Git Commands - Quick and Dirty

An Overview of Useful Git Commands

Git is a popular open source Version Control System that allows decentralized management of project repositories.

Here's a quick and dirty guide to common git commands:

This is not a tutorial on how to use git. It's meant as a quick way to look up git commands. Please do not use these commands if you're just learning to use git; kindly follow these links at the bottom of this post to get Git guides and tutorials.

Git Quick Commands Listing

Git Configuration

Add your name and email (baked into each commit made):

git config --global "Your Name"
git config --global

Configure text editor to use (e.g. to use vim)

git config --global core.editor vim

Adding colors

git config --global color.diff auto
git config --global color.status auto
git config --global color.branch auto

In case you have a GPG key you’d like used to sign your commits you can add it

# list GPG keys that you have the private keys to

gpg --list-secret-keys --keyid-format LONG

# add your key ID to git

git config --global user.signingkey YOUR_KEYID_HERE

# automatically sign all commits

git config --global commit.gpgSign true

Listing all configurations set

git config --list

Other useful configurations

# only push the current branch (instead of pushing all matching)

git config --global push.default simple

# Automatically rebase pulls

git config --global branch.autosetuprebase always

Git Basics

Initialize a repository

# initialize a new git repository

git init

# add all files in the current directory to the new repo

git add .

# adds a commit to the new repo

git commit -m "Initial commit"

Cloning a remote repository

# clone repository via https

git clone

# clone repository via ssh

git clone username@host:/path/to/repository

Adding files to repository

# add all in the current directory to staging area

git add .

# Add all files (new, modified,deletions) to index (stage)

git add -A # perfoms git add .; git add -u

# Add specific files to staging area

git add filename.txt

Listing files and tracking status

# List tracked files

git ls-files;

# List all untracked files

git ls-files --others  
# add --directory for directories

Removing a file from tracking

# Unstage a file but preserve it's contents

git reset filename

# Remove files from index, stage it's deletion from HEAD

git rm filename

To prevent tracking of files; add the file or directory to the .gitignore file (each file/directory on a new line).


# will prompt for a commit message in the configured text editor

git commit  

# shorthand for adding a message to the commit

git commit -m "Fixes stuff x"

# Quick Add & Commit - add all modified files and commit

git commit -am "The commit message here"

# Status of files in index vs Working directory

git status

Resetting and Reverting Repo

Revert to previous commit (graceful - does not delete history)

# git revert [SHA-1]

git revert HEAD

Undo changes you've made to a file i.e. and replace it with the HEAD version.

# git checkout -- [FILENAME]

git checkout -- myfile

Reset to previous state: Do not use if already commited to shared remote

# git reset --hard [SHA-1] # Reset completely delete history and staged

git reset --hard HEAD

# git reset --soft [SHA-1] # does not touch staging area or working tree

git reset --soft HEAD

Re-clone from a remote repository; will loose changes not in the remote. (e.g if local git corrupt)

rm -fr .git
git init
git remote add origin [your-git-remote-url]
git fetch
git reset --mixed origin/master
git branch --set-upstream-to=origin/master master  

Git Branches

# Create local branch

git branch branchname

# Move/switch to a branch

git checkout branchname

# Create and switch to branch

git checkout -b branchname

# Fetch file from another branch

git checkout branchtwo -- path/to/file

# Push to a new remote branch, e.g. if remote name is origin

git push -u origin branchname

# Delete Local Branch

git branch -d branchname

# Delete remote branch

git push origin :branchname

# Forcefully delete from both local and remote

git branch -D branchname

# Update local database of remote branches (prune deleted)

git fetch -p

# Checkout branches with latest commits #esp for cleaning old branches

git for-each-ref --sort=-committerdate --format='%(refname:short) %(committerdate:short)'

Git Branch Naming Conventions

  • Use grouping tokens (short words) at the beginning of branch names. e.g. wip(work in progress), feat(feature), fix(bug fix), temp(temporary/throaway branch)
  • Separate branch name parts using slashes i.e. wip/material-design, fix/authflow
  • Do not start branch names with numbers, git may confuse them for SHA-1's
  • Avoid long branch-names
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Git merge

