Tutorial: Open a project from a repo in Visual Studio – Visual Studio (Windows)

Tutorial: Open a project from a repo in Visual Studio – Visual Studio (Windows)
  • Article
  • 8 minutes to read

Applies to: yesVisual Studio noVisual Studio for Mac noVisual Studio Code

In this tutorial, you’ll use Visual Studio to connect to a repository for the first time, clone it, and then open a project from it.

If you haven’t already installed Visual Studio, go to the Visual Studio downloads page to install it for free.

Open a project from a GitHub repo

Visual Studio makes it easy to open a project from a repo. You can do so when you start Visual Studio, or you can do so directly from within the Visual Studio IDE.

Here’s how.

Use the start window

  1. Open Visual Studio.
  2. On the start window, select Clone a repository.


    Screenshot of the Clone a Repository dialog in Visual Studio.

  3. Enter or type the repository location, and then select the Clone button.


    Screenshot of the Clone a Repository dialog in Visual Studio where you enter a Git repo URL.

  4. You might be asked for your user sign-in information in the Git User Information dialog box. You can either add your information or edit the default information it provides.


    Screenshot of the Git User Information dialog where you enter or edit your account info in Visual Studio 2022.

    Select Save to add the info to your global .gitconfig file. (Or, you can select Cancel if you’d like to add the info later.)

View files in Solution Explorer

  1. Next, Visual Studio loads the solution(s) from the repository by using the Folder View in Solution Explorer.


    Screenshot of the Folder View in Solution Explorer in Visual Studio 2022.

    You can view a solution in Solution View by double-clicking its .sln file.

    Or, you can select the Switch Views button, and then select Program.cs to view a solution’s code.


    Screenshot of a project in Git that's open in Solution Explorer, with the Switch Views button highlighted in Visual Studio 2022.

Tip

The default view is set to Folder View. You can change it to Solution View from the Git menu. Select Settings > Source Control > Git Global Settings > Automatically load the solution when opening a Git repository to do so.

Open a project locally from a previously cloned GitHub repo

  1. Open Visual Studio.
  2. On the start window, select Open a project or solution.

    Visual Studio opens an instance of File Explorer, where you can browse to your solution or project, and then select it to open it.


    Screenshot of the 'Open a project or solution' window in Visual Studio 2022.

    Tip

    If you’ve opened the project or solution recently, select it from the Open recent section to quickly open it again.

    Start coding!

Use the IDE

You can also use the Git menu or the Select Repository control in the Visual Studio IDE to interact with a repository’s folders and files.

Here’s how.

To clone a repo and open a project

  1. In the Visual Studio IDE, select the Git menu, and then select Clone Repository.


    Screenshot of the Git menu in Visual Studio 2022 with Clone Repository selected.

  2. Follow the prompts to connect to the Git repository that includes the files you’re looking for.

To open local folders and files

  1. In the Visual Studio IDE, select the Git menu, select Local Repositories, and then select Open Local Repository.


    Screenshot of the Git menu in Visual Studio 2022 with the Local Repository and Open Local Repository showing.

    Alternatively, you can perform the same task from Solution Explorer. To do so, choose the Select Repository control, select the ellipsis icon that’s next to the Filter repositories box, and then select Open Local Repository.


    Screenshot of the Select Repository control with the ellipsis icon selected and the Open Local Repository option showing.

  2. Follow the prompts to connect to the Git repository that has the files you’re looking for.

Browse to an Azure DevOps repo

Here’s how to browse to and clone an Azure DevOps repo by using Visual Studio.

  1. Open Visual Studio.
  2. On the start window, select Clone a repository.


    Screenshot of the Clone a Repository dialog in Visual Studio, for Azure DevOps.

  3. In the Browse a repository section, select Azure DevOps.


    Screenshot of the 'Browse a repository' section of the 'Clone a repository' dialog box in Visual Studio, Azure DevOps highlighted.

  4. Follow the prompts to clone an Azure DevOps repo that includes the files you’re looking for, and then open your project.

Open a project from a GitHub repo with Visual Studio 2019

How you open a project from a GitHub repo by using Visual Studio depends on which version you have. Specifically, if you’ve installed version Visual Studio 2019 version 16.8 or later, there’s a new, more fully integrated Git experience in Visual Studio available to you.

But no matter which version you’ve installed, you can always open a project from a GitHub repo with Visual Studio.

Visual Studio 2019 version 16.8 and later

Here’s how to use Git in Visual Studio 2019 version 16.8 or later.

Clone a GitHub repo and then open a project

  1. Open Visual Studio 2019.
  2. On the start window, select Clone a repository.

    Screenshot of the Clone a Repository dialog in Visual Studio 2019 version 16.8 and later

  3. Enter or type the repository location, and then select Clone.

    Screenshot of the Clone a Repository dialog where you enter a Git repo URL in Visual Studio 2019 version 16.8 and later.

  4. You might be asked for your user sign-in information in the Git User Information dialog box. You can either add your information or edit the default information it provides.

    Screenshot of the Git User Information dialog where you enter or edit your account info in Visual Studio 2019 version 16.8 and later.

    Select Save to add the info to your global .gitconfig file. (Or, you can select Cancel if you’d like to save the info later.)

    Next, Visual Studio automatically loads and opens the solution from the repository.

    Screenshot of a project in Git that's open in Solution Explorer in Visual Studio 2019 version 16.8 and later.

  5. If your repository contains multiple solutions, Solution Explorer displays them. For a list view of the solutions, select the Switch Views button in Solution Explorer.

    Screenshot of a project in Git that's open in Solution Explorer, with the Switch Views button highlighted in Visual Studio 2019 version 16.8 and later.

    Solution Explorer then gives you the option to open the root folder in Folder View or to select a solution file to open.

    Screenshot of the .sln file in Git that's open in Solution Explorer, after you've selected the Switch Views button in Visual Studio 2019 version 16.8 and later.

    To toggle the view, select the Switch Views button again.

    Tip

    You can also use the Git menu in the Visual Studio IDE to clone a repo and open a project.

    Screenshot of the Git menu in Visual Studio 2019 version 16.8 and later.

Open a project locally from a previously cloned GitHub repo

  1. Open Visual Studio 2019 version 16.8 or later.
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