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Updated: July 2014

git-update-index (1)


git-update-index - Register file contents in the working tree to the index


git update-index
[--add] [--remove | --force-remove] [--replace]
[--refresh] [-q] [--unmerged] [--ignore-missing]
[(--cacheinfo <mode> <object> <file>)...]
[--assume-unchanged | --no-assume-unchanged]
[--skip-worktree | --no-skip-worktree]
[--really-refresh] [--unresolve] [--again | -g]
[--info-only] [--index-info]
[-z] [--stdin]
[--] [<file>...]


Git Manual                                    GIT-UPDATE-INDEX(1)

     git-update-index - Register file contents in the working
     tree to the index

     git update-index
                  [--add] [--remove | --force-remove] [--replace]
                  [--refresh] [-q] [--unmerged] [--ignore-missing]
                  [(--cacheinfo <mode> <object> <file>)...]
                  [--assume-unchanged | --no-assume-unchanged]
                  [--skip-worktree | --no-skip-worktree]
                  [--really-refresh] [--unresolve] [--again | -g]
                  [--info-only] [--index-info]
                  [-z] [--stdin]
                  [--] [<file>...]

     Modifies the index or directory cache. Each file mentioned
     is updated into the index and any unmerged or needs updating
     state is cleared.

     See also git-add(1) for a more user-friendly way to do some
     of the most common operations on the index.

     The way git update-index handles files it is told about can
     be modified using the various options:

         If a specified file isn't in the index already then it's
         added. Default behaviour is to ignore new files.

         If a specified file is in the index but is missing then
         it's removed. Default behavior is to ignore removed

         Looks at the current index and checks to see if merges
         or updates are needed by checking stat() information.

         Quiet. If --refresh finds that the index needs an
         update, the default behavior is to error out. This
         option makes git update-index continue anyway.

         Do not try to update submodules. This option is only

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Git Manual                                    GIT-UPDATE-INDEX(1)

         respected when passed before --refresh.

         If --refresh finds unmerged changes in the index, the
         default behavior is to error out. This option makes git
         update-index continue anyway.

         Ignores missing files during a --refresh

     --cacheinfo <mode> <object> <path>
         Directly insert the specified info into the index.

         Read index information from stdin.

         Set the execute permissions on the updated files.

     --assume-unchanged, --no-assume-unchanged
         When these flags are specified, the object names
         recorded for the paths are not updated. Instead, these
         options set and unset the "assume unchanged" bit for the
         paths. When the "assume unchanged" bit is on, git stops
         checking the working tree files for possible
         modifications, so you need to manually unset the bit to
         tell git when you change the working tree file. This is
         sometimes helpful when working with a big project on a
         filesystem that has very slow lstat(2) system call (e.g.

         This option can be also used as a coarse file-level
         mechanism to ignore uncommitted changes in tracked files
         (akin to what .gitignore does for untracked files). Git
         will fail (gracefully) in case it needs to modify this
         file in the index e.g. when merging in a commit; thus,
         in case the assumed-untracked file is changed upstream,
         you will need to handle the situation manually.

         Like --refresh, but checks stat information
         unconditionally, without regard to the "assume
         unchanged" setting.

     --skip-worktree, --no-skip-worktree
         When one of these flags is specified, the object name
         recorded for the paths are not updated. Instead, these
         options set and unset the "skip-worktree" bit for the
         paths. See section "Skip-worktree bit" below for more

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Git Manual                                    GIT-UPDATE-INDEX(1)

     -g, --again
         Runs git update-index itself on the paths whose index
         entries are different from those from the HEAD commit.

         Restores the unmerged or needs updating state of a file
         during a merge if it was cleared by accident.

         Do not create objects in the object database for all
         <file> arguments that follow this flag; just insert
         their object IDs into the index.

         Remove the file from the index even when the working
         directory still has such a file. (Implies --remove.)

