Git Cheatsheet

Last Updated: 2024-02-06

"Repos" and "Areas"

  • the working copy: where you are editing and building (not committed yet to your repo).
  • staging area / index
  • local repo: your own repository with your own commit history.
  • local "cached" copy of a remote repository.
  • remote repo.

The staging area (index) is shared by all branches; committed code (in local repository) is per branch. So it doesn't matter what branch you're on when you add a file.

Working Tree

  • Discard changes: git restore.

Working Tree <=> Staging Area

  • Working Tree => Staging Area: git add / git rm
  • Staging Area => Working Tree (Unstage): git reset HEAD / git restore --staged <file>

Staging Area <=> Local Repo

  • Staging Area => Local Repo: git commit
  • Local Repo => Staging Area / Working Tree:
    • git reset --soft HEAD^ (files are still staged)
    • git reset HEAD^ (files are no longer stage, but still in the working area)
    • git reset --hard HEAD^ (changes are thrown away, not even in the working tree)

Local Repo <=> Remote Repo

  • Local Repo => Remote Repo: git push
  • Remote Repo => Local Repo: git fetch



In Git, a branch is a pointer to one specific commit, while a commit is a snapshot of your repository at a specific point in time.

# show local branches
$ git branch

# show remote branches
$ git branch -r

# show both local and remote branches
$ git branch -a


HEAD: "Where am I right now?"

Most of the time, HEAD points to a branch name. HEAD is synonymous with "the last commit in the current branch."

  • attached: in the normal state, HEAD is attached to a branch.
  • detached: HEAD is pointing directly to a commit instead of a branch.


# Pull updates from remote
$ git pull origin main --rebase

# Commit local changes
$ git add -A
$ git commit --amend
$ git commit --amend --no-edit

# Push
$ git push origin main

Checkout a Remote Branch

$ git fetch
$ git checkout test


$ git checkout -b <branch> --track <remote>/<branch>


$ git diff ...origin

Check what's included in a commit:

$ git diff COMMIT~ COMMIT


Config file location:

  • Global: ~/.gitconfig
  • System: /etc/gitconfig
  • Local: /git/configcoding

Set a name

$ git config --global user.name "My Name"
$ git config --local user.name "Foo Bar"

Show the name

$ git config --local user.name
Foo Bar


# check remote tags
$ git ls-remote --tags origin

# check local tags
$ git tag
$ git tag -l

Checkout a tag:

$ git checkout tags/<tag_name>
$ git checkout tags/1.0.0

Remove a tag:

# remove local tag
$ git tag -d <tag_name>

# remove remote tag
$ git push origin :[tag]
$ git push origin :refs/tags/<tag_name>

Get the latest tag:

$ git fetch; git tag --sort=creatordate | head -1`

Get latest tags of a specific version

If you have CI setup to produce new tags frequently, use this to find the latest 5 tags with a specific version (e.g. 1.10.0).

$ git tag --sort=creatordate | grep 1.10.0 | tail -5

Add All

To add everything to stage, including additions and removals, use

$ git add -A

Undo commits

$ git reset HEAD~1

Now all the changes done in that commit are unstaged and need to be committed again.

Abandon Changes

Abandon changes and revert your tree to the "clean" state of your current branch. Don't use git revert, use:

# Go back to HEAD
$ git reset --hard HEAD

# Go back to the commit before HEAD
# i.e. abandon the top most commit
$ git reset --hard HEAD^

# Equivalent to "HEAD^"
$ git reset --hard HEAD~1

# Go back two commits before HEAD
$ git reset --hard HEAD~2

# Go back to origin/HEAD
$ git reset --hard origin/HEAD

To revert changes made to your working copy

$ git restore .

To uncommit but does not revert local changes

$ git reset HEAD~

To uncommit and revert local changes

$ git reset HEAD~ --hard

Reset to a remote branch

$ git fetch origin
$ git reset --hard origin/master

In increasing order of dangerous-ness:

  • --soft: moves HEAD but doesn't touch the staging area or the working tree.
  • --mixed: moves HEAD and updates the staging area, but not the working tree.
  • --merge: moves HEAD, resets the staging area, and tries to move all the changes in your working tree into the new working tree.
  • --hard: moves HEAD and adjusts your staging area and working tree to the new HEAD, throwing away everything.

Upstream Remote

Add your own fork as origin remote

$ git remote add origin https://github.com/<your_fork>/<project_name>.git

Add the central repo as upstream remote

$ git remote add upstream https://github.com/<central_repo>/<project_name>.git

To sync up with upstream

$ git fetch upstream
$ git merge upstream/develop


$ git pull upstream develop

Config global user name and email

Global config is in $HOME/.gitconfig; per repo config is in .git/config.

