Most useful git commands

Most useful git commands

Lifecycle of git

The following figure shows the distinct areas of git. Knowing this concept is essential in order to understand git.

Figure 1: The lifecycle of the status of your files

Figure 1: The lifecycle of the status of your files

This is an overview of the most common git commands. I strongly recommend knowing its basic and using it to anybody writing code, whether alone or particularly within a team. To get a quick theoretical introduction into the topics please have a look here: Getting Started - Git Basics


Set your details

git config --global "John Doe"
git config --global ""

Use --global to set the configuration for all projects. If git config is used without --global and run inside a project directory, the settings are set for the specific project.

One can configure Git to automatically remove references to deleted remote branches when fetching:

git config --global fetch.prune true

Make git ignore file modes

cd project/
git config core.filemode false

This option is useful if the file permissions are not important to us, for example when we are on Windows.

See your settings

git config --list

Get help for a specific git command

git help clone

Starting a repo

Initialize a git repository for existing code

cd existing-project/
git init

Clone a remote repository

git clone

This creates a new directory with the name of the repository.

Clone a remote repository in the current directory

git clone .


Update and merge your current branch with a remote

cd repository/
git pull origin master

Where origin is the remote repository, and master the remote branch. If you don’t want to merge your changes, use git fetch

Update a forked repo

git fetch upstream
git checkout master
git merge upstream/master


# 1. Clone your fork:
  git clone

# 2. Add remote from original repository in your forked repository: 
  cd into/cloned/fork-repo
  git remote add upstream git://
  git fetch upstream

# 3. Updating your fork from original repo to keep up with their changes:
  git pull upstream master 

View remote urls

git remote -v

Change origin url

git remote set-url origin http//

Add remote

git remote add remote-name

merge master and dev**

I generally like to merge master into the development first so that if there are any conflicts, I can resolve in the development branch itself and my master remains clean.

(on branch development)$ git merge master
(resolve any merge conflicts if there are any)
git checkout master
git merge development (there won't be any conflicts now)


Create a branch

git checkout master
git branch new-branch-name

Here master is the starting point for the new branch. Note that with these two commands we don’t move to the new branch, as we are still in master and we would need to run git checkout new-branch-name. The same can be achieved using one single command:

git checkout -b new-branch-name

Create a branch from a previous commit

git branch branchname sha1-of-commit

# or using a symbolic reference (e.g. last commit):
git branch branchname HEAD~1

# or 
git checkout -b branchname sha1-of-commit


Checkout a branch

git checkout new-branch-name

See commit history for just the current branch

git cherry -v master

(master is the branch you want to compare)

Merge branch commits

git checkout master
git merge branch-name

Here we are merging all commits of branch-name to master.

Merge a branch without committing

git merge branch-name --no-commit --no-ff

See differences between the current state and a branch

git diff branch-name

See differences in a file, between the current state and a branch

git diff branch-name path/to/file

Delete a branch

git branch -d new-branch-name

Push the new branch

git push origin new-branch-name

Get all branches

git fetch origin

Get the git root directory

git rev-parse --show-toplevel


Remove from repository all locally deleted files

git rm $(`git ls-files --deleted`)


Delete all untracked files

git clean -f

Including directories:

git clean -f -d

Preventing sudden cardiac arrest:

git clean -n -f -d


Delete all files from a git repository that have already been deleted from disk:

git ls-files --deleted -z | xargs -0 git rm

Source (and alternatives):

Show total file size difference between two commits

Short answer: Git does not do that. Long answer: See

Unstage (undo add) files:

git reset HEAD file.txt

See closest tag

git describe --tags `git rev-list --tags --max-count=1`

Source: See also git-describe.

Check Differences

See non-staged (non-added) changes to existing files

git diff

Note that this does not track new files.

See staged, non-commited changes

git diff --cached
# or
git diff --staged

--staged is a synonym for --cached

See differences between local changes and master

git diff origin/master

Note that origin/master is one local branch, a shorthand for refs/remotes/origin/master, which is the full name of the remote-tracking branch.

See differences between two commits


See the files that changed between two commits

git diff --name-only COMMIT1_ID COMMIT2_ID

See the files changed in a specific commit

git diff-tree --no-commit-id --name-only -r COMMIT_ID
git show --pretty="format:" --name-only COMMIT_ID


See diff before push

git diff --cached origin/master

See diff with only the changed lines (no context)

git diff --unified=0

See details (log message, text diff) of a commit

git show COMMIT_ID

Count the number of commits

git rev-list HEAD --count
git rev-list COMMIT_ID --count

Check the status of the working tree (current branch, changed files…)

git status


git add changed_file.txt
git add folder-with-changed-files/
git commit -m "Commiting changes"

Rename/move and remove files

git rm removeme.txt tmp/crap.txt
git mv file_oldname.txt file_newname.txt
git commit -m "deleting 2 files, renaming 1"

Change message of last commit

git commit --amend -m "New commit message"

Push local commits to remote branch

git push origin master

Revert one commit, push it

git revert dd61ab21
git push origin master

Revert to the moment before one commit

#reset the index to the desired tree
git reset 56e05fced

#move the branch pointer back to the previous HEAD
git reset --soft HEAD@{1}
git commit -m "Revert to 56e05fced"

#Update working copy to reflect the new commit
git reset --hard


Undo last commit, preserving local changes

git reset --soft HEAD~1

Undo last commit, without preserving local changes

git reset --hard HEAD~1

Undo last commit, preserving local changes in index

git reset --mixed HEAD~1
git reset HEAD~1

See also

Undo non-pushed commits

git reset origin/master

Reset to remote state

git fetch origin
git reset --hard origin/master

See local branches

git branch

See all branches

git branch -a



See recent commit history

git log

See commit history for the last two commits

git log -2

See commit history for the last two commits, with diff

git log -p -2

short for patch, the -2 can be omitted

See commit history printed in single lines

git log --pretty=oneline

Debug SSH connection issues

GIT_SSH_COMMAND="ssh -vvv" git clone <your_repository>

Have git pull running every X seconds, with GNU Screen

Use Ctrl+a Ctrl+d to detach the screen. See previous git commands executed

history | grep git

# or

grep '^git'  /root/.bash_history

See recently used branches (i.e. branches ordered by most recent commit)

git for-each-ref --sort=-committerdate refs/heads/ | head


Look for conflicts in your current files

grep -H -r "<<<" *
grep -H -r ">>>" *
grep -H -r '^=======$' *