         By default, when a file path exists in the index, git
         update-index refuses an attempt to add path/file.
         Similarly if a file path/file exists, a file path cannot
         be added. With --replace flag, existing entries that
         conflict with the entry being added are automatically
         removed with warning messages.

         Instead of taking list of paths from the command line,
         read list of paths from the standard input. Paths are
         separated by LF (i.e. one path per line) by default.

         Report what is being added and removed from index.

         Only meaningful with --stdin or --index-info; paths are
         separated with NUL character instead of LF.

         Do not interpret any more arguments as options.

         Files to act on. Note that files beginning with .  are
         discarded. This includes ./file and dir/./file. If you
         don't want this, then use cleaner names. The same
         applies to directories ending / and paths with //

     --refresh does not calculate a new sha1 file or bring the
     index up-to-date for mode/content changes. But what it does
     do is to "re-match" the stat information of a file with the
     index, so that you can refresh the index for a file that
     hasn't been changed but where the stat entry is out of date.

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Git Manual                                    GIT-UPDATE-INDEX(1)

     For example, you'd want to do this after doing a git
     read-tree, to link up the stat index details with the proper

     --cacheinfo is used to register a file that is not in the
     current working directory. This is useful for
     minimum-checkout merging.

     To pretend you have a file with mode and sha1 at path, say:

         $ git update-index --cacheinfo mode sha1 path

     --info-only is used to register files without placing them
     in the object database. This is useful for status-only

     Both --cacheinfo and --info-only behave similarly: the index
     is updated but the object database isn't. --cacheinfo is
     useful when the object is in the database but the file isn't
     available locally. --info-only is useful when the file is
     available, but you do not wish to update the object

     --index-info is a more powerful mechanism that lets you feed
     multiple entry definitions from the standard input, and
     designed specifically for scripts. It can take inputs of
     three formats:

      1. mode SP sha1 TAB path

         The first format is what "git-apply --index-info"
         reports, and used to reconstruct a partial tree that is
         used for phony merge base tree when falling back on
         3-way merge.

      2. mode SP type SP sha1 TAB path

         The second format is to stuff git ls-tree output into
         the index file.

      3. mode SP sha1 SP stage TAB path

         This format is to put higher order stages into the index
         file and matches git ls-files --stage output.

     To place a higher stage entry to the index, the path should
     first be removed by feeding a mode=0 entry for the path, and
     then feeding necessary input lines in the third format.

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Git Manual                                    GIT-UPDATE-INDEX(1)

     For example, starting with this index:

         $ git ls-files -s
         100644 8a1218a1024a212bb3db30becd860315f9f3ac52 0       frotz

     you can feed the following input to --index-info:

         $ git update-index --index-info
         0 0000000000000000000000000000000000000000      frotz
         100644 8a1218a1024a212bb3db30becd860315f9f3ac52 1       frotz
         100755 8a1218a1024a212bb3db30becd860315f9f3ac52 2       frotz

     The first line of the input feeds 0 as the mode to remove
     the path; the SHA1 does not matter as long as it is well
     formatted. Then the second and third line feeds stage 1 and
     stage 2 entries for that path. After the above, we would end
     up with this:

         $ git ls-files -s
         100644 8a1218a1024a212bb3db30becd860315f9f3ac52 1       frotz
         100755 8a1218a1024a212bb3db30becd860315f9f3ac52 2       frotz

     Many operations in git depend on your filesystem to have an
     efficient lstat(2) implementation, so that st_mtime
     information for working tree files can be cheaply checked to
     see if the file contents have changed from the version
     recorded in the index file. Unfortunately, some filesystems
     have inefficient lstat(2). If your filesystem is one of
     them, you can set "assume unchanged" bit to paths you have
     not changed to cause git not to do this check. Note that
     setting this bit on a path does not mean git will check the
     contents of the file to see if it has changed -- it makes
     git to omit any checking and assume it has not changed. When
     you make changes to working tree files, you have to
     explicitly tell git about it by dropping "assume unchanged"
     bit, either before or after you modify them.

