man pages section 1: User Commands

Exit Print View

Updated: July 2014

git-diff-files (1)


git-diff-files - Compares files in the working tree and the index


git diff-files [-q] [-0|-1|-2|-3|-c|--cc] [<common diff options>] [<path>...]


Git Manual                                      GIT-DIFF-FILES(1)

     git-diff-files - Compares files in the working tree and the

     git diff-files [-q] [-0|-1|-2|-3|-c|--cc] [<common diff options>] [<path>...]

     Compares the files in the working tree and the index. When
     paths are specified, compares only those named paths.
     Otherwise all entries in the index are compared. The output
     format is the same as for git diff-index and git diff-tree.

     -p, -u, --patch
         Generate patch (see section on generating patches).

     -U<n>, --unified=<n>
         Generate diffs with <n> lines of context instead of the
         usual three. Implies -p.

         Generate the raw format. This is the default.

         Synonym for -p --raw.

         Spend extra time to make sure the smallest possible diff
         is produced.

         Generate a diff using the "patience diff" algorithm.

         Generate a diffstat. You can override the default output
         width for 80-column terminal by --stat=<width>. The
         width of the filename part can be controlled by giving
         another width to it separated by a comma. By giving a
         third parameter <count>, you can limit the output to the
         first <count> lines, followed by ...  if there are more.

         These parameters can also be set individually with
         --stat-width=<width>, --stat-name-width=<name-width> and

         Similar to --stat, but shows number of added and deleted
         lines in decimal notation and pathname without
         abbreviation, to make it more machine friendly. For
         binary files, outputs two - instead of saying 0 0.

Git          Last change: 02/22/2012                    1

Git Manual                                      GIT-DIFF-FILES(1)

         Output only the last line of the --stat format
         containing total number of modified files, as well as
         number of added and deleted lines.

         Output the distribution of relative amount of changes
         for each sub-directory. The behavior of --dirstat can be
         customized by passing it a comma separated list of
         parameters. The defaults are controlled by the
         diff.dirstat configuration variable (see git-config(1)).
         The following parameters are available:

             Compute the dirstat numbers by counting the lines
             that have been removed from the source, or added to
             the destination. This ignores the amount of pure
             code movements within a file. In other words,
             rearranging lines in a file is not counted as much
             as other changes. This is the default behavior when
             no parameter is given.

             Compute the dirstat numbers by doing the regular
             line-based diff analysis, and summing the
             removed/added line counts. (For binary files, count
             64-byte chunks instead, since binary files have no
             natural concept of lines). This is a more expensive
             --dirstat behavior than the changes behavior, but it
             does count rearranged lines within a file as much as
             other changes. The resulting output is consistent
             with what you get from the other --*stat options.

             Compute the dirstat numbers by counting the number
             of files changed. Each changed file counts equally
             in the dirstat analysis. This is the computationally
             cheapest --dirstat behavior, since it does not have
             to look at the file contents at all.

             Count changes in a child directory for the parent
             directory as well. Note that when using cumulative,
             the sum of the percentages reported may exceed 100%.
             The default (non-cumulative) behavior can be
             specified with the noncumulative parameter.

             An integer parameter specifies a cut-off percent (3%
             by default). Directories contributing less than this
             percentage of the changes are not shown in the

Git          Last change: 02/22/2012                    2

Git Manual                                      GIT-DIFF-FILES(1)

         Example: The following will count changed files, while
         ignoring directories with less than 10% of the total
         amount of changed files, and accumulating child
         directory counts in the parent directories:

         Output a condensed summary of extended header
         information such as creations, renames and mode changes.

         Synonym for -p --stat.

         When --raw, --numstat, --name-only or --name-status has
         been given, do not munge pathnames and use NULs as
         output field terminators.

         Without this option, each pathname output will have TAB,
         LF, double quotes, and backslash characters replaced
         with \t, \n, \", and \\, respectively, and the pathname
         will be enclosed in double quotes if any of those
         replacements occurred.

         Show only names of changed files.

         Show only names and status of changed files. See the
         description of the --diff-filter option on what the
         status letters mean.

         Chose the output format for submodule differences.
         <format> can be one of short and log.  short just shows
         pairs of commit names, this format is used when this
         option is not given.  log is the default value for this
         option and lists the commits in that commit range like
         the summary option of git-submodule(1) does.

