You can set up a local version of your Jekyll GitHub Pages site to test changes to your site locally. We highly recommend installing Jekyll to preview your site and help troubleshoot failed Jekyll builds.

In this article:

Jekyll is not officially supported for Windows. For more information, see "Jekyll on Windows" in the official Jekyll documentation.

Requirements

We recommend using Bundler to install and run Jekyll. Bundler manages Ruby gem dependencies, reduces Jekyll build errors, and prevents environment-related bugs. To install Bundler, you must install Ruby.

  1. Open TerminalTerminalGit Bash.

  2. Check whether you have Ruby 2.1.0 or higher installed:

    ruby --version
    ruby 2.X.X
    
  3. If you don't have Ruby installed, install Ruby 2.1.0 or higher.

  4. Install Bundler:

    gem install bundler
    # Installs the Bundler gem
    
  5. If you already have a local repository for your Jekyll site, skip to Step 2.

Step 1: Create a local repository for your Jekyll site

  1. If you haven't already downloaded Git, install it. For more information, see "Set up Git."
  2. Open TerminalTerminalGit Bash.

  3. On your local computer, initialize a new Git repository for your Jekyll site:

    git init JEKYLL-SITE-REPOSITORY-NAME
    Initialized empty Git repository in /Users/octocat/my-site/.git/
    # Creates a new file directory on your local computer, initialized as a Git repository
    
  4. Change directories to the new repository you created:

    cd JEKYLL-SITE-REPOSITORY-NAME
    # Changes the working directory
    
  5. If your new local repository is for a Project pages site, create a new gh-pages branch:

    Note: You can skip this step if you would rather use the master branch for your Project Page. If you haven't checked out any branches, once you make a commit in your local repository, your change will appear on the master branch by default.

    git checkout -b gh-pages
    Switched to a new branch 'gh-pages'
    # Creates a new branch called 'gh-pages', and checks it out
    

    Tip: To learn more about creating a User, Organization or Project Page and which branch to use, see "User, Organization, and Project Pages." To learn more about how to build your site's source files from a /docs folder on the master branch, see "Configuring a publishing source for GitHub Pages."

Step 2: Install Jekyll using Bundler

To track your site's dependencies, Ruby will use the contents of your Gemfile to build your Jekyll site.

  1. Check to see if you have a Gemfile in your local Jekyll site repository:

    ls
    Gemfile
    

    If you have a Gemfile, skip to step 4. If you don't have a Gemfile, skip to step 2.

  2. If you don't have a Gemfile, open your favorite text editor, such as Atom, and add these lines to a new file:

    source 'https://rubygems.org'
    gem 'github-pages', group: :jekyll_plugins
    
  3. Name the file Gemfile and save it to the root directory of your local Jekyll site repository. Skip to step 5 to install Jekyll.

  4. If you already have a Gemfile, open your favorite text editor, such as Atom, and add these lines to your Gemfile:

    source 'https://rubygems.org'
    gem 'github-pages', group: :jekyll_plugins
    
  5. Install Jekyll and other dependencies from the GitHub Pages gem:

    bundle install
    Fetching gem metadata from https://rubygems.org/............
    Fetching version metadata from https://rubygems.org/...
    Fetching dependency metadata from https://rubygems.org/..
    Resolving dependencies...
    

    Tip: If you see a Ruby error when you try to install Jekyll using Bundler, you may need to use a package manager, such as RVM or Homebrew, to manage your Ruby installation. For more information, see Jekyll's troubleshooting page.

Step 3 (optional): Generate Jekyll site files

To build your Jekyll site locally, preview your site changes, and troubleshoot build errors, you must have Jekyll site files on your local computer. You may already have Jekyll site files on your local computer if you cloned a Jekyll site repository. If you don't have a Jekyll site downloaded, you can generate Jekyll site files for a basic Jekyll template site in your local repository.

If you want to use an existing Jekyll site repository on GitHub as the starting template for your Jekyll site, fork and clone the Jekyll site repository on GitHub to your local computer. For more information, see "Fork a repo."

Note: As of Jekyll 3.2, the default Jekyll site contains a Gemfile that locks Jekyll to the Gem version you build it with. To instead lock it to the version used by GitHub Pages, you'll uncomment the gem "github-pages", group :jekyll_plugins line in the steps below.

  1. If you don't already have a Jekyll site on your local computer, create a Jekyll template site in a new directory:

    jekyll _3.3.0_ new NEW-JEKYLL-SITE-REPOSITORY-NAME
    New jekyll site installed in /Users/octocat/NEW-JEKYLL-SITE-REPOSITORY-NAME.
    
  2. Navigate into your new site directory:

    cd NEW-JEKYLL-SITE-REPOSITORY-NAME
    
  3. Edit your Gemfile and remove the following line:

    "jekyll", "3.3.0"
    
  4. In the Gemfile, delete the # at the beginning of this line:

    gem "github-pages", group :jekyll_plugins
    
  5. Initialize your site directory as a Git repository.

    git init
    Initialized empty Git repository in /Users/octocat/name-of-your-directory
    
  6. Connect your remote repository on GitHub to your local repository for your GitHub Pages site.

    git remote add origin https://github.com/username-or-organization-name/your-remote-repository-name
    
  7. To edit the Jekyll template site, open your new Jekyll site files in a text editor. Make your changes and save them in the text editor. You can preview these changes locally on your computer without committing your changes using Git by running a Jekyll command to build your site.

  8. Add or stage your changes.

    git add .
    
  9. Commit your changes with a comment.

    git commit -m "updated site"
    
  10. To publish your changes on your GitHub Pages site, push your changes to your remote repository on GitHub.

    git push -u origin master
    

For more information on using this Git workflow, see "Good Resources for Learning Git and GitHub" or see this Git cheat sheet.

Step 4: Build your local Jekyll site

  1. Navigate into the root directory of your local Jekyll site repository.
  2. Run your Jekyll site locally:

    bundle exec jekyll serve
    Configuration file: /Users/octocat/my-site/_config.yml
               Source: /Users/octocat/my-site
          Destination: /Users/octocat/my-site/_site
    Incremental build: disabled. Enable with --incremental
         Generating...
                       done in 0.309 seconds.
    Auto-regeneration: enabled for '/Users/octocat/my-site'
    Configuration file: /Users/octocat/my-site/_config.yml
       Server address: http://127.0.0.1:4000/
     Server running... press ctrl-c to stop.
    
  3. Preview your local Jekyll site in your web browser at http://localhost:4000.

Keeping your site up to date with the GitHub Pages gem

Jekyll is an active open source project and is updated frequently. As the GitHub Pages server is updated, the software on your computer may become out of date, resulting in your site appearing different locally from how it looks when published on GitHub.

  1. Open TerminalTerminalGit Bash.

  2. Run this update command:

    • If you followed our setup recommendations and installed Bundler, run bundle update github-pages or simply bundle update and all your gems will update to the latest versions.
    • If you don't have Bundler installed, run gem update github-pages

Next steps: Configuring Jekyll

To configure your pages site further, see "Configuring Jekyll." To set up a project pages site, see Jekyll's official documentation on project pages URLs.

Further Reading