p4 sync


Update the client workspace to reflect the contents of the depot.


This command behaves differently when syncing a client workspace that maps files from a depot of type graph. See Working with a depot of type graph.


p4 [g-opts] sync [-f -k -L -n -N -q -r] [-m max] [file[revRange] ...]
p4 [g-opts] sync [-L -n -N -q -s] [-m max] [file[revRange] ...]
p4 [g-opts] sync [-L -n -N -p -q] [-m max] [file[revRange] ...]


p4 sync brings the client workspace into sync with the depot by copying files matching its file pattern arguments from the depot to the client workspace. When no file patterns are specified on the command line, p4 sync copies a particular depot file only if it meets all of the following criteria:

In new, empty workspaces, all depot files meet the last two criteria, so all the files visible through the workspace view are copied into the user’s workspace.

If file patterns are specified on the command line, only those files that match the file patterns and that meet the above criteria are copied.

If the file pattern contains a revision specifier, the specified revision is copied into the client workspace.

If the file argument includes a revision range, only files included in the revision range are updated, and the highest revision in the range is used. Files that are no longer in the workspace view are not affected if the file argument includes a revision range. Use p4 help revisions to get help about specifying revisions.

The p4 sync command automatically resolves files where the previously synced version does not differ from the newer depot version. Any files you have open when you run p4 sync, will need to be manually resolved using the p4 resolve command.

Newly synced files are read-only; p4 edit and p4 delete make the files writable. Do not use your operating system’s commands to make the files writable; instead, use Perforce to do this for you.



Force the sync. Perforce performs the sync even if the client workspace already has the file at the specified revision. If the file is writable, it is overwritten.

This option does not affect open files, but it does override the noclobber client option.


Keep existing workspace files; update the have list without updating the client workspace. Use p4 sync -k only when you need to update the have list to match the actual state of the client workspace.

p4 sync -k is an alias for the p4 flush. Refer to documentation for the p4 flush for additional details and a description of the relevant use cases.

If your administrator has set the zerosyncPrefix configurable, all workspaces with names that begin with the specified prefix assume p4 sync -k.


For scripting purposes, perform the sync on a list of valid file arguments in full depot syntax with a valid revision number.

When this flag is used, the arguments are processed together by building an internal table similar to a label. This file list processing is significantly faster than having to call the internal query engine for each individual file argument. However, the file argument syntax is strict and the command will not run if an error is encountered.

-m max

Sync only the first max files specified.


Preview mode: Display the results of the sync without actually performing the sync.


Preview mode: Display a summary of the expected network traffic associated with a sync, without performing the sync.

This tells you how many files are to be added or updated, which is useful if you’re dealing with many large files and/or are bandwidth or diskspace-limited.

This option is useful for estimating network impact of a sync before attempting to perform the sync. If you’ve recently updated your client workspace view, it’s useful to know if you have inadvertently included a folder tree that holds several gigabytes of assets before attempting to sync your newly-configured workspace.


Populate a client workspace, but do not update the have list. Any file that is already synced or opened is bypassed with a warning message.

This option is typically used for workspaces used in processes (such as certain build or publication environments) where there is no need to track the state of the workspace after it has first been synced.


Specify options for parallel file transfer. The configuration variable net.parallel.max must be set to a value greater than 1 to enable the --parallel option.

  • threads=n sends files concurrently using n independent network connections. The specified threads grab work in batches.

    There is no default value; a value must be set.

  • batch=n specifies the number of files in a batch.

    Default value is 8.

  • batchsize=n specifies the number of bytes in a batch.

    Default value is 512K.

  • min=n specifies the minimum number of files in a parallel sync. A sync that is too small does not initiate parallel file transfers.

    Default value is 9.

  • minsize=n specifies the minimum number of bytes in a parallel sync. A sync that is too small will not initiate parallel file transfers.

    Default value is 576K.

See Parallel processing for more information.


Quiet operation: suppress normal output messages. Messages describing errors or exceptional conditions are not suppressed.