Before merging, checkout to branch you want to merge to:

git checkout master

# Merge local branch

git merge branchname

# Always generate merge commit even on fast-forward

git merge --no-ff branchname

# List branches that have been merged to current branch (e.g master)

git branch --merged

git branch --no-merged  #list branches that haven't been merged to current

# Delete merged branches

git branch --merged | xargs git branch -d

Merge remote branch

# Update the remote

git fetch origin

# Merge remote branch

git merge origin/branchname

# SHORTCUT - Fetch and merge tracked branch

git pull

Rewriting Git History

NOTE: Do not rewrite public commits/history

# Updates staged changes to previous commit message.(i.e replaces the previous commit)

git commit --amend

Git Rebase

Moving a branch to a new base commit (an ID, a branch name, a tag, or a relative reference to HEAD)

git rebase v0.2.2
# NOTE - all commits v0.2.2..HEAD will be rewritten

Interactive Rebasing

Changing multiple commit messages. git rebase -i 9fceb02 (9fceb02 is an example ID) provides an interactive text editor for modifying all commits after the base specified (eg 9fceb02)

# Modify all commits after base specified (HEAD~3)

git rebase -i HEAD~3

# Replace 'pick' command with rebasing command e.g

pick 6fceb02 Added this thing
squash 9fabb3a Awesome Featured added
squash a3a44as I changed stuff
# All squashed commit will be combined into the single 'picked' commit

# Note: Another text editor for combined commit messages opens

Other Interactive Rebase Commands:

  • p, pick - use commit
  • r, reword - use commit, but edit the commit message
  • e, edit - use commit, but stop for amending
  • s, squash - use commit, but meld into previous commit
  • f, fixup - like "squash", but discard this commit's log message
  • x, exec - run command (the rest of the line) using shell

Interactive Rebasing Tips

To reorder commits, reorder the lines; they are executed from top to bottom.
If you remove a line, THAT COMMIT WILL BE LOST
However, if you remove everything, the rebase will be aborted.
Empty commits are commented out

Working with Remotes

Adding remote - Connecting local repo with a remote repo (for example a repo on github)

git remote add origin
#git remote add [name] [repourl]

# Verify remotes - List existing remotes

git remote -v

# List all remote branches

git branch -r

# Remove remote

git remote remove origin

# Replace remote url

git remote set-url origin

# To check out commits on an upstream master

git log --oneline master..origin/master

# Merge remote branch eg upstream master into current branch

git merge origin/master

# Rebase (fetch remote branch and merge)

git pull --rebase remote

# Fetch all remotes

git fetch --all #git fetch [remotename] #to fetch single remote

#push to a new remote branch

git push -u origin branchname


Stash - Store modified tracked files and staged changes on a stach for reapplying later

#push stash onto stack

git stash

# Store stash with message

git stash save 'A custom message'

# List stored stashes

git stash list

# Reapply most recent stash

git stash apply
#for older stashes pick from list e.g git stash apply stash@{1}

# Remove stash from stack

git stash drop stash@{0}
#drops stash reference or if no parameter drops latest stash

# Clear all stashes

git stash clear

# Apply latest stash and remove from stack

git stash pop

Useful Commands

History - Checkout the history of your commits

git log --oneline --graph --decorate --all --color

# Filter logs

git log --author=author
git log --after="MMM DD YYYY"
git log --before="MMM DD YYYY"
git log --grep REGEXP  # Commits with matches to regular expression

#list history of file

git log --follow filename

# Show changes to file

git whatchanged file

# Show author of each line in file

git blame file

# Search through repo history

git rev-list --all | xargs git grep -F 'searchstring'
#git rev-list --all | xargs git grep 'REGEX' #to search for regular expression

Diff - Compare states

# Compare two commits

git diff master..upstream/branchname
#git diff HEAD~2..HEAD~1

# Compare staged changes to your last commit

git diff --cached

# Compare working directory to your last commit

git diff HEAD


#annotated tag

git tag -a v1.5 -m 'Message Here'

#lightweight tag

git tag v1.5.2
#to create lightweight tag; don’t supply the -a, -s, or -m option

#list tags

git tag

#show tag and related commit

git show v1.2

# Tag older commit

git tag -a v2 9fceb02 -m "Message here"
# git tag -a v1.2 [SHA-1] -m "[your message]"

# Rename tag

git tag newtag oldtag
git tag -d oldtag
git push origin :refs/tags/oldtag
git push --tags

# Adding a message to an existing tag

git tag tagname tagname -f -m "the message"
# creates a tag of the same name with a message and overwrites old tag

# Push referenced tags along with branches

git push --follow-tags


# Perform clean dry-run - show files to delete

git clean -n

# Remove all untracked files from working copy

git clean -f

# Remove all untracked and ignored files and directories from working copy

git clean -fxd

# Cleanup unnecessary files and optimize the local repository

git gc #calls git prune with prunes loose objects older than 2wks

git gc --prune=all #prunes all loose objects

Useful Git Files

  • .gitignore
  • .gitattributes
  • .mailmap
  • .gitmodules

Guides and Tutorials on Git

Git Cheat Sheets (Printable)

Published: September 22, 2014