What is GitHub?

Codecademy Team
Learn how to sign up for a GitHub account and share your code

What is GitHub?

One of the best ways to share what you’ve been learning with other people is to put your code on GitHub. GitHub is both a website and a service that facilitates software development by allowing you to store your code in containers, called repositories, and by tracking changes made to your code. In addition, it offers a hosting service and tools to build, test, and deploy code.

GitHub uses Git, a version-control development tool, to manage your projects by tracking changes to files and allowing multiple people to work on the same project. Although both GitHub and Git have similar names, GitHub is a service, while Git is a development tool that can be used by you outside of and without GitHub.

Why is GitHub important?

There are many reasons why knowing about GitHub is important for your personal growth as a developer. A large part of the appeal of Github is the access it grants developers to the massive community of developers around the world who openly share their code, projects, and software development tools with each other. Therefore, if you want to continue working on your Git skills, creating your programming portfolio, or finding work, GitHub can help.

How to Sign Up for an Account

Now that you’re aware of GitHub’s benefits, you probably want to sign up for an account and try it out yourself. First, navigate to the home page of the GitHub website, https://github.com.

You can click on the Sign Up button in the upper right corner or fill out your email and click on Sign up for GitHub, as highlighted in this screenshot:

Home page of the GitHub website with the **Sign Up** buttons highlighted

You’ll be taken to a page asking you to fill out your email. If you did so on the home page, it will already be filled out for you. If it isn’t filled out, enter the email you wish to use.

GitHub prompting for email with **Continue** button highlighted

Pick an email that you’re comfortable sharing with peers and potential hires. Because of the way Git works, it’s important to note that your email can be exposed publicly when you make a pull request or merge in code to a repository, making it visible to anyone looking through your projects. When you sign up for a new GitHub account, your email address is hidden by default.

Once you have an email entered, click on “continue.” GitHub will then ask you to create a password. Fill out a password for your new account.

GitHub prompting for password with **Continue** button highlighted

When you click on “continue,” GitHub will then ask you for a username. Fill out the user name you would like to use (you may need to try a few times to find one that’s available).

GitHub prompting for user name with **Continue** button highlighted

Like with email addresses, when choosing a username, it’s wise to choose one you wouldn’t mind future employers or colleagues seeing. A combination of your first and last name, like firstnamelastname, or using initials, like i_lastname, are good because they make it easy to find you on GitHub or identify you when you make pull requests or reviews. Remember, you’re likely using this account to share or access code.

Also be aware that usernames are first come, first serve and may not be available if someone else already claimed the username. Additionally, usernames may only contain alphanumeric characters and hyphens are not allowed at the beginning or end.

After you click on “continue,” GitHub will prompt to ask if you want to receive product updates and announcements. Make your selection and click “continue,” again. GitHub will then prompt you to solve a puzzle to prove you’re a human being. Click on “Verify” to view the puzzle.

Once you submit the solution to the puzzle, a “Create Account” button will appear. Click on it and GitHub will prompt you for an 8-digit code. GitHub will send you the code to the email you entered earlier. Enter the code from the email and GitHub will create your account.


Once your account is created, GitHub will ask a couple of questions to personalize your experience. Fill these out or click on the “skip personalization” link at the bottom of the page.

You should now see a personal dashboard with a section for your projects and some messages:

GitHub personal dashboard

Now you have your own GitHub account! You can continue to customize your account by:

That’s it; you now have your very own GitHub account. 🎉


With more people working remotely and with teams distributed across different countries and time zones, GitHub and Git can be valuable tools for collaborating on projects. You can also use GitHub to work on any file-based project, such as writing documentation.

Let’s review what you did in this article:

  • Learned that GitHub is both a website and service for storing and sharing code
  • Learned that GitHub uses Git to facilitate software development by tracking changes
  • Created your own GitHub account
  • Enabled security features like keeping your email private and turning on two-factor authentication

Going Further

Once you feel comfortable navigating GitHub, consider doing the following:

  • Add information about yourself in your profile, including an avatar, bio, location, etc.
  • Set your status in your profile to let people know what you’re doing.
  • If you feel comfortable enough with Git, you can take a look at this article on GitHub Pages, GitHub’s hosting service that allows you to create a personal website, “project site”, based on a repository to make your portfolio site.
  • If you’re interested in paid accounts, GitHub has a pricing page with various types of accounts and features you can look at.

Show the world what you can do with your code!