Can I give read-only access to a private repo (from a developer account)?

Hi @navyseai,

Our product team is definitely discussing new features to make collaboration of different types easier on GitHub. However, nothing on this front has shipped as of yet. Any new features will be announced in the GitHub Changelog, so I’d recommend keeping an eye on that page for updates. 

As for collaborating on projects where you want someone to be able to work on a portion of the codebase but not the entire codebase, it might be worth breaking your codebase into smaller, reusable pieces. Then you could add someone as a collaborator on a repository that only has access to the smaller piece of the whole and you can use continuous integration to make sure that changing code in one piece doesn’t break the overall codebase.

Hope that helps!

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Would be VERY useful to be able to share a URL (and key?) for read only accesses


Yea… that was my next question, if it was possible to restrict users to certain folders.

I came up with some workarrounds to fix these problems

I think it is a good idea to add a read-only permission that allows a developer to share a URL of his code to an employer for example during a technical test.


+1 on this feature request! Please!


As some have mentioned. I have clients that would like to review my code, but still limit their access to specific files/folders. And the same for private code that could be shared with potential clients to give them an idea about the quality of work that can be provided, and so on.

If perhaps there were permissions for specific files/folders with a timeout option. That way, there wouldn’t be a need to revoke permissions at a later date.

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The “Solution” is not a solution though :(  It’s just an explanation of the current system which does NOT have the requested feature. Glad I’m not alone in needing (not wanting) this feature!


4 months later and I see nothing about this feature on the Changelog. So having read-only access to a private repo is not in our future? What service are developers using to show their private work to prospective clients?

@firstprinciples-ai wrote:

Hi everyone, apologies if this is repeating a topic discussed already. 


Can I give read-only access to my private repo, to someone who is not a collaborator at present? Can I share a url, or add someone as a read-only collaborator? I don’t want to give fork/clone/download rights. 


I have a Developer account at present (not a Team/Business account, so cannot structure an organization-based acess). Here are the types of Github accounts. Thanks.

I think it is a good idea to add a read-only permission that allows a developer to share a URL of his code to an employer for example during a technical test.

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For Organizations, what about a specific permission level so our customers (external collaborators) can only create issues (and why not read-only access to projects/wiki too?) inside private repos?

Currently they also have access to code + pull requests and they use paid seats which is problematic for us.

EDIT : (I’m talking about the “Team” plan)



Hello Github,

Please implement this feature (including Github Enterprise)!  Thank you.


Existing features (including lack of forced PR’s) for private repos don’t make this any better than hosting a repo on any number of other services.

 Another +1 to read-only.

It’s crazy that to share some code with folk I have to hand them the keys to the kingdom, ie ability to mess up master. We should be able to share code (that they can clone etc) but push etc privileges should be a tickbox and by default disabled.


+1 Please add this feature for a developer account. Btw if I add Collaborators to my private repo, then can they push to any branch or create any branch on github?

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+1 Here too. I’m kinda astonished this hasn’t been implemented yet. You should be able to create a unique, read-only, guid-like link to your private repo similar to what you can do with files in OneDrive. This is a no-brainer.

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+10000 my organization NEEDS this, we have different teams, support teams, testing teams, and some are outsorced… we don’t want them to have access to ALL of the code, only to give us feedback about testing results and Issues about the applications, etc…

Any update on this?

+1. Youtube allows publishing a video that is only accessible via link. Not private per se, just “unlisted”. I need to share repos with online classmates for peer review, but I don’t want my beginner code in a new language to be publicly available.

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+1 for this as a feature request.

I assumed this was possible, but couldn’t figure out how to do it, and ended up here after googling and now learning that it’s not possible.

Not being able to differentiate read-only vs. read/write access when selectively sharing something private seems to me to be somewhat of a departure from the common practice of other web services.

Hi there,

any updates on this?

I have the same requirement as others that reply to this topic.

I want to add users to my private repo, but I want them to contribute only using PR, not by committing directly.

I’m sure that not only I have such a requirement.

This feature request is from ‎12-11-2017, so it is taking forever :disappointed_relieved: