man pages section 1: User Commands

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Updated: July 2014

git-branch (1)


git-branch - List, create, or delete branches


git branch [--color[=<when>] | --no-color] [-r | -a]
[--list] [-v [--abbrev=<length> | --no-abbrev]]
[(--merged | --no-merged | --contains) [<commit>]] [<pattern>...]
git branch [--set-upstream | --track | --no-track] [-l] [-f] <branchname> [<start-point>]
git branch (-m | -M) [<oldbranch>] <newbranch>
git branch (-d | -D) [-r] <branchname>...
git branch --edit-description [<branchname>]


Git Manual                                          GIT-BRANCH(1)

     git-branch - List, create, or delete branches

     git branch [--color[=<when>] | --no-color] [-r | -a]
             [--list] [-v [--abbrev=<length> | --no-abbrev]]
             [(--merged | --no-merged | --contains) [<commit>]] [<pattern>...]
     git branch [--set-upstream | --track | --no-track] [-l] [-f] <branchname> [<start-point>]
     git branch (-m | -M) [<oldbranch>] <newbranch>
     git branch (-d | -D) [-r] <branchname>...
     git branch --edit-description [<branchname>]

     With no arguments, existing branches are listed and the
     current branch will be highlighted with an asterisk. Option
     -r causes the remote-tracking branches to be listed, and
     option -a shows both. This list mode is also activated by
     the --list option (see below). <pattern> restricts the
     output to matching branches, the pattern is a shell wildcard
     (i.e., matched using fnmatch(3)) Multiple patterns may be
     given; if any of them matches, the tag is shown.

     With --contains, shows only the branches that contain the
     named commit (in other words, the branches whose tip commits
     are descendants of the named commit). With --merged, only
     branches merged into the named commit (i.e. the branches
     whose tip commits are reachable from the named commit) will
     be listed. With --no-merged only branches not merged into
     the named commit will be listed. If the <commit> argument is
     missing it defaults to HEAD (i.e. the tip of the current

     The command's second form creates a new branch head named
     <branchname> which points to the current HEAD, or
     <start-point> if given.

     Note that this will create the new branch, but it will not
     switch the working tree to it; use "git checkout
     <newbranch>" to switch to the new branch.

     When a local branch is started off a remote-tracking branch,
     git sets up the branch so that git pull will appropriately
     merge from the remote-tracking branch. This behavior may be
     changed via the global branch.autosetupmerge configuration
     flag. That setting can be overridden by using the --track
     and --no-track options, and changed later using git branch

     With a -m or -M option, <oldbranch> will be renamed to
     <newbranch>. If <oldbranch> had a corresponding reflog, it
     is renamed to match <newbranch>, and a reflog entry is

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Git Manual                                          GIT-BRANCH(1)

     created to remember the branch renaming. If <newbranch>
     exists, -M must be used to force the rename to happen.

     With a -d or -D option, <branchname> will be deleted. You
     may specify more than one branch for deletion. If the branch
     currently has a reflog then the reflog will also be deleted.

     Use -r together with -d to delete remote-tracking branches.
     Note, that it only makes sense to delete remote-tracking
     branches if they no longer exist in the remote repository or
     if git fetch was configured not to fetch them again. See
     also the prune subcommand of git-remote(1) for a way to
     clean up all obsolete remote-tracking branches.

     -d, --delete
         Delete a branch. The branch must be fully merged in its
         upstream branch, or in HEAD if no upstream was set with
         --track or --set-upstream.

         Delete a branch irrespective of its merged status.

     -l, --create-reflog
         Create the branch's reflog. This activates recording of
         all changes made to the branch ref, enabling use of date
         based sha1 expressions such as
         "<branchname>@{yesterday}". Note that in non-bare
         repositories, reflogs are usually enabled by default by
         the core.logallrefupdates config option.

     -f, --force
         Reset <branchname> to <startpoint> if <branchname>
         exists already. Without -f git branch refuses to change
         an existing branch.

     -m, --move
         Move/rename a branch and the corresponding reflog.

         Move/rename a branch even if the new branch name already

         Color branches to highlight current, local, and
         remote-tracking branches. The value must be always (the
         default), never, or auto.

