Git --local-branching-on-the-cheap
Topics ▾ Version 2.6.3 ▾ merge-strategies last updated in 2.6.3


The merge mechanism (git merge and git pull commands) allows the backend 'merge strategies' to be chosen with -s option. Some strategies can also take their own options, which can be passed by giving -X<option> arguments to git merge and/or git pull.


This can only resolve two heads (i.e. the current branch and another branch you pulled from) using a 3-way merge algorithm. It tries to carefully detect criss-cross merge ambiguities and is considered generally safe and fast.


This can only resolve two heads using a 3-way merge algorithm. When there is more than one common ancestor that can be used for 3-way merge, it creates a merged tree of the common ancestors and uses that as the reference tree for the 3-way merge. This has been reported to result in fewer merge conflicts without causing mismerges by tests done on actual merge commits taken from Linux 2.6 kernel development history. Additionally this can detect and handle merges involving renames. This is the default merge strategy when pulling or merging one branch.

The 'recursive' strategy can take the following options:


This option forces conflicting hunks to be auto-resolved cleanly by favoring 'our' version. Changes from the other tree that do not conflict with our side are reflected to the merge result. For a binary file, the entire contents are taken from our side.

This should not be confused with the 'ours' merge strategy, which does not even look at what the other tree contains at all. It discards everything the other tree did, declaring 'our' history contains all that happened in it.


This is the opposite of 'ours'.


With this option, 'merge-recursive' spends a little extra time to avoid mismerges that sometimes occur due to unimportant matching lines (e.g., braces from distinct functions). Use this when the branches to be merged have diverged wildly. See also git-diff[1] --patience.


Tells 'merge-recursive' to use a different diff algorithm, which can help avoid mismerges that occur due to unimportant matching lines (such as braces from distinct functions). See also git-diff[1] --diff-algorithm.


Treats lines with the indicated type of whitespace change as unchanged for the sake of a three-way merge. Whitespace changes mixed with other changes to a line are not ignored. See also git-diff[1] -b, -w, and --ignore-space-at-eol.

  • If 'their' version only introduces whitespace changes to a line, 'our' version is used;

  • If 'our' version introduces whitespace changes but 'their' version includes a substantial change, 'their' version is used;

  • Otherwise, the merge proceeds in the usual way.


This runs a virtual check-out and check-in of all three stages of a file when resolving a three-way merge. This option is meant to be used when merging branches with different clean filters or end-of-line normalization rules. See "Merging branches with differing checkin/checkout attributes" in gitattributes[5] for details.


Disables the renormalize option. This overrides the merge.renormalize configuration variable.


Controls the similarity threshold used for rename detection. See also git-diff[1] -M.


This option is a more advanced form of 'subtree' strategy, where the strategy makes a guess on how two trees must be shifted to match with each other when merging. Instead, the specified path is prefixed (or stripped from the beginning) to make the shape of two trees to match.


This resolves cases with more than two heads, but refuses to do a complex merge that needs manual resolution. It is primarily meant to be used for bundling topic branch heads together. This is the default merge strategy when pulling or merging more than one branch.


This resolves any number of heads, but the resulting tree of the merge is always that of the current branch head, effectively ignoring all changes from all other branches. It is meant to be used to supersede old development history of side branches. Note that this is different from the -Xours option to the 'recursive' merge strategy.


This is a modified recursive strategy. When merging trees A and B, if B corresponds to a subtree of A, B is first adjusted to match the tree structure of A, instead of reading the trees at the same level. This adjustment is also done to the common ancestor tree.

With the strategies that use 3-way merge (including the default, 'recursive'), if a change is made on both branches, but later reverted on one of the branches, that change will be present in the merged result; some people find this behavior confusing. It occurs because only the heads and the merge base are considered when performing a merge, not the individual commits. The merge algorithm therefore considers the reverted change as no change at all, and substitutes the changed version instead.