Chapters ▾ 2nd Edition

3.3 Git Branching - Branch Management

Branch Management

Now that you’ve created, merged, and deleted some branches, let’s look at some branch-management tools that will come in handy when you begin using branches all the time.

The git branch command does more than just create and delete branches. If you run it with no arguments, you get a simple listing of your current branches:

$ git branch
* master

Notice the * character that prefixes the master branch: it indicates the branch that you currently have checked out (i.e., the branch that HEAD points to). This means that if you commit at this point, the master branch will be moved forward with your new work. To see the last commit on each branch, you can run git branch -v:

$ git branch -v
  iss53   93b412c fix javascript issue
* master  7a98805 Merge branch 'iss53'
  testing 782fd34 add scott to the author list in the readmes

The useful --merged and --no-merged options can filter this list to branches that you have or have not yet merged into the branch you’re currently on. To see which branches are already merged into the branch you’re on, you can run git branch --merged:

$ git branch --merged
* master

Because you already merged in iss53 earlier, you see it in your list. Branches on this list without the * in front of them are generally fine to delete with git branch -d; you’ve already incorporated their work into another branch, so you’re not going to lose anything.

To see all the branches that contain work you haven’t yet merged in, you can run git branch --no-merged:

$ git branch --no-merged

This shows your other branch. Because it contains work that isn’t merged in yet, trying to delete it with git branch -d will fail:

$ git branch -d testing
error: The branch 'testing' is not fully merged.
If you are sure you want to delete it, run 'git branch -D testing'.

If you really do want to delete the branch and lose that work, you can force it with -D, as the helpful message points out.


The options described above, --merged and --no-merged will, if not given a commit or branch name as an argument, show you what is, respectively, merged or not merged into your current branch.

You can always provide an additional argument to ask about the merge state with respect to some other branch without checking that other branch out first, as in, what is not merged into the master branch?

$ git checkout testing
$ git branch --no-merged master