Reopen files that are mapped to new locations in the depot, in the new location. By default, open workspace files remain associated with the depot files that they were originally opened as.

For example, pending work can be moved to a different stream by running p4 client -f -s followed by p4 sync -r.


Safe sync: Compare the content in your client workspace against what was last synced. If the file was modified outside of Perforce control, an error message is displayed and the file is not overwritten.

If your client workspace specification has both the allwrite and noclobber options set, this check is performed by default.


See “Global Options”.

Usage Notes

Can File Arguments Use Revision Specifier? Can File Arguments Use Revision Range? Minimal Access Level Required




  • If the client workspace view has changed since the last sync, the next sync removes from the client workspace those files that are no longer visible through the workspace view (unless a revision range is used), and copies into the client workspace those depot files that were not previously visible.

    By default, any empty directories in the workspace are cleared of files, but the directories themselves are not deleted. To remove empty directories upon syncing, turn on the rmdir option in the p4 client form.

  • If a user has made certain files writable by using OS commands outside of Perforce’s control, p4 sync will not normally overwrite those files. If the clobber option in the p4 client form has been turned on, however, these files will be overwritten.

    You can prevent this behavior (at a minor cost in performance) by using the -s "safe sync" option. Even if the clobber option is set, p4 sync -s will not overwrite files modified outside of Perforce control.

  • A progress indicator is available for p4 sync if you request it with p4 -I sync -q.
  • It is not recommended that you issue a p4 sync with multiple arguments referencing the same file multiple times, as in this example: p4 sync depot/project/...@1000 //depot/project/file.txt@1010. Doing so will result in unpredictable, inconsistent revisions.


The -m max option is useful when combined with the -n option for efficient scripting. For example, a command like p4 sync -n -m 1 does not sync any files, but displays only one line of output if there are any files to be synced, or a message indicating that the workspace is up to date. Without the -m 1 option, the output could conceivably be thousands of lines long, all of which would be discarded.

The -L option is intended for use by scripts or automated reporting processes. File arguments must be in full depot syntax, and have a valid revision number. File specifications that do not meet these requirements are silently ignored. Using this option speeds up file list processing.

Parallel processing

Depending on the number of files being transferred, the p4 sync command might take a long time to execute. You can speed up processing by having this command transfer files using multiple threads. You do this by setting the net.parallel.max configuration variable to a value greater than one and by using the --parallel option to the p4 sync command. Parallel processing is most effective with long-haul, high latency networks or with other network configuration that prevents the use of available bandwidth with a single TCP flow. Parallel processing might also be appropriate when working with large compressed binary files, where the client must perform substantial work to decompress the file.

To configure parallel processing, set the net.parallel.max configuration variable to a value greater than one and use the --parallel option to the p4 sync command.

  • The net.parallel.max configuration variable can be set to any value between 0 and 100. A value of 0 or 1 disables parallel processing. A value greater than 1 enables parallel processing up to the specified level. So if you want to set the --parallel option to 12, the net.parallel.max variable must be set to at least 12.
  • The --parallel option allows you to specify how the parallel processing is to be done. You can specify the suboptions in any order.

    Use the min and/or minsize suboptions to indicate that you don’t want parallel processing unless the sync involves sending at least min number of files or at least minsize number of bytes.

    Use the batch and/or batchsize suboptions to specify how many files or bytes should be taken at a time. Setting the batch size small should result in the best use of the network at the risk of overloading database resources.

If the net.parallel.max configuration variable is not set or if the requested number of parallel threads exceeds the value set for net.parallel.max, the command will execute without using parallel threads or will use the maximum number of allowed threads.

You can also control parallel processing behavior using the following configurables: net.parallel.batch, net.parallel.batchsize, net.parallel.min, net.parallel.minsize, and net.parallel.threads. This sets behavior globally and can be overridden for a given p4 sync command if that command specifies different parallel processing option values.

