After completing this page, you will be able to:
- Use git to
commitchanged files to version control.
- Use git to
pushchanged files from your local computer to the repository on Github.com.
- Use git to
pullchanged file from your repo to your local computer.
Git and GitHub Workflow For Version Control
Previously, you learned how to
fork GitHub repositories to make copies of other users’ repositories, and you also learned how to download copies of (i.e.
clone) GitHub repositories to your computer. On this page, you will learn to use git to implement the three important steps of version control:
git addchanged files to version control tracking.
git committhe changed files to create a unique snapshot of the local repository.
git pushthose changed files from the local copy of a repository to the cloud (GitHub.com).
You will also setup your git credentials locally.
Check the Status of Changes Using Git Status
Once you start working, you can use the
git status command to check what changes are being identified by git. To practice working with this command, use the terminal to navigate to your git practice repository:
$ cd practice-git-skillz
$ git status On branch main Your branch is up to date with 'origin/main'. nothing to commit, working tree clean
Notice that when you run
git status it returns: working tree clean. This means that there are no changes to any files in your repo - YET.
Next, open and make a small change to the
README.md file in a text editor. Then, run the command
git status to check that changes have been made to your file(s).
git status On branch main Your branch is up-to-date with 'origin/main'. Changes not staged for commit: (use "git add <file>..." to update what will be committed) (use "git checkout -- <file>..." to discard changes in working directory) modified: README.md no changes added to commit (use "git add" and/or "git commit -a")
The output from the
git status command above indicates that you have modified a file (e.g.
README.md) that can be added to version control.
Adding and Committing File Changes To Version Control
To keep track of changes to this file using git, you need to:
git addthe changes to tracking (or staging area), and then
git committhe changes to version control.
These two commands make up the bulk of many workflows that use git for version control:
git add: takes a modified file in your working directory and places the modified version in a staging area for review.
git commit: takes everything from the staging area and makes a permanent snapshot of the current state of your repository that has a unique identifier.
Add Changed Files Using git add
After making changes, you can add either an individual file or groups of files to version control tracking. To add a single file, run the command:
git add file-name.extension
For example, to add the
README.md file, you would use:
git add README.md
You can also add all of the files that you have edited at the same time using:
git add .
Data Tip use
git add . with caution. Be sure to review the results from
git status carefully before using
git add .. You do not want to accidentally add files to version control that you do not want to change in your GitHub repository!
Commit Changed Files Using git commit
Once you are ready to make a snapshot of the current state of your repository (i.e. move changes from staging area), you can run
git commit. The
git commit command requires a commit message that describes the snapshot (i.e. changes) that you made in that commit.
A commit message should outline what changed and why. These messages:
- help collaborators and your future self understand what was changed and why.
- allow you and your collaborators to find (and undo if necessary) changes that were previously made.
When you are not committing a lot of changes, you can create a short one line commit message using the -m flag as follows:
git commit -m "Update title and author name in homework for week 3"
Each commit is provided a unique identifier (SHA-1 hash) and includes all changes to files in the staging area when the commit was created (i.e. all files that had been added to staging using
Push Changed Files to GitHub.com
So far you have only modified your local copy of the repository and completed a local commit to the repository. To update the files on GitHub.com, you need to
push the changed files to the repository on GitHub.com.
You can push your changes to GitHub using the command:
git push origin main
Depending on your settings, you may then be prompted for your Github.com username and password. After you have pushed your commits to GitHub.com, visit your repository (e.g.
https://github.com/username/repository-name) and notice that your changes are reflected there.
Also notice that you have access to the full commit history for your repository.
Pull Changed Files from GitHub.com to Your Cloned Repo
Above, you learned how to use
git clone to create a copy of a repo on github.com on your local computer. Running
git clone will make a full copy of the git repo from github.com to your local computer. It includes all of the .git history information that you will need to track changes in your repo. You only need to run git clone once. After you have run git clone, you can us
git pull to upate your repo.
