Setup and Config
Getting and Creating Projects
Branching and Merging
Sharing and Updating Projects
Inspection and Comparison
This manual describes the convention used throughout git CLI.
Many commands take revisions (most often "commits", but sometimes "tree-ish", depending on the context and command) and paths as their arguments. Here are the rules:
Revisions come first and then paths. E.g. in
git diff v1.0 v2.0 arch/x86 include/asm-x86,
v2.0are revisions and
When an argument can be misunderstood as either a revision or a path, they can be disambiguated by placing
--between them. E.g.
git diff -- HEADis, "I have a file called HEAD in my work tree. Please show changes between the version I staged in the index and what I have in the work tree for that file". not "show difference between the HEAD commit and the work tree as a whole". You can say
git diff HEAD --to ask for the latter.
--, git makes a reasonable guess, but errors out and asking you to disambiguate when ambiguous. E.g. if you have a file called HEAD in your work tree,
git diff HEADis ambiguous, and you have to say either
git diff HEAD --or
git diff -- HEADto disambiguate.
When writing a script that is expected to handle random user-input, it is
a good practice to make it explicit which arguments are which by placing
-- at appropriate places.
Here are the rules regarding the "flags" that you should follow when you are scripting git:
it’s preferred to use the non dashed form of git commands, which means that you should prefer
splitting short options to separate words (prefer
git foo -a -bto
git foo -ab, the latter may not even work).
when a command line option takes an argument, use the sticked form. In other words, write
git foo -oArginstead of
git foo -o Argfor short options, and
git foo --long-opt=Arginstead of
git foo --long-opt Argfor long options. An option that takes optional option-argument must be written in the sticked form.
when you give a revision parameter to a command, make sure the parameter is not ambiguous with a name of a file in the work tree. E.g. do not write
git log -1 HEADbut write
git log -1 HEAD --; the former will not work if you happen to have a file called
HEADin the work tree.
From the git 1.5.4 series and further, many git commands (not all of them at the time of the writing though) come with an enhanced option parser.
Here is an exhaustive list of the facilities provided by this option parser.
Commands which have the enhanced option parser activated all understand a couple of magic command line options:
gives a pretty printed usage of the command.
$ git describe -h usage: git describe [options] <committish>* --contains find the tag that comes after the commit --debug debug search strategy on stderr --all use any ref in .git/refs --tags use any tag in .git/refs/tags --abbrev [<n>] use <n> digits to display SHA-1s --candidates <n> consider <n> most recent tags (default: 10)
Some git commands take options that are only used for plumbing or that are deprecated, and such options are hidden from the default usage. This option gives the full list of options.
Options with long option names can be negated by prefixing
git branch has the option
--track which is on by default. You
--no-track to override that behaviour. The same goes for
Commands that support the enhanced option parser allow you to aggregate short
options. This means that you can for example use
git rm -rf or
git clean -fdx.
You can write the mandatory option parameter to an option as a separate word on the command line. That means that all the following uses work:
$ git foo --long-opt=Arg $ git foo --long-opt Arg $ git foo -oArg $ git foo -o Arg
However, this is NOT allowed for switches with an optional value, where the sticked form must be used:
$ git describe --abbrev HEAD # correct $ git describe --abbrev=10 HEAD # correct $ git describe --abbrev 10 HEAD # NOT WHAT YOU MEANT
Many commands that can work on files in the working tree
and/or in the index can take
options. Sometimes people incorrectly think that, because
the index was originally called cache, these two are
synonyms. They are not — these two options mean very
--cachedoption is used to ask a command that usually works on files in the working tree to only work with the index. For example,
git grep, when used without a commit to specify from which commit to look for strings in, usually works on files in the working tree, but with the
--cachedoption, it looks for strings in the index.
--indexoption is used to ask a command that usually works on files in the working tree to also affect the index. For example,
git stash applyusually merges changes recorded in a stash to the working tree, but with the
--indexoption, it also merges changes to the index as well.
git apply command can be used with
--index (but not at the same time). Usually the command
only affects the files in the working tree, but with
--index, it patches both the files and their index
entries, and with
--cached, it modifies only the index
Part of the git suite