git-checkout(1) — Linux manual page


GIT-CHECKOUT(1)                Git Manual                GIT-CHECKOUT(1)

NAME         top

       git-checkout - Switch branches or restore working tree files

SYNOPSIS         top

       git checkout [-q] [-f] [-m] [<branch>]
       git checkout [-q] [-f] [-m] --detach [<branch>]
       git checkout [-q] [-f] [-m] [--detach] <commit>
       git checkout [-q] [-f] [-m] [[-b|-B|--orphan] <new-branch>] [<start-point>]
       git checkout [-f] <tree-ish> [--] <pathspec>...
       git checkout [-f] <tree-ish> --pathspec-from-file=<file> [--pathspec-file-nul]
       git checkout [-f|--ours|--theirs|-m|--conflict=<style>] [--] <pathspec>...
       git checkout [-f|--ours|--theirs|-m|--conflict=<style>] --pathspec-from-file=<file> [--pathspec-file-nul]
       git checkout (-p|--patch) [<tree-ish>] [--] [<pathspec>...]

DESCRIPTION         top

       Updates files in the working tree to match the version in the
       index or the specified tree. If no pathspec was given, git
       checkout will also update HEAD to set the specified branch as the
       current branch.

       git checkout [<branch>]
           To prepare for working on <branch>, switch to it by updating
           the index and the files in the working tree, and by pointing
           HEAD at the branch. Local modifications to the files in the
           working tree are kept, so that they can be committed to the

           If <branch> is not found but there does exist a tracking
           branch in exactly one remote (call it <remote>) with a
           matching name and --no-guess is not specified, treat as
           equivalent to

               $ git checkout -b <branch> --track <remote>/<branch>

           You could omit <branch>, in which case the command
           degenerates to "check out the current branch", which is a
           glorified no-op with rather expensive side-effects to show
           only the tracking information, if it exists, for the current

       git checkout -b|-B <new-branch> [<start-point>]
           Specifying -b causes a new branch to be created as if
           git-branch(1) were called and then checked out. In this case
           you can use the --track or --no-track options, which will be
           passed to git branch. As a convenience, --track without -b
           implies branch creation; see the description of --track

           If -B is given, <new-branch> is created if it doesn’t exist;
           otherwise, it is reset. This is the transactional equivalent

               $ git branch -f <branch> [<start-point>]
               $ git checkout <branch>

           that is to say, the branch is not reset/created unless "git
           checkout" is successful.

       git checkout --detach [<branch>], git checkout [--detach]
           Prepare to work on top of <commit>, by detaching HEAD at it
           (see "DETACHED HEAD" section), and updating the index and the
           files in the working tree. Local modifications to the files
           in the working tree are kept, so that the resulting working
           tree will be the state recorded in the commit plus the local

           When the <commit> argument is a branch name, the --detach
           option can be used to detach HEAD at the tip of the branch
           (git checkout <branch> would check out that branch without
           detaching HEAD).

           Omitting <branch> detaches HEAD at the tip of the current

       git checkout [-f|--ours|--theirs|-m|--conflict=<style>]
       [<tree-ish>] [--] <pathspec>..., git checkout
       [-f|--ours|--theirs|-m|--conflict=<style>] [<tree-ish>]
       --pathspec-from-file=<file> [--pathspec-file-nul]
           Overwrite the contents of the files that match the pathspec.
           When the <tree-ish> (most often a commit) is not given,
           overwrite working tree with the contents in the index. When
           the <tree-ish> is given, overwrite both the index and the
           working tree with the contents at the <tree-ish>.

           The index may contain unmerged entries because of a previous
           failed merge. By default, if you try to check out such an
           entry from the index, the checkout operation will fail and
           nothing will be checked out. Using -f will ignore these
           unmerged entries. The contents from a specific side of the
           merge can be checked out of the index by using --ours or
           --theirs. With -m, changes made to the working tree file can
           be discarded to re-create the original conflicted merge

       git checkout (-p|--patch) [<tree-ish>] [--] [<pathspec>...]
           This is similar to the previous mode, but lets you use the
           interactive interface to show the "diff" output and choose
           which hunks to use in the result. See below for the
           description of --patch option.

OPTIONS         top

       -q, --quiet
           Quiet, suppress feedback messages.

       --progress, --no-progress
           Progress status is reported on the standard error stream by
           default when it is attached to a terminal, unless --quiet is
           specified. This flag enables progress reporting even if not
           attached to a terminal, regardless of --quiet.