     In order to set "assume unchanged" bit, use
     --assume-unchanged option. To unset, use
     --no-assume-unchanged. To see which files have the "assume
     unchanged" bit set, use git ls-files -v (see git-ls-

     The command looks at core.ignorestat configuration variable.
     When this is true, paths updated with git update-index
     paths... and paths updated with other git commands that
     update both index and working tree (e.g. git apply --index,
     git checkout-index -u, and git read-tree -u) are

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Git Manual                                    GIT-UPDATE-INDEX(1)

     automatically marked as "assume unchanged". Note that
     "assume unchanged" bit is not set if git update-index
     --refresh finds the working tree file matches the index (use
     git update-index --really-refresh if you want to mark them
     as "assume unchanged").

     To update and refresh only the files already checked out:

         $ git checkout-index -n -f -a && git update-index --ignore-missing --refresh

     On an inefficient filesystem with core.ignorestat set

             $ git update-index --really-refresh              (1)
             $ git update-index --no-assume-unchanged foo.c   (2)
             $ git diff --name-only                           (3)
             $ edit foo.c
             $ git diff --name-only                           (4)
             M foo.c
             $ git update-index foo.c                         (4)
             $ git diff --name-only                           (6)
             $ edit foo.c
             $ git diff --name-only                           (5)
             $ git update-index --no-assume-unchanged foo.c   (8)
             $ git diff --name-only                           (9)
             M foo.c

         1. forces lstat(2) to set "assume unchanged" bits for
         paths that match index.
         2. mark the path to be edited.
         3. this does lstat(2) and finds index matches the path.
         4. this does lstat(2) and finds index does not match the
         5. registering the new version to index sets "assume
         unchanged" bit.
         6. and it is assumed unchanged.
         7. even after you edit it.
         8. you can tell about the change after the fact.
         9. now it checks with lstat(2) and finds it has been

     Skip-worktree bit can be defined in one (long) sentence:
     When reading an entry, if it is marked as skip-worktree,
     then Git pretends its working directory version is up to
     date and read the index version instead.

     To elaborate, "reading" means checking for file existence,
     reading file attributes or file content. The working
     directory version may be present or absent. If present, its
     content may match against the index version or not. Writing

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Git Manual                                    GIT-UPDATE-INDEX(1)

     is not affected by this bit, content safety is still first
     priority. Note that Git can update working directory file,
     that is marked skip-worktree, if it is safe to do so (i.e.
     working directory version matches index version)

     Although this bit looks similar to assume-unchanged bit, its
     goal is different from assume-unchanged bit's. Skip-worktree
     also takes precedence over assume-unchanged bit when both
     are set.

     The command honors core.filemode configuration variable. If
     your repository is on a filesystem whose executable bits are
     unreliable, this should be set to false (see git-config(1)).
     This causes the command to ignore differences in file modes
     recorded in the index and the file mode on the filesystem if
     they differ only on executable bit. On such an unfortunate
     filesystem, you may need to use git update-index --chmod=.

     Quite similarly, if core.symlinks configuration variable is
     set to false (see git-config(1)), symbolic links are checked
     out as plain files, and this command does not modify a
     recorded file mode from symbolic link to regular file.

     The command looks at core.ignorestat configuration variable.
     See Using "assume unchanged" bit section above.

     The command also looks at core.trustctime configuration
     variable. It can be useful when the inode change time is
     regularly modified by something outside Git (file system
     crawlers and backup systems use ctime for marking files
     processed) (see git-config(1)).

     See attributes(5) for descriptions of the following

     |Availability   | developer/versioning/git |
     |Stability      | Uncommitted              |
     git-config(1), git-add(1), git-ls-files(1)

     Part of the git(1) suite

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Git Manual                                    GIT-UPDATE-INDEX(1)

     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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