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Git The Simple Guide

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git – the simple guide Because I always forget git commands… source here: git – the simple guide (it’s better)

just a simple guide for getting started with git. no deep shit.


  • Download git for OSX
  • Download git for Windows
  • Download git for Linux

Create a new repository

create a new directory, open it and perform a

git init

to create a new git repository.

Checkout a repository

create a working copy of a local repository by running the command

git clone /path/to/repository

when using a remote server, your command will be

git clone username@host:/path/to/repository


your local repository consists of three “trees” maintained by git. the first one is your Working Directory which holds the actual files. the second one is the Index which acts as a staging area and finally the HEAD which points to the last commit you’ve made.

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Add & commit

You can propose changes (add it to the Index) using

git add
git add *

This is the first step in the basic git workflow. To actually commit these changes use

git commit -m "Commit message"

Now the file is committed to the HEAD, but not in your remote repository yet.

Pushing changes

Your changes are now in the HEAD of your local working copy. To send those changes to your remote repository, execute

git push origin master

Change master to whatever branch you want to push your changes to.

If you have not cloned an existing repository and want to connect your repository to a remote server, you need to add it with

git remote add origin

Now you are able to push your changes to the selected remote server


Branches are used to develop features isolated from each other. The master branch is the “default” branch when you create a repository. Use other branches for development and merge them back to the master branch upon completion. create a new branch named “feature_x” and switch to it using

git checkout -b feature_x

switch back to master

git checkout master

and delete the branch again

git branch -d feature_x

a branch is not available to others unless you push the branch to your remote repository

git push origin

Update & merge

to update your local repository to the newest commit, execute

git pull

in your working directory to fetch and merge remote changes. to merge another branch into your active branch (e.g. master), use

git merge

in both cases git tries to auto-merge changes. Unfortunately, this is not always possible and results in conflicts. You are responsible to merge those conflicts manually by editing the files shown by git. After changing, you need to mark them as merged with

git add

before merging changes, you can also preview them by using

git diff


it’s recommended to create tags for software releases. this is a known concept, which also exists in SVN. You can create a new tag named 1.0.0 by executing

git tag 1.0.0 1b2e1d63ff

the 1b2e1d63ff stands for the first 10 characters of the commit id you want to reference with your tag. You can get the commit id by looking at the…


in its simplest form, you can study repository history using..

git log

You can add a lot of parameters to make the log look like what you want. To see only the commits of a certain author:

git log --author=bob

To see a very compressed log where each commit is one line:

git log --pretty=oneline

Or maybe you want to see an ASCII art tree of all the branches, decorated with the names of tags and branches:

git log --graph --oneline --decorate --all

See only which files have changed:

git log --name-status

These are just a few of the possible parameters you can use.

For more, see git log --help

Replace local changes

In case you did something wrong, which for sure never happens, you can replace local changes using the command

git checkout --

this replaces the changes in your working tree with the last content in HEAD. Changes already added to the index, as well as new files, will be kept.

If you instead want to drop all your local changes and commits, fetch the latest history from the server and point your local master branch at it like this

git fetch origin
git reset --hard origin/master

Useful hints

built-in git GUI


use colorful git output

git config color.ui true

show log on just one line per commit

git config format.pretty oneline

use interactive adding

git add -i

graphical clients

  • GitX (L) (OSX, open source)
  • Tower (OSX)
  • Source Tree (OSX & Windows, free)
  • GitHub for Mac (OSX, free)
  • GitBox (OSX, App Store)


  • Git Community Book
  • Pro Git
  • Think like a git
  • GitHub Help
  • A Visual Git Guide

get help

  • Git User Mailing List
  • #git on


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Hi, I'm Damien

Software Developer

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Founder of this blog, love Java and Open Source stuff. Follow him on Twitter.