June 3, 2018

Git - Shortcuts & Bash Tips

The Git version control system is a complex beast, especially when used in the command-line with its myriad of tools and switches.

Over time and with experience most users will settle on their preferred set of commands, shortcuts and helpers. This post contains my curated set of Git tips and shortcuts (aka git aliases).

Note, many, maybe even most, of these suggestions have been gleamed from the interwebs over the years. I do not claim authorship on anything noted here.

The full set of Git aliases I use are listed in my gitconfig.

Lastly, this post assumes a basic knowledge of Git in the command-line. If you are a Git-inside-editor person then this is not the post you are looking for.

g alias for Bash

The git command is three letters long. I am extremely lazy, I only want to type one letter, g, to invoke Git because I do it so often.

Add the following to your ~/.bashrc.

alias g=git

If using bash-completion, please also add.

complete -o default -o nospace -F _git g

UPDATE (JAN 2019): Stealing an idea from the thoughbot dotfiles. Instead of simply aliasing g to git, as noted above, make it a smart alias:

alias g='_f() { if [[ $# == 0 ]]; then git status --short --branch; else git "$@"; fi }; _f'

When invoked without arguments g will do a short Git status, otherwise it will just pass on the given arguments to the git command. Status is likely to be the Git command one will execute the most, hence this simple enhancement does prove very useful in practice.

Bash completion

If you are a Bash user and are not using bash-completion, then I strongly suggest you setup it up. Please refer to my Bash Shell Tweaks & Tips post for details.

Once enabled, you will be able to use TAB-completion for most Git commands and related paths. This will be a large time-saver.

Git branch details in Bash prompt

Once bash-completion has been enabled, I also suggest adding Git branch information to your prompt.

As a starting point, add the following to your ~/.bashrc:

if [[ -f /usr/local/etc/bash_completion.d/git-prompt.sh ]]; then
    local GIT_PROMPT_PATH="/usr/local/etc/bash_completion.d/git-prompt.sh"
elif [[ -f /etc/bash_completion.d/git-prompt ]]; then
    local GIT_PROMPT_PATH="/etc/bash_completion.d/git-prompt"
    local GIT_PROMPT_PATH="/usr/share/git-core/contrib/completion/git-prompt.sh"
PS1="\h\$(__git_ps1) \w > "

Note, this is a rudimentary prompt configuration, usually you will want to spruce it up.

For example, one can install and use a Bash prompt script, such as seafly or bash-git-prompt, which will emit Git details with visual flair.

Nicer diffs with diff-so-fancy

The diff-so-fancy utility replaces Git’s default machine-readable diff output with one that is more human readable.

Installation is most easily accomplished via Homebrew on macOS and Linuxbrew on Linux.

brew install diff-so-fancy

Now enable diff-so-fancy.

git config --global core.pager 'diff-so-fancy | less --tabs=4 -RFX'

General aliases

Note, some of these suggestions are enabled by default with modern versions of Git, but I still like to explicitly enable them just in-case I inadvertently use an old version of Git.

Only push the current branch, not multiple branches.

git config --global push.default simple

Automatically convert stray DOS format text files back to Unix format when committing from Unix-style hosts.

git config --global core.autocrlf input

Enable colorization.

git config --global color.ui auto

Use nicer histogram diff’ing.

git config --global diff.algorithm histogram

Shut up command-line commit warning message if using a command-line editor such as Vim.

git config --global advice.waitingForEditor false

Diff aliases

git config --global alias.di 'difftool'
git config --global alias.dis 'difftool --staged'


g di  # List unstaged differences
g dis # List staged differences

Status alias

git config --global alias.st 'status --short --branch'


g st # Working tree status in compact notation

Stage alias

Interactively stage changes on a per-chunk basis, including new files.

git config --global alias.sg '!git add . -N && git add -p'


g sg # Individually stage changes in the current branch

Unadd alias

git config --global alias.unadd 'reset HEAD'


g unadd <file> # Unstage a file

Commit aliases

git config --global alias.ci 'commit'
git config --global alias.unci 'reset --soft HEAD~1'
git config --global alias.oops 'commit --amend'


g ci   # Commit staged changes
g unci # Undo the last commit. Note, do NOT do this for pushed commits.
g oops # Modify the most recent commit. Note, do NOT do this for pushed commits.