$ git config --global user.name <your_name>
$ git config --global user.email <[email protected]>

Commit in Wrong User/Email

If user is specified in .git/config as

    name = your_name
    email = [email protected]

however if git is using the wrong user settings after commit

Author: your_name <[email protected]>

Check if you have these settings in env


Remove those then try again

How do I make Git ignore file mode (chmod) changes?

$ git config core.fileMode false


$ git config --global core.filemode false

or open .git/config and modify the core section.

Force Push to head

Override the remote HEAD

$ git push origin +HEAD^:master

Show Remote Logs

$ git log origin/main


cherry-pick: pick one change from anywhere in the repository and will apply it on your local branch.

export BRANCH=<branch to cherrypick>

git fetch origin
git checkout ${BRANCH}
git cherry-pick ${SHA}

git push origin HEAD:refs/for/${BRANCH}

git apply

# generate diff
git diff filename
git diff > my_patch.patch

# apply diff; will fail with conflicts
git apply my_patch.patch

# apply diff; ask to resolve conflicts
git apply --3way my_patch.patch

Remove all untracked files

git clean -f -x . The -x option removes all untracked files, including ignored files.

More clean commands:

  • git clean -n: dry run.
  • git clean -f: force untracked file deletion.
  • git clean -f -d: remove untracked directories.
  • git clean -f -x: remove untracked .gitignore files.
  • -i: do an interactive git clean.

Get the latest tag

git describe command finds the most recent reachable tag from a commit.

git describe --abbrev=0

# Get the latest tag of a certain version
git tag --sort=creatordate | grep 1.10.0 | tail -1

git fetch vs git pull

git pull = git fetch + git merge

  • git fetch: remote repo to local repo.
  • git merge: local repo to working directory.
  • git pull: remote repo to local repo AND working directory.

check if local repo is up to date

$ git fetch --dry-run


  • git fetch by default updates tags
  • git pull by default does NOT update tags, use git pull --tags

git checkout vs git switch

git switch -c <branch name> is equivalent to git checkout -b <branch name>.

To replace two common uses of git checkout: git switch to switch to a new branch after creating it if necessary, and git restore to restore changes from a given commit.

git rebase vs git merge

Both are designed to integrate changes from one branch into another branch.

  • git merge feature main will create a new "merge commit" in the feature branch to incorporate chagnes in the main branch.
  • git rebase main will move the feature on top of the main branch (incorporating all new commits in the main branch.) Much cleaner project history.

Patch a CL: checkout vs branch vs cherry-pick vs pull

before patch:


Checkout and create a new branch

$ git fetch foo bar && git checkout -b baz FETCH_HEAD

You will be in a new baz branch


$ git fetch foo bar && git checkout FETCH_HEAD

You will be in a HEAD detached at FETCH_HEAD branch (use git checkout -b baz to create a new baz branch)


$ git fetch foo bar && git cherry-pick FETCH_HEAD

You will stay in the main branch, check git log:


Pull and rebase

$ git pull foo bar --rebase

You will stay in the main branch, check git log:


Pull and merge

$ git pull foo bar --no-rebase (i.e. merge)

You will stay in the main branch, check git log:


https vs ssh

You can use either https or ssh to connect to remote repo:

  • https:
    • https://github.com/foo/bar.git
    • it will ask for your username and password when you try to connect remote repo
  • git:
    • [email protected]:foo/bar.git
    • it uses ssh keys to verify you identity.
      • Copy and paste your public key(~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub) to Github account
      • Specify the private key in ~/.ssh/config as
Host heroku.com
HostName heroku.com
IdentityFile /Users/username/.ssh/heroku_key

To check your remote

$ git remote show origin
* remote origin
    Fetch URL: https://github.com/foo/bar.git
    Push  URL: https://github.com/foo/bar.git
    HEAD branch: master

How to fix "detached HEAD"?

Option 1: discard changes and go back. These 2 are equivalent.

$ git switch <branch-name>
$ git checkout <branch-name>

Option 2: create a new branch at the current HEAD.

$ git checkout -b <new-branch-name>

macOS Uses Wrong Git Account

If multiple GitHub accounts are logged in using Mac OS X, the account info might be stroed by Keychain Access. Maven release plugin may fails for using wrong Github account.

[ERROR] Provider message:
[ERROR] The git-push command failed.
[ERROR] Command output:
[ERROR] remote: Permission to <...>/<...>.git denied to <...>.
[ERROR] fatal: unable to access 'https://github.com/<...>/<...>.git/': The requested URL returned error: 403

Solution: find Keychain Access in spotlight or by

Applications->Utilities->Keychain Access.app

Search for github and remove the records.