       -f, --force
           When switching branches, proceed even if the index or the
           working tree differs from HEAD, and even if there are
           untracked files in the way. This is used to throw away local
           changes and any untracked files or directories that are in
           the way.

           When checking out paths from the index, do not fail upon
           unmerged entries; instead, unmerged entries are ignored.

       --ours, --theirs
           When checking out paths from the index, check out stage #2
           (ours) or #3 (theirs) for unmerged paths.

           Note that during git rebase and git pull --rebase, ours and
           theirs may appear swapped; --ours gives the version from the
           branch the changes are rebased onto, while --theirs gives the
           version from the branch that holds your work that is being

           This is because rebase is used in a workflow that treats the
           history at the remote as the shared canonical one, and treats
           the work done on the branch you are rebasing as the
           third-party work to be integrated, and you are temporarily
           assuming the role of the keeper of the canonical history
           during the rebase. As the keeper of the canonical history,
           you need to view the history from the remote as ours (i.e.
           "our shared canonical history"), while what you did on your
           side branch as theirs (i.e. "one contributor’s work on top of

       -b <new-branch>
           Create a new branch named <new-branch>, start it at
           <start-point>, and check the resulting branch out; see
           git-branch(1) for details.

       -B <new-branch>
           Creates the branch <new-branch>, start it at <start-point>;
           if it already exists, then reset it to <start-point>. And
           then check the resulting branch out. This is equivalent to
           running "git branch" with "-f" followed by "git checkout" of
           that branch; see git-branch(1) for details.

       -t, --track[=(direct|inherit)]
           When creating a new branch, set up "upstream" configuration.
           See "--track" in git-branch(1) for details.

           If no -b option is given, the name of the new branch will be
           derived from the remote-tracking branch, by looking at the
           local part of the refspec configured for the corresponding
           remote, and then stripping the initial part up to the "*".
           This would tell us to use hack as the local branch when
           branching off of origin/hack (or remotes/origin/hack, or even
           refs/remotes/origin/hack). If the given name has no slash, or
           the above guessing results in an empty name, the guessing is
           aborted. You can explicitly give a name with -b in such a

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

       --guess, --no-guess
           If <branch> is not found but there does exist a tracking
           branch in exactly one remote (call it <remote>) with a
           matching name, treat as equivalent to

               $ git checkout -b <branch> --track <remote>/<branch>

           If the branch exists in multiple remotes and one of them is
           named by the checkout.defaultRemote configuration variable,
           we’ll use that one for the purposes of disambiguation, even
           if the <branch> isn’t unique across all remotes. Set it to
           e.g.  checkout.defaultRemote=origin to always checkout remote
           branches from there if <branch> is ambiguous but exists on
           the origin remote. See also checkout.defaultRemote in

           --guess is the default behavior. Use --no-guess to disable

           The default behavior can be set via the checkout.guess
           configuration variable.

           Create the new branch’s reflog; see git-branch(1) for

       -d, --detach
           Rather than checking out a branch to work on it, check out a
           commit for inspection and discardable experiments. This is
           the default behavior of git checkout <commit> when <commit>
           is not a branch name. See the "DETACHED HEAD" section below
           for details.

       --orphan <new-branch>
           Create a new orphan branch, named <new-branch>, started from
           <start-point> and switch to it. The first commit made on this
           new branch will have no parents and it will be the root of a
           new history totally disconnected from all the other branches
           and commits.

           The index and the working tree are adjusted as if you had
           previously run git checkout <start-point>. This allows you to
           start a new history that records a set of paths similar to
           <start-point> by easily running git commit -a to make the
           root commit.

           This can be useful when you want to publish the tree from a
           commit without exposing its full history. You might want to
           do this to publish an open source branch of a project whose
           current tree is "clean", but whose full history contains
           proprietary or otherwise encumbered bits of code.

           If you want to start a disconnected history that records a
           set of paths that is totally different from the one of
           <start-point>, then you should clear the index and the
           working tree right after creating the orphan branch by
           running git rm -rf .  from the top level of the working tree.
           Afterwards you will be ready to prepare your new files,
           repopulating the working tree, by copying them from
           elsewhere, extracting a tarball, etc.

           In sparse checkout mode, git checkout -- <paths> would update
           only entries matched by <paths> and sparse patterns in
           $GIT_DIR/info/sparse-checkout. This option ignores the sparse
           patterns and adds back any files in <paths>.