         Show colored diff. The value must be always (the default
         for <when>), never, or auto. The default value is never.

         Turn off colored diff. It is the same as --color=never.

         Show a word diff, using the <mode> to delimit changed
         words. By default, words are delimited by whitespace;
         see --word-diff-regex below. The <mode> defaults to
         plain, and must be one of:

Git          Last change: 02/22/2012                    3

Git Manual                                      GIT-DIFF-FILES(1)

             Highlight changed words using only colors. Implies

             Show words as [-removed-] and {added}. Makes no
             attempts to escape the delimiters if they appear in
             the input, so the output may be ambiguous.

             Use a special line-based format intended for script
             consumption. Added/removed/unchanged runs are
             printed in the usual unified diff format, starting
             with a +/-/` ` character at the beginning of the
             line and extending to the end of the line. Newlines
             in the input are represented by a tilde ~ on a line
             of its own.

             Disable word diff again.

         Note that despite the name of the first mode, color is
         used to highlight the changed parts in all modes if

         Use <regex> to decide what a word is, instead of
         considering runs of non-whitespace to be a word. Also
         implies --word-diff unless it was already enabled.

         Every non-overlapping match of the <regex> is considered
         a word. Anything between these matches is considered
         whitespace and ignored(!) for the purposes of finding
         differences. You may want to append |[^[:space:]] to
         your regular expression to make sure that it matches all
         non-whitespace characters. A match that contains a
         newline is silently truncated(!) at the newline.

         The regex can also be set via a diff driver or
         configuration option, see gitattributes(1) or git-
         config(1). Giving it explicitly overrides any diff
         driver or configuration setting. Diff drivers override
         configuration settings.

         Equivalent to --word-diff=color plus (if a regex was
         specified) --word-diff-regex=<regex>.

         Turn off rename detection, even when the configuration
         file gives the default to do so.

Git          Last change: 02/22/2012                    4

Git Manual                                      GIT-DIFF-FILES(1)

         Warn if changes introduce whitespace errors. What are
         considered whitespace errors is controlled by
         core.whitespace configuration. By default, trailing
         whitespaces (including lines that solely consist of
         whitespaces) and a space character that is immediately
         followed by a tab character inside the initial indent of
         the line are considered whitespace errors. Exits with
         non-zero status if problems are found. Not compatible
         with --exit-code.

         Instead of the first handful of characters, show the
         full pre- and post-image blob object names on the
         "index" line when generating patch format output.

         In addition to --full-index, output a binary diff that
         can be applied with git-apply.

         Instead of showing the full 40-byte hexadecimal object
         name in diff-raw format output and diff-tree header
         lines, show only a partial prefix. This is independent
         of the --full-index option above, which controls the
         diff-patch output format. Non default number of digits
         can be specified with --abbrev=<n>.

     -B[<n>][/<m>], --break-rewrites[=[<n>][/<m>]]
         Break complete rewrite changes into pairs of delete and
         create. This serves two purposes:

         It affects the way a change that amounts to a total
         rewrite of a file not as a series of deletion and
         insertion mixed together with a very few lines that
         happen to match textually as the context, but as a
         single deletion of everything old followed by a single
         insertion of everything new, and the number m controls
         this aspect of the -B option (defaults to 60%).  -B/70%
         specifies that less than 30% of the original should
         remain in the result for git to consider it a total
         rewrite (i.e. otherwise the resulting patch will be a
         series of deletion and insertion mixed together with
         context lines).

         When used with -M, a totally-rewritten file is also
         considered as the source of a rename (usually -M only
         considers a file that disappeared as the source of a
         rename), and the number n controls this aspect of the -B
         option (defaults to 50%).  -B20% specifies that a change
         with addition and deletion compared to 20% or more of
         the file's size are eligible for being picked up as a

Git          Last change: 02/22/2012                    5

Git Manual                                      GIT-DIFF-FILES(1)

         possible source of a rename to another file.

     -M[<n>], --find-renames[=<n>]
         Detect renames. If n is specified, it is a threshold on
         the similarity index (i.e. amount of addition/deletions
         compared to the file's size). For example, -M90% means
         git should consider a delete/add pair to be a rename if
         more than 90% of the file hasn't changed.