Working with streams

If your client workspace is dynamically-generated because your client workspace’s Stream: field is set to a valid stream, and you have also set the StreamAtChange: field to point to a specified changelist number, p4 sync, when called with no arguments, will sync your workspace to the revisions of files available as of that changelist, using the client workspace that corresponds to the corresponding stream specification at that point in time.

Working with a depot of type graph

You can sync a client that has a view spec that maps files in a repo. If you do not specify a branch in the repo, p4 sync defaults to the master branch of the repo. If the client spec maps both a classic depot and a depot of type graph, p4 sync updates the client workspace for both types of depots. To sync a repo branch or a SHA-1, see the final three examples in the section Examples.

For more information about depots of type graph, see the section Including Graph Depots and repos in your client in the topic p4 client and the section Working with depots of type graph in the topic p4 depot.

Retrying the command

Over unreliable networks, you can specify the number of retries to attempt and the length of time beyond which the Perforce application assumes that the network has timed out. Set net.maxwait in your workspace’s P4CONFIG file or on a one-command basis from the command line, and specify the number of retries with -r n, where n is the number of times to attempt reconnection.

The command below attempts to sync the user’s workspace, making up to three attempts to resume the sync if interrupted. The command fails after the third 60-second timeout.

$ p4 -r3 -vnet.maxwait=60 sync

Because the format of the output of a command that times out and is restarted cannot be guaranteed (for example, if network connectivity is broken in the middle of a line of output), avoid the use of -r on any command that reads from standard input.


p4 sync

Copy the latest revision of all files from the depot to the client workspace, as mapped through the client view.

If the file is already open in the client workspace, or if the latest revision of the file exists in the client workspace, it is not copied.

p4 sync file.c#4

Copy the fourth revision of file.c to the client workspace, with the same exceptions as in the example above.

p4 sync //depot/proj1/...@21

Copy all the files under the //depot/proj1 directory from the depot to the client workspace, as mapped through the client view.

Don’t copy the latest revision; use the revision of the file in the depot after changelist 21 was submitted.

p4 sync @labelname

If labelname is a label created with p4 label, and populated with p4 labelsync, bring the workspace into sync with the files and revision levels specified in labelname.

Files listed in labelname, but not in the workspace view, are not copied into the workspace.

Files not listed in labelname are deleted from the workspace. (That is, @labelname is assumed to apply to all revisions up to, and including, the revisions specified in labelname. This includes the nonexistent revision of the unlisted files.)

p4 sync @labelname,@labelname

Bring the workspace into sync with a label as with p4 sync @labelname, but preserve non-labeled files in the workspace.

(The revision range @labelname,@labelname applies only to the revisions specified in the label name itself, and excludes the nonexistent revision of the unlisted files.)

p4 sync @2011/06/24

Bring the workspace into sync with the depot as of midnight, June 24, 2011. (That is, include all changes made during June 23.)

p4 sync status%40june1st.txt

Sync a filename containing a Perforce wildcard by using the ASCII expression of the character’s hexadecimal value. In this case, the file in the client workspace is status@june1st.txt.

For details, see Limitations on characters in filenames and entities.

p4 sync file.c#none

Sync to the nonexistent revision of file.c; the file is deleted from the workspace.

p4 sync ...#none

Sync to the nonexistent revision of all files; all files in the workspace (that are under Perforce control) are removed.

p4 sync dev

p4 sync refs/heads/master

For a repo in a depot of type graph, sync the branch named dev or master. Both syntax styles are supported.

p4 sync c2ae39f

For a repo in a depot of type graph, sync the Git commit associated with the SHA-1 hash key c2ae39f4.

p4 sync refs/tags/v1.8.5-rc3

For a repo in a depot of type graph, sync the repo associated with a tag, such as v1.8.5-rc3.

Related Commands

To open a file in a client workspace and list it in a changelist

p4 add
p4 edit
p4 delete
p4 integrate

To copy changes to files in the client workspace to the depot

p4 submit

To view a list of files and revisions that have been synced to the client workspace

p4 have