called .gitlab-ci.yml to your repository's root.

From the user interface:

GitLab's UI allows you to perform lots of Git commands without having to touch the command line. Even if you use the command line regularly, sometimes it's easier to do so via GitLab UI:

From the command line:

To get started with the command line, please read through the command line basics documentation.

Find files

Use GitLab's file finder to search for files in a repository.

Supported markup languages and extensions

GitLab supports a number of markup languages (sometimes called lightweight markup languages) that you can use for the content of your files in a repository. They are mostly used for documentation purposes.

Just pick the right extension for your files and GitLab will render them according to the markup language.

Markup language Extensions
Plain text txt
Markdown mdown, mkd, mkdn, md, markdown
reStructuredText rst
AsciiDoc adoc, ad, asciidoc
Textile textile
rdoc rdoc
Orgmode org
creole creole
Mediawiki wiki, mediawiki

Repository README and index files

When a README or index file is present in a repository, its contents will be automatically pre-rendered by GitLab without opening it.

They can either be plain text or have an extension of a supported markup language:

Some things to note about precedence:

  1. When both a README and an index file are present, the README will always take precedence.
  2. When more than one file is present with different extensions, they are ordered alphabetically, with the exception of a file without an extension which will always be last in precedence. For example, README.adoc will take precedence over, and README.rst will take precedence over README.

Jupyter Notebook files

Introduced in GitLab 9.1

Jupyter Notebook (previously IPython Notebook) files are used for interactive computing in many fields and contain a complete record of the user's sessions and include code, narrative text, equations and rich output.

When added to a repository, Jupyter Notebooks with a .ipynb extension will be rendered to HTML when viewed.

Jupyter Notebook Rich Output

Interactive features, including JavaScript plots, will not work when viewed in GitLab.


For details, see Branches.


When you commit your changes, you are introducing those changes to your branch. Via command line, you can commit multiple times before pushing.

  • Commit message: A commit message is important to identity what is being changed and, more importantly, why. In GitLab, you can add keywords to the commit message that will perform one of the actions below:
    • Trigger a GitLab CI/CD pipeline: If you have your project configured with GitLab CI/CD, you will trigger a pipeline per push, not per commit.
    • Skip pipelines: You can add to you commit message the keyword [ci skip] and GitLab CI will skip that pipeline.
    • Cross-link issues and merge requests: Cross-linking is great to keep track of what's is somehow related in your workflow. If you mention an issue or a merge request in a commit message, they will be shown on their respective thread.
  • Cherry-pick a commit: In GitLab, you can cherry-pick a commit right from the UI.
  • Revert a commit: Easily revert a commit from the UI to a selected branch.
  • Sign a commit: Use GPG to sign your commits.

Project and repository size

A project's size is reported on the project's Details page. The reported size is updated every 15 minutes at most, so may not reflect recent activity. The displayed files size includes repository files, artifacts, and LFS.

The project size may differ slightly from one instance to another due to compression, housekeeping, and other factors.

Repository size limit may be set by admins.'s repository size limit is set by GitLab.


All the contributors to your codebase are displayed under your project's Settings > Contributors.

They are ordered from the collaborator with the greatest number of commits to the fewest, and displayed on a nice graph:

contributors to code

Repository graph

The repository graph displays visually the Git flow strategy used in that repository:

repository Git flow

Find it under your project's Repository > Graph.

Repository Languages

For the default branch of each repository, GitLab will determine what programming languages were used and display this on the projects pages. If this information is missing, it will be added after updating the default branch on the project. This process can take up to 5 minutes.

Repository Languages bar

Not all files are detected, among others; documentation, vendored code, and most markup languages are excluded. This behaviour can be adjusted by overriding the default. For example, to enable .proto files to be detected, add the following to .gitattributes in the root of your repository.

*.proto linguist-detectable=true

Locked files (PREMIUM)

Use File Locking to lock your files to prevent any conflicting changes.

Repository's API

You can access your repos via repository API.

Clone in Apple Xcode

Introduced in GitLab 11.0

Projects that contain a .xcodeproj or .xcworkspace directory can now be cloned in Xcode using the new Open in Xcode button, located next to the Git URL used for cloning your project. The button is only shown on macOS.

Download Source Code

Support for directory download was introduced in GitLab 11.11.

The source code stored in a repository can be downloaded from the UI. By clicking the download icon, a dropdown will open with links to download the following:

Download source code

  • Source code: allows users to download the source code on branch they're currently viewing. Available extensions: zip, tar, tar.gz, and tar.bz2.
  • Directory: only shows up when viewing a sub-directory. This allows users to download the specific directory they're currently viewing. Also available in zip, tar, tar.gz, and tar.bz2.
  • Artifacts: allows users to download the artifacts of the latest CI build.