You also learned how to add and commit changes using
git add and
The workflow above assumed that you are always making changes locally and then pushing those changes back up to GitHub.com. Sometimes, however, you will need to pull down changes that were made to your repo, locally.
Some examples of when you may need to use
git pull include:
- When you may want to use git pull is to retrieve the feedback
.htmlfile added to your GitHub repo by your instructor
- When you are working collaboratively (covered in the next chapter) and someone else modifies some of the code in your repo using a
To update your repo with changes that are on GitHub.com you can do the following:
- Open up bash and
cdto the location of your git repo.
- Once you are in the repo, run
In the example below, there are no changes to any files.
git pull returns
Already up to date.
$ cd practice-git-skillz/ $ git pull Already up to date.
Below is an example of using
git pull when there are changes on github.com to pull down. Notice that it gives you a summary of what files were changed (in the example below this is the README.md file) and how many changes were made.
$ cd practice-git-skillz/ $ git pull remote: Enumerating objects: 5, done. remote: Counting objects: 100% (5/5), done. remote: Compressing objects: 100% (3/3), done. remote: Total 3 (delta 2), reused 0 (delta 0), pack-reused 0 Unpacking objects: 100% (3/3), done. From github.com:earthlab-education/practice-git-skillz 7d45e2c..675d82e main -> origin/main Updating 7d45e2c..675d82e Fast-forward README.md | 2 +- 1 file changed, 1 insertion(+), 1 deletion(-)
All of the changes that were made to your repo, will be pulled down to your local repo.
View All Commits to Repository Using
You can also see a list of all commits to a repository (even those that have yet not been pushed to GitHub.com!) when working locally with the repository on your computer.
To see a list of all commits, you can run the command:
Which returns something like the following:
commit 6575476476hdjig946jksg95jywkg034mk6gkro6 Author: eastudent <email@example.com> Date: Mon Aug 5 15:30:54 2019 -0600 Update title and author name in homework for week 3
git log provides a lot of useful information about the commit, including the unique identifier assigned to that snapshot, the message description provided during the commit (i.e. the message after
-m) as well as the date, time, and author of the commit.
git log by default returns a lot of information. You can view the log as single line entries with just the commit message using
git log --pretty=oneline.
git log -- pretty=oneline | head -n 10 will show you the most recent 10 entries. IMPORTANT: when the log results appear in bash, you can use the space bar to scroll through the results. If you want to return to the command prompt, hit the
q key (q for quit). Try it out!
Tell Git to Ignore Files Using a .gitignore file
Sometimes there are files in your git repo that you do not want to be tracked. If you are on a MAC these may be hidden files such as
- _DS_STORE or
- .ipynb checkpoint files.
Other times you have sensitive files in a repository that you never want to track with git such as API credentials or other files containing personal information. You can add any file types or names to a
.gitignore file. git will then not track them. This means that when you run
git add or
git status, it will not track any files listed in the
.gitignore file. These files will thus never be added to GitHub.com.
Let’s pretend that you have a file called
social-security.txt that contains sensitive information. You can add that file to a .gitignore file. If the .gitignore file is not already present in the repository, you can create it manually using a text, or using the following
# Comment in bash # Create a .gitignore file if one doesn't already exist touch .gitignore
Data Tip Above, the bash command
touch is used to create a new .gitignore file (this is only useful if the file does not already exist.
.gitignore file in a text editor and add the file names (with no other information needed) that you want git to ignore, for example:
Any files listed in the
.gitignore file will be ignored by git. You can also tell git to ignore directories by adding the directory name to the
gitignore file (e.g. ignore a directory called
Data tip: Learn more about using .gitignore files to ignore files and directories in your git repository on the Software Carpentry Git Lessons.
Challenge - Create a New Text File In Your Repo
It’s time to practice your git skills! Do the following:
- If you haven’t already, fork the
- Next, clone your fork of that repo using
- Open up the
README.mdfile and make some changes to the text
git committo add and commit those changes
- Finally push the changes up to github.com using
Now, go to the url where the repo is on Github.com - the path to the repo likely looks something like the path below:
your-github-username with your real github username!)
Do you see your changes to the