     -C[<n>], --find-copies[=<n>]
         Detect copies as well as renames. See also
         --find-copies-harder. If n is specified, it has the same
         meaning as for -M<n>.

         For performance reasons, by default, -C option finds
         copies only if the original file of the copy was
         modified in the same changeset. This flag makes the
         command inspect unmodified files as candidates for the
         source of copy. This is a very expensive operation for
         large projects, so use it with caution. Giving more than
         one -C option has the same effect.

     -D, --irreversible-delete
         Omit the preimage for deletes, i.e. print only the
         header but not the diff between the preimage and
         /dev/null. The resulting patch is not meant to be
         applied with patch nor git apply; this is solely for
         people who want to just concentrate on reviewing the
         text after the change. In addition, the output obviously
         lack enough information to apply such a patch in
         reverse, even manually, hence the name of the option.

         When used together with -B, omit also the preimage in
         the deletion part of a delete/create pair.

         The -M and -C options require O(n^2) processing time
         where n is the number of potential rename/copy targets.
         This option prevents rename/copy detection from running
         if the number of rename/copy targets exceeds the
         specified number.

         Select only files that are Added (A), Copied (C),
         Deleted (D), Modified (M), Renamed (R), have their type
         (i.e. regular file, symlink, submodule, ...) changed
         (T), are Unmerged (U), are Unknown (X), or have had
         their pairing Broken (B). Any combination of the filter
         characters (including none) can be used. When *
         (All-or-none) is added to the combination, all paths are
         selected if there is any file that matches other

Git          Last change: 02/22/2012                    6

Git Manual                                      GIT-DIFF-FILES(1)

         criteria in the comparison; if there is no file that
         matches other criteria, nothing is selected.

         Look for differences that introduce or remove an
         instance of <string>. Note that this is different than
         the string simply appearing in diff output; see the
         pickaxe entry in gitdiffcore(5) for more details.

         Look for differences whose added or removed line matches
         the given <regex>.

         When -S or -G finds a change, show all the changes in
         that changeset, not just the files that contain the
         change in <string>.

         Make the <string> not a plain string but an extended
         POSIX regex to match.

         Output the patch in the order specified in the
         <orderfile>, which has one shell glob pattern per line.

         Swap two inputs; that is, show differences from index or
         on-disk file to tree contents.

         When run from a subdirectory of the project, it can be
         told to exclude changes outside the directory and show
         pathnames relative to it with this option. When you are
         not in a subdirectory (e.g. in a bare repository), you
         can name which subdirectory to make the output relative
         to by giving a <path> as an argument.

     -a, --text
         Treat all files as text.

         Ignore changes in whitespace at EOL.

     -b, --ignore-space-change
         Ignore changes in amount of whitespace. This ignores
         whitespace at line end, and considers all other
         sequences of one or more whitespace characters to be

     -w, --ignore-all-space
         Ignore whitespace when comparing lines. This ignores

Git          Last change: 02/22/2012                    7

Git Manual                                      GIT-DIFF-FILES(1)

         differences even if one line has whitespace where the
         other line has none.

         Show the context between diff hunks, up to the specified
         number of lines, thereby fusing hunks that are close to
         each other.

     -W, --function-context
         Show whole surrounding functions of changes.

         Make the program exit with codes similar to diff(1).
         That is, it exits with 1 if there were differences and 0
         means no differences.

         Disable all output of the program. Implies --exit-code.

         Allow an external diff helper to be executed. If you set
         an external diff driver with gitattributes(4), you need
         to use this option with git-log(1) and friends.

         Disallow external diff drivers.

     --textconv, --no-textconv
         Allow (or disallow) external text conversion filters to
         be run when comparing binary files. See gitattributes(4)
         for details. Because textconv filters are typically a
         one-way conversion, the resulting diff is suitable for
         human consumption, but cannot be applied. For this
         reason, textconv filters are enabled by default only for
         git-diff(1) and git-log(1), but not for git-format-
         patch(1) or diff plumbing commands.

