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Git Notes

    Here are some common git operations for which we often find ourselves searching.


    Checkout a remote branch ‘develop’ and keep it linked to the origin

    git checkout -t origin/develop

    It should report: “Branch develop set up to track remote branch develop from origin.”

    List all branches (both local and remote)

    git branch -a

    List local branches and their corresponding upstream remote branches

    git branch -vv

    Revert local changes to a file (prior to commit)

    git checkout file

    Revert all local changes to the current subtree (prior to commit)

    git checkout .

    Cute hack to revert all local changes (prior to commit)

    git stash git stash drop

    Undo a commit

    git reset --soft HEAD^

    Undo multiple commits

    git reset --soft HEAD@{2}

    Where 2 is the number of commits to undo.

    Update to latest HEAD, preserving local changes and local commits on top

    git stash
    git pull --rebase
    git stash pop

    Push changes on master to origin

    git push origin master

    Delete untracked files and directories

    git clean -df

    Interactively stage patches from changed file(s)

    git add -p <path>

    Roll back the last commit’s changes to a particular file

    git checkout HEAD@{1} -- file


    Branch master to a new local branch “new_branch”

    git checkout -b new_branch master

    Push local branch to remote

    git push -u origin new_branch

    Make the current local branch start tracking a corresponding remote branch

    git branch --set-upstream-to origin/new_branch

    This is not necessary if you used git push -u as suggested above.

    List the local branches that have already been merged to this one

    git branch --merged

    Diff a file between two branches

    git diff branch1 branch2 -- file

    Delete a branch both locally and remotely

    git branch -rd origin/branch_to_kill
    git branch -d branch_to_kill
    git push origin :branch_to_kill

    Move a commit from bad_branch to good_branch

    # First cherry-pick the commit onto the correct branch:
    git checkout good_branch
    git cherry-pick deadbeef
    # Then remove the commit from the bad branch:
    git checkout bad_branch
    git rebase -i
    # Change the undesirable commit to "noop"

    For more on branching, see Git topic branches.

    Rename the current branch

    git branch -m <new branch name>

    Git + SVN

    Clone an SVN repository to a local Git repository

    git svn clone -s http://svn.code.sf.net/p/jhotdraw/svn/

    Commit and push changes, even with local changes in the working copy

    git commit git stash git svn dcommit git stash pop

    Update to latest trunk, preserving local changes and local commits on top

    git stash git svn rebase git stash pop


    Recursively search for HelloWorld.file (and display the most recent commit modifying it)

    git ls-tree -r HEAD | grep HelloWorld.file

    Recursively search for all files containing the phrase ‘import HelloWorld’

    git grep 'import HelloWorld'

    Recursively search for all files in any topic branch containing the phrase ‘import HelloWorld’

    git grep 'import HelloWorld' $(git rev-list --all --no-walk)


    Display a log with colored word diffs

    git log -p --color-words

    Add -S to less to virtually wrap long lines.

    Display a diff with colored words between a file in one commit and a file in another commit

    git diff <commitA>:<file> <commitB>:<file> --color-words

    Add -S to less to virtually wrap long lines.

    Display all contributing authors of a project including their e-mail

    git log --format='%aN <%ae&>' | sort -u

    Respects .mailmap.

    Viewing the history for a single file

    git log --follow HelloWorld.file

    This history is algorithmically calculated and must be carefully preserved.

    Simultaneous (within a single commit) significant changes + file renaming (including relocation) can prevent the algorithm from successfully tracing the file’s history, or cause it to begin tracing the wrong file.

    Keeping code changes separate from renames should prevent this confusion, but it is good practice to check log --follow before pushing to a remote repository.

    See commits in branch B not present in branch A

    There are two main options. The first:

    git log A..B

    will display the different commits in full git log format. NB: the .. between commits is important to sure only the difference in commits is considered.

    The second:

    git cherry -v A B

    will display a simple list of the different commits, one per line, with commit message and hash.


    There are some Git-related scripts available in the scijava-scripts project.

    List information about all remote branches including last author, commit date and unmerged commit count


    Advanced and/or dangerous

    Create a repository with g+w permissions

    git init --shared=group

    Or for a bare repository:

    git init --bare --shared=group

    (Bare repositories are meant for a remote server repository that all your coworkers push into and pull/fetch from.)

    Push all remote branches from one remote (e.g., “origin”) to another (e.g., “github”)

    git push github $(git for-each-ref refs/remotes/origin | \
      grep -v HEAD | \
      while read sha1 type ref
        echo $ref:refs/heads/${ref#refs/remotes/origin/}

    Another way to push all remote branches between remotes

    eval git push github $(git for-each-ref | \
      sed -n 's/.*\t\(refs\/remotes\/origin\/\(.*\)\)$/\1:refs\/heads\/\2/p')

    Fully garbage collect and compact the repository (deletes all orphaned refs!)

    git reset --hard git for-each-ref --format="%(refname)" refs/original/ | \
      xargs -n 1 git update-ref -d git reflog expire --expire=now --all git gc --aggressive --prune=now

    Rewriting history

    Split a subdirectory into a separate git repository

    See these posts on Stack Overflow:

    Throw away git-svn-id metadata

    git filter-branch --msg-filter ' sed -e "/^git-svn-id:/d" '

    Combine the first two commits of a Git repository

    See this post on Stack Overflow:

    Change the author of a commit

    git commit --amend --author="Author Name"

    Change the author of many commits

    See this post on Stack Overflow:

    Merge multiple repositories

    See these posts on Stack Overflow:


    Creating a shared remote repository

    ssh you@server
    mkdir repos/remote.git
    cd repos/remote.git
    git --bare init --shared=group
    cd ~/local
    git remote add origin ssh://you@server/home/you/remote.git
    git push origin master
    git config branch.master.remote origin
    git config branch.master.merge refs/heads/master

    Creates a bare remote repository at ssh://server/home/you/remote.git that tracks your local repository in /home/you/local. Adopted from Tim Lucas.

    Displaying a filtered set of commits

    Assume you want to see commits in branch stephan, but only those that are not part of the history of branch saalfeld:

    git log stephan ^saalfeld

    More realistically, if you want to see all the commits which are in a topic branch, but not yet merged into master:

    git log --all ^master

    If you want to see the changes which come from a topic branch which was merged in commit deadbeef, use this command line:

    git log deadbeef^..deadbeef^2

    Explanation: deadbeef is a merge commit, so its first parent (deadbeef^, can also be written as deadbeef^1) was the current HEAD when the merge was performed, and the second parent (deadbeef^2) is the tip of the branch which was merged. The argument A..B is short form of ^A B, i.e. all commits reachable from B excluding those which are also reachable from A.