How to "git clone" including submodules?


I'm trying to put a submodule into a repo. The problem is that when I clone the parent repo, the submodule folder is entirely empty.

Is there any way to make it so that git clone parent_repo actually puts data in the submodule folder?

For example,, nodejs-mysql-native is pointing at an external git submodule, but when I checkout the sequelize project, that folder is empty.

2/28/2019 9:57:02 AM

You have to do two things before a submodule will be filled:

git submodule init 
git submodule update

Git 2.23 (Q3 2019): if you want to clone and update the submodules to their latest revision:

git clone --recurse-submodules --remote-submodules

If you just want to clone them at their recorded SHA1:

git clone --recurse-submodules

See below.

Original answer 2010

As joschi mentions in the comments, git submodule now supports the --recursive option (Git1.6.5 and more).

If --recursive is specified, this command will recurse into the registered submodules, and update any nested submodules within.

See Working with git submodules recursively for the init part.
See git submodule explained for more.

With version 1.6.5 of git and later, you can do this automatically by cloning the super-project with the –-recursive option:

git clone --recursive git://

Update 2016, with git 2.8: see "How to speed up / parallelize downloads of git submodules using git clone --recursive?"

You can initiate fetching the submodule using multiple threads, in parallel.
For instances:

git fetch --recurse-submodules -j2

Even better, with Git 2.23 (Q3 2019), you can clone and checkout the submodule to their tracking branch in one command!

See commit 4c69101 (19 May 2019) by Ben Avison (bavison).
(Merged by Junio C Hamano -- gitster -- in commit 9476094, 17 Jun 2019)

clone: add --remote-submodules flag

When using git clone --recurse-submodules there was previously no way to pass a --remote switch to the implicit git submodule update command for any use case where you want the submodules to be checked out on their remote-tracking branch rather than with the SHA-1 recorded in the superproject.

This patch rectifies this situation.
It actually passes --no-fetch to git submodule update as well on the grounds they the submodule has only just been cloned, so fetching from the remote again only serves to slow things down.

That means:


All submodules which are cloned will use the status of the submodule’s remote-tracking branch to update the submodule, rather than the superproject’s recorded SHA-1. Equivalent to passing --remote to git submodule update.


[Quick Answer]

You can use this command to clone your repo with all the submodules:

git clone --recursive YOUR-GIT-REPO-URL

Or if you have already cloned the project, you can use:

git submodule init
git submodule update

If your submodule was added in a branch be sure to include it in your clone command...

git clone -b <branch_name> --recursive <remote> <directory>

Try this:

git clone --recurse-submodules

It automatically pulls in the submodule data assuming you have already added the submodules to the parent project.