         Ignore changes to submodules in the diff generation.
         <when> can be either "none", "untracked", "dirty" or
         "all", which is the default Using "none" will consider
         the submodule modified when it either contains untracked
         or modified files or its HEAD differs from the commit
         recorded in the superproject and can be used to override
         any settings of the ignore option in git-config(1) or
         gitmodules(4). When "untracked" is used submodules are
         not considered dirty when they only contain untracked
         content (but they are still scanned for modified
         content). Using "dirty" ignores all changes to the work
         tree of submodules, only changes to the commits stored
         in the superproject are shown (this was the behavior
         until 1.7.0). Using "all" hides all changes to

Git          Last change: 02/22/2012                    8

Git Manual                                      GIT-DIFF-FILES(1)


         Show the given source prefix instead of "a/".

         Show the given destination prefix instead of "b/".

         Do not show any source or destination prefix.

     For more detailed explanation on these common options, see
     also gitdiffcore(5).

     -1 --base, -2 --ours, -3 --theirs, -0
         Diff against the "base" version, "our branch" or "their
         branch" respectively. With these options, diffs for
         merged entries are not shown.

         The default is to diff against our branch (-2) and the
         cleanly resolved paths. The option -0 can be given to
         omit diff output for unmerged entries and just show

     -c, --cc
         This compares stage 2 (our branch), stage 3 (their
         branch) and the working tree file and outputs a combined
         diff, similar to the way diff-tree shows a merge commit
         with these flags.

         Remain silent even on nonexistent files

     The raw output format from "git-diff-index",
     "git-diff-tree", "git-diff-files" and "git diff --raw" are
     very similar.

     These commands all compare two sets of things; what is
     compared differs:

     git-diff-index <tree-ish>
         compares the <tree-ish> and the files on the filesystem.

     git-diff-index --cached <tree-ish>
         compares the <tree-ish> and the index.

     git-diff-tree [-r] <tree-ish-1> <tree-ish-2> [<pattern>...]
         compares the trees named by the two arguments.

     git-diff-files [<pattern>...]
         compares the index and the files on the filesystem.

Git          Last change: 02/22/2012                    9

Git Manual                                      GIT-DIFF-FILES(1)

     The "git-diff-tree" command begins its output by printing
     the hash of what is being compared. After that, all the
     commands print one output line per changed file.

     An output line is formatted this way:

         in-place edit  :100644 100644 bcd1234... 0123456... M file0
         copy-edit      :100644 100644 abcd123... 1234567... C68 file1 file2
         rename-edit    :100644 100644 abcd123... 1234567... R86 file1 file3
         create         :000000 100644 0000000... 1234567... A file4
         delete         :100644 000000 1234567... 0000000... D file5
         unmerged       :000000 000000 0000000... 0000000... U file6

     That is, from the left to the right:

      1. a colon.

      2. mode for "src"; 000000 if creation or unmerged.

      3. a space.

      4. mode for "dst"; 000000 if deletion or unmerged.

      5. a space.

      6. sha1 for "src"; 0{40} if creation or unmerged.

      7. a space.

      8. sha1 for "dst"; 0{40} if creation, unmerged or "look at
         work tree".

      9. a space.

     10. status, followed by optional "score" number.

     11. a tab or a NUL when -z option is used.

     12. path for "src"

     13. a tab or a NUL when -z option is used; only exists for C
         or R.

     14. path for "dst"; only exists for C or R.

     15. an LF or a NUL when -z option is used, to terminate the

     Possible status letters are:

     o   A: addition of a file

Git          Last change: 02/22/2012                   10

Git Manual                                      GIT-DIFF-FILES(1)

     o   C: copy of a file into a new one

     o   D: deletion of a file

     o   M: modification of the contents or mode of a file

     o   R: renaming of a file

     o   T: change in the type of the file

     o   U: file is unmerged (you must complete the merge before
         it can be committed)

     o   X: "unknown" change type (most probably a bug, please
         report it)

     Status letters C and R are always followed by a score
     (denoting the percentage of similarity between the source
     and target of the move or copy), and are the only ones to be

     <sha1> is shown as all 0's if a file is new on the
     filesystem and it is out of sync with the index.