Branch aliases

git config --global alias.bb 'branch -vv'
git config --global alias.bd 'branch -d'


g bb          # List all branches
g bd <branch> # Delete specified branch

Check-out aliases

git config --global alias.co 'checkout'
git config --global alias.cob 'checkout -b'


g co <path-or-branch> # Check-out a particular path or branch
g cob <branch>        # Create a new branch and immediately check-out into it

Log aliases

git config --global alias.ll 'log --graph --format="%C(yellow)%h%C(red)%d%C(reset) - %C(bold green)(%ar)%C(reset) %s %C(blue)<%an>%C(reset)"'
git config --global alias.llm '!git ll master..HEAD'
git config --global alias.llu '!git ll @{upstream}..HEAD'
git config --global alias.lld '!git ll HEAD..@{upstream}'


g ll  # List commits in a compact colorful format
g llm # List commits that exist in current branch but not in master
g llu # List commits in current branch that are ready to be pushed up
g lld # List commits in the remote tracking branch that a ready to be pulled down

Merge aliases

git config --global alias.mg 'merge'
git config --global alias.mgs 'merge --squash'
git config --global alias.unmg reset --merge ORIG_HEAD'


g mg <branch>  # Merge branch
g mgs <branch> # Squash merge the commits of the specified branch
g unmg         # Undo the last merge. Note, do NOT do this for pushed merges.

Remote aliases

git config --global alias.rr 'remote -v'
git config --global alias.rso 'remote show origin'
git config --global alias.rsu 'remote show upstream'


g rr  # Show remotes
g rso # Show state of local and remote tracking branches
g rsu # Show state of local and remote upstream branches

Stash aliases

git config --global alias.sa '!sh -c "git stash apply stash@{$1}" -'
git config --global alias.sd '!sh -c "git stash drop stash@{$1}" -'
git config --global alias.sl 'stash list'
git config --global alias.ss 'stash save --include-untracked'
git config --global alias.ssp '!sh -c 'git stash show -p stash@{$1}' -'


g sl        # List current stashes
g ss        # Save current changes with auto-generated name
g ss <name> # Save current changes with specified name
g sa 0      # Apply specified stash, use 'g sl' to list stash numbers
g sd 0      # Delete specified stash, use 'g sl' to list stash numbers
g ssp 0     # Show the changes of the specified stash in diff preview format

Fuzzy-finding command-line Git browser

The fzf utility is an excellent command-line fuzzy finder. With just a small of amount of scripting it is easy to create a command-line fuzzy-finding Git log browser with commit previews.

First install fzf. If using Homebrew or Linuxbrew.

brew install fzf

For other platforms.

git clone --depth 1 https://github.com/junegunn/fzf.git ~/.fzf

Now add the following Git browser tooling to your ~/.bashrc file.

alias gll='fzf_git_log'

fzf_git_log() {
    local commits=$(
      git ll --color=always "$@" |
        fzf --ansi --no-sort --height 100% \
            --preview "echo {} | grep -o '[a-f0-9]\{7\}' | head -1 |
                       xargs -I@ sh -c 'git show --color=always @'"
    if [[ -n $commits ]]; then
        local hashes=$(printf "$commits" | cut -d' ' -f2 | tr '\n' ' ')
        git show $hashes

Type gll in a Git repository. This will display a compact log list that can be narrowed down by entering in fuzzy text at the prompt. Also, one can navigate up and down the commit list to preview the differences of each commit. Github-style browsing in the command-line, almost.

Refer to fuzzy finding in Bash with fzf for more such Git examples.


Some suggestions in the post originated from the following: