Git commands you should know

Today, I’ll show you the Git commands I’m using on a daily basis with my team mates.

As for the Docker commands article, I won’t repeat the most basic ones, you can just browse the Git documentation or various tutorials that fit you on the web.


  1. Git Status & logs
  2. File manipulation
  3. Commit cancellation
  4. Commit modification
  5. Pull & Rebase
  6. Branch deletion
  7. Branch renaming
  8. Cherry Pick
  9. Setting remote url
  10. Git diff

Git Status & logs

Besides the git status & git log command you should already be practicing, you may need to add some style for a better reading experience :

Git styled log In order to do so, you could just set up an alias (assuming you are on linux) :

git config --global alias.lg "log --color --graph --pretty=format:'%Cred%h%Creset -%C(yellow)%d%Creset %s %Cgreen(%cr) %C(bold blue)<%an>%Creset' --abbrev-commit"

And without an alias, simply type :

git log --graph --pretty=format:'%Cred%h%Creset -%C(yellow)%d%Creset %s %Cgreen(%cr) %C(bold blue)<%an>%Creset' --abbrev-commit

You can try the following to see the changes within the terminal but using an IDE or directly onto the diffs page proposed by Gitlab or Github (after a push) would be much more comfortable :

git show --color --pretty=format:%b $COMMIT

Alternatives to git log & git diff

There are multiple programs to help you with Git, personally I only rely on my IDE and our version control online tool (ie : Gitlab) :

  • A better Git log
  • Sourcetree
  • GitEye
  • SmartGit
  • P4merge

I haven’t used them and I’ll be more than pleased to hear about them from you ! They might be relevant for large merge requests.

Sometimes Gitlab or Github are getting weird on large merge requests (consider splitting instead of merging a huge bunch of work).

File Manipulation


Overwrite local files (reset hard)

In order to revert all changes based on the remote branch (located on the remote repository – ie: Github, Gitlab…), the reset hard command will do :

git reset --hard origin/<branch-name>

And to remove the latest commit from the current branch :

git reset --hard HEAD^

Finally once on another branch, you can apply a specific commit :

git reset --hard id_of_commit

Cancel files’ changes (using git stash)

This is another way to revert some unwanted changes but also a way to apply those changes onto another branch !

git stash

Then move onto the other branch to place the modifications and issue :

git stash apply

If you need to apply some other stashed commits, list them and apply the one you wish :

git stash list
git stash stash@{0}

Removing a file from a commit (git checkout)

Spot the referring commit for the file :

git checkout commit-id <path_to_file>

To revert changes to some specific files using checkout :

git checkout origin/branch-name -- path/to/file

Now to get back to another commit and make a new branch out of it :

git checkout -b name_of_commit_HEAD

Commit Modification

To modify the message of a commit :

git commit --amend -m "Hello new commit message"

If you forgot to stage a file to the last commit and wish to have it, you can index it and apply the modification to the last commit :

git commit --amend --no-edit

Pull & rebase

Whenever there is some work achieved remotely and you need to apply an update onto your branch, there are 2 methods (as I see and practice it) :

  1. git rebase
  2. git pull

I strongly advice doing a pull instead of a rebase which will apply a merge onto your branch you will need to push force afterwards.

Git rebase

git fetch -a
git rebase origin/master
git push -f

During the process you will need to correct the conflicts.

Git Pull

Using git merge will allow you to apply the changes from a branch onto the current one. But also a commit out of the change !

git merge other_branch

The pull command is actually doing a fetch then a merge at the same time !

git pull origin master

During the merge you will need to fix the conflicts if any.

Branch deletion

As simple as :

git branch -d name_of_branch

Branch renaming

git branch -m new-branch-name

Cherry picking

This feature is useful for instance in the following case :

  • You need to apply a hot fix on a specific version currently in production and of course you have been working a lot since that version.

In that case you can isolate the commit (I assume you squashed the commit during a merge) and apply it onto the specific version without other changes !

git cherry-pick id_of_commit

To see the list of commits with their id, you can use the following command, it might help :

git log --oneline

And to squash commits while merging :

git pull origin master --ff-only

Abort a cherry-pick

As for a merge, you can abort a cherry pick :

git cherry-pick --abort

Change the remote url (https/ssh)

Let’s say you need this in case you are behind a firewall which does not allow you ssh requests, just switch from ssh to https :

git remote set-url origin https://username@yourgitrepositoryurl

Differences between branches

If you are fond of command lines, then this one is for you :

git diff origin/master

You see here the differences between your branch and the remote master one. I admit using an IDE or whatever software will be more friendly 🙂


This is the end for now, I will try to update whenever I meet new useful Git commands. Drop a comment to let us know about your favorite ones !

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