Using Tortoise SVN and Subversion

Russell Bateman
26 January 2010
last update:

Table of Contents

How to set up and use TortoiseSVN
Additional notes
Using Subversion outside of Eclipse
Useful links


This article explains how to set up and use TortoiseSVN, an interface to Subversion on Windows. Ultimately, it's not a formal application run with its own interface, but a plug-in that sensitizes Windows File Explorer to Subversion control of files and directories in chosen subsets of the Windows filesystem.

TortoiseSVN is a solution only for Windows File Explorer. To employ Subversion for an Eclipse project on Windows, you will need to use TortoiseSVN plus Subclipse.

Subclipse is a plug-in for Eclipse that executes Subversion commands from within Eclipse so that you do not need to go out to the filesystem. In my work, I find that I use both TortoiseSVN (or svn on Linux) and Subclipse to get my work done. Once my project is set up and I'm actively developing it in Eclipse, I don't use TortoiseSVN (or svn) so much.

Everything except TortoiseSVN is covered in a different document, Using Subversion and Subclipse in Windows and Linux Development in Eclipse. If working on Windows, you should first install TortoiseSVN, then go to this second document.

It's crucial to understand, if you do not already, that the TortoiseSVN software is a Windows client for Subversion access and works with Windows File Explorer.

How to set up and use TortoiseSVN

  1. Download TortoiseSVN and install from
  3. Create the top-level directory of your managed filesystem.
  5. Here is an illustration of TortoiseSVN functionality as it appears in the File Explorer—just right-click in open space or on a file or directory. You will get different functionality depending on the context.


  6. Check out the repository corresponding to the subfolder open by choosing SVN Checkout.... Then, fill in the URL of repository field and confirm the other information in the Checkout dialog.

  8. Enter username and password, click the box to make TortoiseSVN remember your password if you like (otherwise you have to authenticate each and every action), and then find something to do while your files and directories are downloaded.
  10. For additional help using TortoiseSVN from the Windows File Explorer, please consult the links at the top of the left-hand navigational thumb found at About TortoiseSVN.
  12. If you want integration with the Eclipse IDE, refer to the section below on this topic.

Additional notes

- You will find that you can update your copy of what's in the Subversion repository using TortoiseSVN or other Windows approaches (on Windows) or svn on Linux and Macintosh independently of Subclipse (i.e. not using Team -> Update from inside Eclipse). All you must do in Eclipse afterward is right-click on the project affected (by the independent filesystem operation) and choose Refresh.

For still other notes on this topic, though not so much about TortoiseSVN, please see the Using Subversion and Subclipse document.