How can I ‘unfork’ a notebook (because has changed beyond recognition from the source notebook)?

That is, you want to unlink it from the source notebook, so the fork message at the top of the page disappears.

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Hi Martien, currently you can’t do this except by creating a new notebook, copying and pasting all the cells from the old notebook into it, and then deleting the old notebook.

Given your post in the other thread, I’m guessing you’re well aware of the fact that duplicating and deleting isn’t exactly the same as “unforking”: if the notebook has been published, there’s no way to create a new notebook that has the same URI (for good reasons!). So it’s possible this isn’t the answer you’re looking for.

If on the other hand, this is good enough, you can save yourself some time if you’re willing to run a node.js program from the command line: see the script I posted (based on work of @mootari) in the “backup method?” thread, which has notebook “download” and “upload” functionality (at least until the API changes).

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  1. Fork original notebook
  2. Publish The Fork (We call it fork1)
  3. Fork the fork1 notebook and publish it (we call it fork2)
  4. Trash fork1

Although fork symbol still be displayed in thumbnail


But fork message at the top of page disappears


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If you just want to keep the fork message hidden from the public, note that forks of unpublished notebooks do not have the fork message displayed publicly (so you don’t have to trash fork1, you can just unpublish it). The icon is always displayed though.


Hi Bryan,

Thanks for your reply. Will dive into it shortly.

Have a nice day.

Thanks David. Will give it a try soon.

Have a nice day as well.

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I’d love to see an option to “detach” a fork, so that even the fork icon won’t be displayed anymore. As mentioned by others trashing the parent notebook is not sufficient (even when the trash is emptied), and by copying everything into a new notebook one loses the edit history.

I think I would limit that to forks of one’s own notebooks at best. I’ve had a few cases where I accidentally liked a completely unchanged fork before realizing it was not original work. Now, at the moment I’m sure it’s mosely someone (presumably) using a fork to save a notebook for later, but it still worries me.

I kind of hope that Observable will manage to avoid the issues that seem to be inherent to likes/retweets/upvotes in social media sites (especially the part where popularity contests drive the platform to be less and less about producing original work). If I people could just copy other people’s notebook and present it as their own with a click or two I think that would make things worse in the long run.


Certainly, although that can complicate things, as for forks of a fork the complete chain needs to be checked.

But there’s another issue with forks that I previously missed: You can only access the history starting from the revision that got forked. So even forking won’t preserve history.

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