         Turn off branch colors, even when the configuration file
         gives the default to color output. Same as

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Git Manual                                          GIT-BRANCH(1)

     -r, --remotes
         List or delete (if used with -d) the remote-tracking

     -a, --all
         List both remote-tracking branches and local branches.

         Activate the list mode.  git branch <pattern> would try
         to create a branch, use git branch --list <pattern> to
         list matching branches.

     -v, --verbose
         When in list mode, show sha1 and commit subject line for
         each head, along with relationship to upstream branch
         (if any). If given twice, print the name of the upstream
         branch, as well.

         Alter the sha1's minimum display length in the output
         listing. The default value is 7 and can be overridden by
         the core.abbrev config option.

         Display the full sha1s in the output listing rather than
         abbreviating them.

     -t, --track
         When creating a new branch, set up configuration to mark
         the start-point branch as "upstream" from the new
         branch. This configuration will tell git to show the
         relationship between the two branches in git status and
         git branch -v. Furthermore, it directs git pull without
         arguments to pull from the upstream when the new branch
         is checked out.

         This behavior is the default when the start point is a
         remote-tracking branch. Set the branch.autosetupmerge
         configuration variable to false if you want git checkout
         and git branch to always behave as if --no-track were
         given. Set it to always if you want this behavior when
         the start-point is either a local or remote-tracking

         Do not set up "upstream" configuration, even if the
         branch.autosetupmerge configuration variable is true.

         If specified branch does not exist yet or if --force has
         been given, acts exactly like --track. Otherwise sets up
         configuration like --track would when creating the

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Git Manual                                          GIT-BRANCH(1)

         branch, except that where branch points to is not

         Open an editor and edit the text to explain what the
         branch is for, to be used by various other commands
         (e.g.  request-pull).

     --contains <commit>
         Only list branches which contain the specified commit.

     --merged [<commit>]
         Only list branches whose tips are reachable from the
         specified commit (HEAD if not specified).

     --no-merged [<commit>]
         Only list branches whose tips are not reachable from the
         specified commit (HEAD if not specified).

         The name of the branch to create or delete. The new
         branch name must pass all checks defined by git-check-
         ref-format(1). Some of these checks may restrict the
         characters allowed in a branch name.

         The new branch head will point to this commit. It may be
         given as a branch name, a commit-id, or a tag. If this
         option is omitted, the current HEAD will be used

         The name of an existing branch to rename.

         The new name for an existing branch. The same
         restrictions as for <branchname> apply.

     Start development from a known tag

             $ git clone git:// my2.6
             $ cd my2.6
             $ git branch my2.6.14 v2.6.14   (1)
             $ git checkout my2.6.14

         1. This step and the next one could be combined into a
         single step with "checkout -b my2.6.14 v2.6.14".

     Delete an unneeded branch

             $ git clone git:// my.git

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Git Manual                                          GIT-BRANCH(1)

             $ cd my.git
             $ git branch -d -r origin/todo origin/html origin/man   (1)
             $ git branch -D test                                    (2)

         1. Delete the remote-tracking branches "todo", "html"
         and "man". The next fetch or pull will create them again
         unless you configure them not to. See git-fetch(1).
         2. Delete the "test" branch even if the "master" branch
         (or whichever branch is currently checked out) does not
         have all commits from the test branch.

     See attributes(5) for descriptions of the following

     |Availability   | developer/versioning/git |
     |Stability      | Uncommitted              |
     If you are creating a branch that you want to checkout
     immediately, it is easier to use the git checkout command
     with its -b option to create a branch and check it out with
     a single command.

     The options --contains, --merged and --no-merged serve three
     related but different purposes:

     o    --contains <commit> is used to find all branches which
         will need special attention if <commit> were to be
         rebased or amended, since those branches contain the
         specified <commit>.

     o    --merged is used to find all branches which can be
         safely deleted, since those branches are fully contained
         by HEAD.

     o    --no-merged is used to find branches which are
         candidates for merging into HEAD, since those branches
         are not fully contained by HEAD.

     git-check-ref-format(1), git-fetch(1), git-remote(1),
     "Understanding history: What is a branch?"[1] in the Git
     User's Manual.

     Part of the git(1) suite

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Git Manual                                          GIT-BRANCH(1)

      1. "Understanding history: What is a branch?"

     This software was built from source available at  The original
     community source was downloaded from  http://git-

     Further information about this software can be found on the
     open source community website at

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