This documentation was written to describe the 1.6.x series of Subversion. If you are running a different version of Subversion, you are strongly encouraged to visit and instead consult the version of this documentation appropriate for your version of Subversion.


svn switch (sw) — Update working copy to a different URL.


svn switch URL[@PEGREV] [PATH]

switch --relocate FROM TO [PATH...]


The first variant of this subcommand (without the --relocate option) updates your working copy to point to a new URL—usually a URL that shares a common ancestor with your working copy, although not necessarily. This is the Subversion way to make a working copy begin tracking a new branch. If specified, PEGREV determines in which revision the target is first looked up. See the section called “Traversing Branches” for an in-depth look at switching.

If --force is used, unversioned obstructing paths in the working copy do not automatically cause a failure if the switch attempts to add the same path. If the obstructing path is the same type (file or directory) as the corresponding path in the repository, it becomes versioned but its contents are left untouched in the working copy. This means that an obstructing directory's unversioned children may also obstruct and become versioned. For files, any content differences between the obstruction and the repository are treated like a local modification to the working copy. All properties from the repository are applied to the obstructing path.

As with most subcommands, you can limit the scope of the switch operation to a particular tree depth using the --depth option. Alternatively, you can use the --set-depth option to set a new sticky working copy depth on the switch target.

The --relocate option causes svn switch to do something different: it updates your working copy to point to the same repository directory, only at a different URL (typically because an administrator has moved the repository to another server, or to another URL on the same server).


--accept ACTION
--depth ARG
--diff3-cmd CMD
--quiet (-q)
--revision (-r) REV
--set-depth ARG


If you're currently inside the directory vendors, which was branched to vendors-with-fix, and you'd like to switch your working copy to that branch:

$ svn switch .
U    myproj/foo.txt
U    myproj/bar.txt
U    myproj/baz.c
U    myproj/qux.c
Updated to revision 31.

To switch back, just provide the URL to the location in the repository from which you originally checked out your working copy:

$ svn switch .
U    myproj/foo.txt
U    myproj/bar.txt
U    myproj/baz.c
U    myproj/qux.c
Updated to revision 31.
[Tip] Tip

You can switch just part of your working copy to a branch if you don't want to switch your entire working copy.

Sometimes an administrator might change the location (or apparent location) of your repository—in other words, the content of the repository doesn't change, but the repository's root URL does. For example, the hostname may change, the URL scheme may change, or any part of the URL that leads to the repository itself may change. Rather than check out a new working copy, you can have the svn switch command rewrite your working copy's administrative metadata to refer to the new repository location. If you use the --relocate option to svn switch, Subversion will contact the repository to validate the relocation request (looking for the repository at the new URL, of course), and then do this metadata rewriting. No file contents will be changed as the result of this type of switch operation—this is a metadata-only modification to the working copy.

$ svn checkout file:///var/svn/repos test
A    test/a
A    test/b

$ mv /var/svn/repos /var/svn/newlocation

$ svn update test/
svn: Unable to open an ra_local session to URL
svn: Unable to open repository 'file:///var/svn/repos'

$ svn switch --relocate file:///var/svn/repos \
                        file:///var/svn/tmp/newlocation test/

$ svn update test/
At revision 3.
[Warning] Warning

Be careful when using the --relocate option. If you mistype the argument, you might end up creating nonsensical URLs within your working copy that render the whole workspace unusable and tricky to fix. It's also important to understand exactly when one should or shouldn't use --relocate. Here's the rule of thumb:

  • If the working copy needs to reflect a new directory within the repository, use just svn switch.

  • If the working copy still reflects the same repository directory, but the location of the repository itself has changed, use svn switch with the --relocate option.