         :100644 100644 5be4a4...... 000000...... M file.c

     When -z option is not used, TAB, LF, and backslash
     characters in pathnames are represented as \t, \n, and \\,

     "git-diff-tree", "git-diff-files" and "git-diff --raw" can
     take -c or --cc option to generate diff output also for
     merge commits. The output differs from the format described
     above in the following way:

      1. there is a colon for each parent

      2. there are more "src" modes and "src" sha1

      3. status is concatenated status characters for each parent

      4. no optional "score" number

      5. single path, only for "dst"


         ::100644 100644 100644 fabadb8... cc95eb0... 4866510... MM      describe.c

Git          Last change: 02/22/2012                   11

Git Manual                                      GIT-DIFF-FILES(1)

     Note that combined diff lists only files which were modified
     from all parents.

     When "git-diff-index", "git-diff-tree", or "git-diff-files"
     are run with a -p option, "git diff" without the --raw
     option, or "git log" with the "-p" option, they do not
     produce the output described above; instead they produce a
     patch file. You can customize the creation of such patches
     via the GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF and the GIT_DIFF_OPTS environment

     What the -p option produces is slightly different from the
     traditional diff format:

      1. It is preceded with a "git diff" header that looks like

             diff --git a/file1 b/file2

         The a/ and b/ filenames are the same unless rename/copy
         is involved. Especially, even for a creation or a
         deletion, /dev/null is not used in place of the a/ or b/

         When rename/copy is involved, file1 and file2 show the
         name of the source file of the rename/copy and the name
         of the file that rename/copy produces, respectively.

      2. It is followed by one or more extended header lines:

             old mode <mode>
             new mode <mode>
             deleted file mode <mode>
             new file mode <mode>
             copy from <path>
             copy to <path>
             rename from <path>
             rename to <path>
             similarity index <number>
             dissimilarity index <number>
             index <hash>..<hash> <mode>

         File modes are printed as 6-digit octal numbers
         including the file type and file permission bits.

         Path names in extended headers do not include the a/ and
         b/ prefixes.

         The similarity index is the percentage of unchanged
         lines, and the dissimilarity index is the percentage of
         changed lines. It is a rounded down integer, followed by

Git          Last change: 02/22/2012                   12

Git Manual                                      GIT-DIFF-FILES(1)

         a percent sign. The similarity index value of 100% is
         thus reserved for two equal files, while 100%
         dissimilarity means that no line from the old file made
         it into the new one.

         The index line includes the SHA-1 checksum before and
         after the change. The <mode> is included if the file
         mode does not change; otherwise, separate lines indicate
         the old and the new mode.

      3. TAB, LF, double quote and backslash characters in
         pathnames are represented as \t, \n, \" and \\,
         respectively. If there is need for such substitution
         then the whole pathname is put in double quotes.

      4. All the file1 files in the output refer to files before
         the commit, and all the file2 files refer to files after
         the commit. It is incorrect to apply each change to each
         file sequentially. For example, this patch will swap a
         and b:

             diff --git a/a b/b
             rename from a
             rename to b
             diff --git a/b b/a
             rename from b
             rename to a

     Any diff-generating command can take the `-c` or --cc option
     to produce a combined diff when showing a merge. This is the
     default format when showing merges with git-diff(1) or git-
     show(1). Note also that you can give the `-m' option to any
     of these commands to force generation of diffs with
     individual parents of a merge.

     A combined diff format looks like this:

         diff --combined describe.c
         index fabadb8,cc95eb0..4866510
         --- a/describe.c
         +++ b/describe.c
         @@@ -98,20 -98,12 +98,20 @@@
                 return (a_date > b_date) ? -1 : (a_date == b_date) ? 0 : 1;

         - static void describe(char *arg)
          -static void describe(struct commit *cmit, int last_one)
         ++static void describe(char *arg, int last_one)
          +      unsigned char sha1[20];
          +      struct commit *cmit;

Git          Last change: 02/22/2012                   13

Git Manual                                      GIT-DIFF-FILES(1)

                 struct commit_list *list;
                 static int initialized = 0;
                 struct commit_name *n;

          +      if (get_sha1(arg, sha1) < 0)
          +              usage(describe_usage);
          +      cmit = lookup_commit_reference(sha1);
          +      if (!cmit)
          +              usage(describe_usage);
                 if (!initialized) {
                         initialized = 1;

      1. It is preceded with a "git diff" header, that looks like
         this (when -c option is used):

             diff --combined file

         or like this (when --cc option is used):

             diff --cc file

      2. It is followed by one or more extended header lines
         (this example shows a merge with two parents):

             index <hash>,<hash>..<hash>
             mode <mode>,<mode>..<mode>
             new file mode <mode>
             deleted file mode <mode>,<mode>

         The mode <mode>,<mode>..<mode> line appears only if at
         least one of the <mode> is different from the rest.
         Extended headers with information about detected
         contents movement (renames and copying detection) are
         designed to work with diff of two <tree-ish> and are not
         used by combined diff format.

