Kirby with headphones

How to download software from GitHub

How to download software from GitHub

Oct 29, 2023

Crosspost from cohost

Github page of Doom Retro, annotated to highlight Releases, Code Button (download as Zip), and About and Website link.

Remember in the early days of cohost when people debated if it's hard to find the download link for things on github? Spurred on by a recent post, I did the obvious solution and wrote a guide for doing that. Use the above image as a guide.

The Guide

Using the Doom Retro github as an example.

Most software

Simply put, downloads on GitHub are called Releases because you release them, so to download software, click on the releases section on the side, which should also have the latest version. You'll then be taken to the latest release version page for the thing, where you can see the download links below the patch notes. Simply click the version you want.

Technically, you can also click on the word "releases" in the sidebar, or that blue hyperlink. Those will take you to all releases published on GitHub. Just use the links in the box marked with the green "Latest" label.

Most other edge cases

If you can see the readme file below the code, check if it has a link for where to download. The website link below the description in the top of the sidebar might also have a direct download link (as is the case with Doom Retro), or just host the app itself if it's a web app.

Things that are just the code

Not something normal people should expect to see, here just in case. Basically, click on the green "Code" button and download it as a zip.


Again, just in case. Within the main panel that shows all the code files, click on the one that ends in .user.js. If you have Greasemonkey or Tampermonkey installed, it should prompt you to install. You may need to click on the Raw button to get just the text.

Discussion about the second part below the cut

Why do people have trouble downloading apps from Github/Why is it like this?

Github is a place for developers. Its primary purpose is to host code. The main view when you look at software is the code. That's the big panel with all the files and folders. It does not care as much about being a place to download software. That's why the place to download software is in the sidebar and not on the main page. It doesn't consider it as important to devs.

When people who aren't techies go and download something, they are looking for a download button. They do not think in terms of releases because they are not software developers, so they won't go looking for a Releases section, because they want a Download button.

Share this:

Support me with Ko-fi and follow me on Twitter and Neocities to keep up with me, or subscribe to my RSS feed.

Tags: #guide #github #help #download

Recent Posts


Support me