How to automatically configure a Git repository

In this article, we explain how connecting your Read the Docs account to GitHub, Bitbucket, or GitLab makes Read the Docs able to automatically configure your imported Git repositories and your Read the Docs projects.

✅️ Signed up with your Git provider?

If you signed up or logged in to Read the Docs with your GitHub, Bitbucket, or GitLab credentials, you’re all done. Your account is connected.

The rest of this guide helps to understand how the automatic configuration works.

⏩️️ Signed up with your email address?

If you have signed up to Read the Docs with your email address, you can add the connection to the Git provider afterwards. You can also add a connection to an additional Git provider this way.

Please follow How to connect your Read the Docs account to your Git provider in this case.

Automatic configuration

When your Read the Docs account is connected to GitHub, Bitbucket, or GitLab and you import a Git repository, the integration will automatically be configured on the Read the Docs project and on your Git repository.

Here is an outline of what happens:

  1. A list of repositories that you have access to are automatically listed on Read the Docs’ project import.

  2. You choose a Git repository from the list (see Importing your documentation).

  3. Data about the repository is now fetched using the account connection and you are asked to confirm the setup.

  4. When Read the Docs creates your project, it automatically sets up an integration with the Git provider, and creates an incoming webhook whereby Read the Docs is notified of all future changes to commits, branches and tags in the Git repository.

  5. Your project’s incoming webhook is automatically added to your Git repository’s settings using the account connection.

  6. Read the Docs also configures your project to use the Git provider’s webhook via your account connection, so your project is ready to enable Pull Request builds.

After the import, you can continue to configure the project. All settings can be modified, including the ones that were automatically created.

See also

Manually import your docs

Using a different provider? Read the Docs still supports other providers such as Gitea or GitHub Enterprise. In fact, any Git repository URL can be configured manually.


A single Read the Docs account can connect to many different Git providers. This allows you to have a single login for all your various identities.

How does the connection work?

Read the Docs uses OAuth to connect to your account at GitHub, Bitbucket, or GitLab, You are asked to grant permissions for Read the Docs to perform a number of actions on your behalf.

At the same time, we use this process for authentication (login) since we trust that GitHub, Bitbucket, or GitLab have verified your user account and email address.

By granting Read the Docs the requested permissions, we are issued a secret OAuth token from your Git provider.

Using the secret token, we can automatically configure the repository that you select in the project import. We also use the token to send back build statuses and preview URLs for pull requests.


Access granted to Read the Docs can always be revoked. This is a function offered by all Git providers.

Git provider integrations

If your project is using Organizations (Read the Docs for Business) or maintainers (Read the Docs Community), then you need to be aware of who is setting up the integration for the project.

The Read the Docs user who sets up the project through the automatic import should also have admin rights to the Git repository.

A Git provider integration is active through the authentication of the user that creates the integration. If this user is removed, make sure to verify and potentially recreate all Git integrations for the project.

Permissions for connected accounts

Read the Docs does not generally ask for write permission to your repository code (with one exception detailed below) and since we only connect to public repositories we don’t need special permissions to read them. However, we do need permissions for authorizing your account so that you can login to Read the Docs with your connected account credentials and to setup Continuous Documentation Deployment which allow us to build your documentation on every change to your repository.

Read the Docs requests the following permissions (more precisely, OAuth scopes) when connecting your Read the Docs account to GitHub.

Read access to your email address (user:email)

We ask for this so you can create a Read the Docs account and login with your GitHub credentials.

Administering webhooks (admin:repo_hook)

We ask for this so we can create webhooks on your repositories when you import them into Read the Docs. This allows us to build the docs when you push new commits.

Read access to your organizations (read:org)

We ask for this so we know which organizations you have access to. This allows you to filter repositories by organization when importing repositories.

Repository status (repo:status)

Repository statuses allow Read the Docs to report the status (eg. passed, failed, pending) of pull requests to GitHub. This is used for a feature currently in beta testing that builds documentation on each pull request similar to a continuous integration service.


Read the Docs for Business asks for one additional permission (repo) to allow access to private repositories and to allow us to setup SSH keys to clone your private repositories. Unfortunately, this is the permission for read/write control of the repository but there isn’t a more granular permission that only allows setting up SSH keys for read access.

GitHub permission troubleshooting

Repositories not in your list to import.

Many organizations require approval for each OAuth application that is used, or you might have disabled it in the past for your personal account. This can happen at the personal or organization level, depending on where the project you are trying to access has permissions from.

You need to make sure that you have granted access to the Read the Docs OAuth App to your personal GitHub account. If you do not see Read the Docs in the OAuth App settings, you might need to disconnect and reconnect the GitHub service.

See also

GitHub docs on requesting access to your personal OAuth for step-by-step instructions.