      3. It is followed by two-line from-file/to-file header

             --- a/file
             +++ b/file

         Similar to two-line header for traditional unified diff
         format, /dev/null is used to signal created or deleted

      4. Chunk header format is modified to prevent people from
         accidentally feeding it to patch -p1. Combined diff
         format was created for review of merge commit changes,

Git          Last change: 02/22/2012                   14

Git Manual                                      GIT-DIFF-FILES(1)

         and was not meant for apply. The change is similar to
         the change in the extended index header:

             @@@ <from-file-range> <from-file-range> <to-file-range> @@@

         There are (number of parents + 1) @ characters in the
         chunk header for combined diff format.

     Unlike the traditional unified diff format, which shows two
     files A and B with a single column that has - (minus --
     appears in A but removed in B), + (plus -- missing in A but
     added to B), or " " (space -- unchanged) prefix, this format
     compares two or more files file1, file2,... with one file X,
     and shows how X differs from each of fileN. One column for
     each of fileN is prepended to the output line to note how
     X's line is different from it.

     A - character in the column N means that the line appears in
     fileN but it does not appear in the result. A + character in
     the column N means that the line appears in the result, and
     fileN does not have that line (in other words, the line was
     added, from the point of view of that parent).

     In the above example output, the function signature was
     changed from both files (hence two - removals from both
     file1 and file2, plus ++ to mean one line that was added
     does not appear in either file1 nor file2). Also eight other
     lines are the same from file1 but do not appear in file2
     (hence prefixed with +).

     When shown by git diff-tree -c, it compares the parents of a
     merge commit with the merge result (i.e. file1..fileN are
     the parents). When shown by git diff-files -c, it compares
     the two unresolved merge parents with the working tree file
     (i.e. file1 is stage 2 aka "our version", file2 is stage 3
     aka "their version").

     The --summary option describes newly added, deleted, renamed
     and copied files. The --stat option adds diffstat(1) graph
     to the output. These options can be combined with other
     options, such as -p, and are meant for human consumption.

     When showing a change that involves a rename or a copy,
     --stat output formats the pathnames compactly by combining
     common prefix and suffix of the pathnames. For example, a
     change that moves arch/i386/Makefile to arch/x86/Makefile
     while modifying 4 lines will be shown like this:

         arch/{i386 => x86}/Makefile    |   4 +--

Git          Last change: 02/22/2012                   15

Git Manual                                      GIT-DIFF-FILES(1)

     The --numstat option gives the diffstat(1) information but
     is designed for easier machine consumption. An entry in
     --numstat output looks like this:

         1       2       README
         3       1       arch/{i386 => x86}/Makefile

     That is, from left to right:

      1. the number of added lines;

      2. a tab;

      3. the number of deleted lines;

      4. a tab;

      5. pathname (possibly with rename/copy information);

      6. a newline.

     When -z output option is in effect, the output is formatted
     this way:

         1       2       README NUL
         3       1       NUL arch/i386/Makefile NUL arch/x86/Makefile NUL

     That is:

      1. the number of added lines;

      2. a tab;

      3. the number of deleted lines;

      4. a tab;

      5. a NUL (only exists if renamed/copied);

      6. pathname in preimage;

      7. a NUL (only exists if renamed/copied);

      8. pathname in postimage (only exists if renamed/copied);

      9. a NUL.

     The extra NUL before the preimage path in renamed case is to
     allow scripts that read the output to tell if the current
     record being read is a single-path record or a rename/copy

Git          Last change: 02/22/2012                   16

Git Manual                                      GIT-DIFF-FILES(1)

     record without reading ahead. After reading added and
     deleted lines, reading up to NUL would yield the pathname,
     but if that is NUL, the record will show two paths.

     Part of the git(1) suite

     See attributes(5) for descriptions of the following

     |Availability   | developer/versioning/git |
     |Stability      | Uncommitted              |
     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

Git          Last change: 02/22/2012                   17