Git quick reference for beginners
There are many good resources for learning Git. (Here's an excellent online book, and this is my videos series introducing Git and GitHub.) But once you've learned the basics, it can be hard to remember which commands to use to execute the most common tasks.
I went searching for a Git reference guide that would be useful for beginners like myself, but didn't find anything ideal:
- Git - the simple guide is useful as a high-level overview of the basic commands, but doesn't provide enough details.
- Git Cheatsheet uses a nice interactive approach to summarize a ton of git commands on one screen, but it doesn't give you any sense of workflow.
- Git Reference is close to what I was looking for, and links each entry to the relevant section of Pro Git (awesome!), but is too long for a quick reference.
So, I decided to make my own reference guide!
The guide below is organized by task, with an emphasis on basic tasks and common command line arguments. It begins with the workflow for cloning, updating, and syncing with a remote repo because that's a common way to get started with Git and GitHub.
Note that this is only a reference guide, and will not teach you Git. It does not explain the difference between staged and committed, what to do with a .gitignore file, or when to create a branch. But if you are already familiar with those concepts, this guide will hopefully refresh your memory and help you to discover other commands you might need.
Cloning a remote repo (that you created or forked on GitHub)
- git clone < your-repo-URL >: copies your remote repo to your local machine (in a subdirectory with the repo's name), and automatically creates an "origin" handle
- git remote add upstream < forked-repo-URL >: adds an "upstream" handle for the repo you forked
- git remote -v: shows the handles for your remotes
- git remote show < handlename >: inspect a remote in detail
Tracking, committing, and pushing your changes
- git add < name >: if untracked, start tracking a file or directory; if tracked and modified, stage it for committing
- git reset HEAD < name >: unstage a changed file
- git commit -m "message": commits everything that has been staged with a message
- -a -m "message": automatically stages any modified files, then commits
- --amend -m "new message": fixes the message from the last commit
- git push origin master: pushes your commits to the master branch of the origin
Syncing your local repo with the upstream repo
- git fetch upstream: fetch the upstream and store its master branch in "upstream/master"
- git merge upstream/master: merge that branch into the working branch
Viewing the status of your files
- git status: check which files have been modified and/or staged since the last commit
- git diff: shows the diff for files that are modified but not staged
- --staged: shows the diff for files that are staged but not committed
Viewing the commit history
- git log: shows the detailed commit history
- -1: only shows the last 1 commit
- -p: shows the line diff for each commit
- -p --word-diff: shows the word diff for each commit
- --stat: shows stats instead of diff details
- --name-status: shows a simpler version of stat
- --oneline: just shows commit comments
- gitk: open a visual commit browser
- git branch: shows a list of local branches
- < branchname >: create a new branch with that name
- -d < branchname >: delete a branch
- -v: show the last commit on each local branch
- -a: show local and remote branches
- -va: show the last commit on each local and remote branch
- --merged: list which branches are already merged into the working branch (safe to delete)
- --no-merged: list which branches are not merged into the working branch
- git checkout < branchname >: switch the HEAD pointer to a different branch
- -b < branchname >: create a new branch and switch to it
Removing, deleting, and reverting files
- git rm < name >: deletes that file from the disk, then stages its deletion
- --cached < name >: stops tracking a file, then stages its deletion (but does not delete it from the disk)
- git mv < oldname > < newname >: renames the file on disk, then stages the deletion of the old name and addition of the new name
- git checkout -- < name >: revert a modified file on disk back to the last committed version
Other basic commands
- git init: initialize Git in an existing directory
- git config --list: shows your Git configuration
- touch .gitignore: create an empty .gitignore file
Let me know your thoughts or questions in the comments!