How to add an empty directory to a Git repository

How do you add an empty directory to a Git repository? It’s a classic, and yet, I have to look it up every single time. Git does not support this out of the box:

Currently the design of the Git index (staging area) only permits files to be listed, and nobody competent enough to make the change to allow empty directories has cared enough about this situation to remedy it. Directories are added automatically when adding files inside them. That is, directories never have to be added to the repository, and are not tracked on their own. You can say git add <dir> and it will add the files in there. If you really need a directory to exist in checkouts you should create a file in it. .gitignore works well for this purpose; you can leave it empty or fill in the names of files you do not expect to show up in the directory. (source)

The same answer offers a workaround: just save an empty .gitignore file into the directory. At that point, git status shows the file as untracked. We can add it to the repository, and presto, our folder ends up captured in version control.

I don’t like using .gitignore for this. That file serves a different, unrelated goal. Finding it in an otherwise empty directory would cause puzzlement to my colleagues and my future self in six months. For better semantic and clarity, what I do is add a .keep file instead:

$ touch mydir/.keep

Same trick. Better semantics. When I pull this repository in six months, I will immediately grasp what’s going on (an alternative would be a README.md file with an explanation.)

Of course, if the dir is meant to fill-up over time, but we still want to ignore its future contents in version control, then .gitignore is the right tool for the job. Something like this would work (I dug it up on Stack Overflow, where else):

# Ignore everything in this directory
*
# Except this file
!.gitignore

I should probably adopt the #tirl tag, as in “Today I Re-Learned.”

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