GitHub gh Command Line Interface

A brief tutorial on the installation and usage of the GitHub gh CLI

Figure 1: GitHub Command gh.

GitHub provides an extended gh commandline tool that allow easy interaction of forking repositories directly from github. IT also provides additional fimctionality to interact with other advanced features that are typically not provided in the git command tool.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn how to install the gh command
  • Learn how to use the gh command

Topics covered

1. Introduction

The new GitHub gh command allows GitHub users to work from the terminal of their machine without having to visit the web browser GUI to manage things like issues, PRs, and forking. We will show you what features it provides and how to use it. The gh command provides useful features that is not provided by the `git commandline tool.

2. Installing GitHub gh command

Visit the GitHub CLI homepage at for installation instructions. We recommend that you check out the source distribution because We found that whne we did this tutorial not all features were included in the brew instalation. We assume ths will cahnge over time and you may soon be able to just use the bre install on LInux and MacOs.

On mac, you can use the following command with Brew:

brew install gh

For Windows useser, please follow the install instructions fro Winodws.

3. Logging in with GitHub gh Command

It is best practice to be using SSH-keys with GitHub. Create one if you have not already with the following command:


We recommend t use the the default location.

To authenticate with the GitHub gh comamand, run the following command. We have included the answers to the interactive prompts used for this guide.

gh auth login

What account do you want to log into?
? What account do you want to log into?
? What is your preferred protocol for Git operations? SSH
? Upload your SSH public key to your GitHub account? ~/.ssh/
? How would you like to authenticate GitHub CLI? Login with a web browser

! First copy your one-time code: 1234-1A11
- Press Enter to open in your browser...

3.1 Adding Additional Keys

IN acse you work with multiple computers it is advisable to add your keys from these machines also. We demonstarte the interaction to upload the key from a new machine.

newmachine$ gh ssh-key add ~/.ssh/ 
Error: insufficient OAuth scopes to list SSH keys
Run the following to grant scopes: gh auth refresh -s write:public_key
newmachine$ gh auth refresh -s write:public_key

! First copy your one-time code: 4C2D-E896
- Press Enter to open in your browser... 
✓ Authentication complete. Press Enter to continue...

newmachine$ gh ssh-key add ~/.ssh/   
✓ Public key added to your account

4. Forking

We can easily create a fork of a repo with the following:

gh repo fork

This is useful for when you do not have write access to the original repository.

5. Pull Requests

We can create a pull request easily as follows from a git repo:

gh pr create

The command above will ask the user where to push the branch (if it does not already exist on the remote). It will also offer the option to fork the initial repository. You will want to do this if you do not have write access to the original repo.

Once created, you may view the status of the PR with the following:

gh pr status

Reviewers can checkout your pull request to verify changes as follows:

gh pr checkout {PR NUMBER}

The reviewer can then approve the PR as follows:

gh pr review --approve

Subsequently, the PR can be merged as follows:

gh pr merge {PR NUMBER}

You may also list all pull requests with the following:

gh pr list

Finally, PRs can be closed with

gh pr close {PR NUMBER}

6. Managing Issues with GitHub gh Command

To create an issue, call the following:

gh issue create --title="Bug 1" --body="description"

We can also check the status of issues relevant to use with:

gh issue status

Alternatively, we may list all open issues.

gh issue list

Finally, we may close issues with:

gh issue close {ISSUE NUMBER}

7. Manual Pages

7.1 gh

gh(1)                                                                    gh(1)

       gh - GitHub CLI

       gh   [flags]

       Work seamlessly with GitHub from the command line.

       --help[=false]      Show help for command

       --version[=false]      Show gh version

              $ gh issue create
              $ gh repo clone cli/cli
              $ gh pr checkout 321

       gh-alias(1),  gh-api(1),  gh-auth(1),  gh-completion(1),  gh-config(1),
       gh-gist(1),   gh-issue(1),   gh-pr(1),    gh-release(1),    gh-repo(1),
       gh-secret(1), gh-ssh-key(1)

7.2 List of Man Pages

Tha manual pages are published at the gh manual. For mor information you can also use the man command. A full list of manual pages includes:

  • gh
  • gh-alias-delete
  • gh-alias-list
  • gh-alias-set
  • gh-alias
  • gh-api
  • gh-auth-login
  • gh-auth-logout
  • gh-auth-refresh
  • gh-auth-status
  • gh-auth
  • gh-completion
  • gh-config-get
  • gh-config-set
  • gh-config
  • gh-gist-clone
  • gh-gist-create
  • gh-gist-delete
  • gh-gist-edit
  • gh-gist-list
  • gh-gist-view
  • gh-gist
  • gh-issue-close
  • gh-issue-comment
  • gh-issue-create
  • gh-issue-delete
  • gh-issue-edit
  • gh-issue-list
  • gh-issue-reopen
  • gh-issue-status
  • gh-issue-view
  • gh-issue
  • gh-pr-checkout
  • gh-pr-checks
  • gh-pr-close
  • gh-pr-comment
  • gh-pr-create
  • gh-pr-diff
  • gh-pr-edit
  • gh-pr-list
  • gh-pr-merge
  • gh-pr-ready
  • gh-pr-reopen
  • gh-pr-review
  • gh-pr-status
  • gh-pr-view
  • gh-pr
  • gh-release-create
  • gh-release-delete
  • gh-release-download
  • gh-release-list
  • gh-release-upload
  • gh-release-view
  • gh-release
  • gh-repo-clone
  • gh-repo-create
  • gh-repo-fork
  • gh-repo-view
  • gh-repo
  • gh-secret-list
  • gh-secret-remove
  • gh-secret-set
  • gh-secret
  • gh-ssh-key-add
  • gh-ssh-key-list
  • gh-ssh-key

7. Conclusion

There are many other commands for the GitHub CLI that can be found in the gh manual, however we only include a select number of relevant commands for this guide. The commands mentioned above serve to familiarize the user with the GitHub CLI while also providing practical usage.

Last modified June 16, 2021 : merge content (ecf6e8f7)