       -m, --merge
           When switching branches, if you have local modifications to
           one or more files that are different between the current
           branch and the branch to which you are switching, the command
           refuses to switch branches in order to preserve your
           modifications in context. However, with this option, a
           three-way merge between the current branch, your working tree
           contents, and the new branch is done, and you will be on the
           new branch.

           When a merge conflict happens, the index entries for
           conflicting paths are left unmerged, and you need to resolve
           the conflicts and mark the resolved paths with git add (or
           git rm if the merge should result in deletion of the path).

           When checking out paths from the index, this option lets you
           recreate the conflicted merge in the specified paths. This
           option cannot be used when checking out paths from a

           When switching branches with --merge, staged changes may be

           The same as --merge option above, but changes the way the
           conflicting hunks are presented, overriding the
           merge.conflictStyle configuration variable. Possible values
           are "merge" (default), "diff3", and "zdiff3".

       -p, --patch
           Interactively select hunks in the difference between the
           <tree-ish> (or the index, if unspecified) and the working
           tree. The chosen hunks are then applied in reverse to the
           working tree (and if a <tree-ish> was specified, the index).

           This means that you can use git checkout -p to selectively
           discard edits from your current working tree. See the
           “Interactive Mode” section of git-add(1) to learn how to
           operate the --patch mode.

           Note that this option uses the no overlay mode by default
           (see also --overlay), and currently doesn’t support overlay

           git checkout refuses when the wanted ref is already checked
           out by another worktree. This option makes it check the ref
           out anyway. In other words, the ref can be held by more than
           one worktree.

       --overwrite-ignore, --no-overwrite-ignore
           Silently overwrite ignored files when switching branches.
           This is the default behavior. Use --no-overwrite-ignore to
           abort the operation when the new branch contains ignored

       --recurse-submodules, --no-recurse-submodules
           Using --recurse-submodules will update the content of all
           active submodules according to the commit recorded in the
           superproject. If local modifications in a submodule would be
           overwritten the checkout will fail unless -f is used. If
           nothing (or --no-recurse-submodules) is used, submodules
           working trees will not be updated. Just like
           git-submodule(1), this will detach HEAD of the submodule.

       --overlay, --no-overlay
           In the default overlay mode, git checkout never removes files
           from the index or the working tree. When specifying
           --no-overlay, files that appear in the index and working
           tree, but not in <tree-ish> are removed, to make them match
           <tree-ish> exactly.

           Pathspec is passed in <file> instead of commandline args. If
           <file> is exactly - then standard input is used. Pathspec
           elements are separated by LF or CR/LF. Pathspec elements can
           be quoted as explained for the configuration variable
           core.quotePath (see git-config(1)). See also
           --pathspec-file-nul and global --literal-pathspecs.

           Only meaningful with --pathspec-from-file. Pathspec elements
           are separated with NUL character and all other characters are
           taken literally (including newlines and quotes).

           Branch to checkout; if it refers to a branch (i.e., a name
           that, when prepended with "refs/heads/", is a valid ref),
           then that branch is checked out. Otherwise, if it refers to a
           valid commit, your HEAD becomes "detached" and you are no
           longer on any branch (see below for details).

           You can use the @{-N} syntax to refer to the N-th last
           branch/commit checked out using "git checkout" operation. You
           may also specify - which is synonymous to @{-1}.

           As a special case, you may use A...B as a shortcut for the
           merge base of A and B if there is exactly one merge base. You
           can leave out at most one of A and B, in which case it
           defaults to HEAD.

           Name for the new branch.

           The name of a commit at which to start the new branch; see
           git-branch(1) for details. Defaults to HEAD.

           As a special case, you may use "A...B" as a shortcut for the
           merge base of A and B if there is exactly one merge base. You
           can leave out at most one of A and B, in which case it
           defaults to HEAD.

           Tree to checkout from (when paths are given). If not
           specified, the index will be used.

           As a special case, you may use "A...B" as a shortcut for the
           merge base of A and B if there is exactly one merge base. You
           can leave out at most one of A and B, in which case it
           defaults to HEAD.

           Do not interpret any more arguments as options.

           Limits the paths affected by the operation.

           For more details, see the pathspec entry in gitglossary(7).

DETACHED HEAD         top

       HEAD normally refers to a named branch (e.g. master). Meanwhile,
       each branch refers to a specific commit. Let’s look at a repo
       with three commits, one of them tagged, and with branch master
       checked out:

                      HEAD (refers to branch 'master')
           a---b---c  branch 'master' (refers to commit 'c')
             tag 'v2.0' (refers to commit 'b')

       When a commit is created in this state, the branch is updated to
       refer to the new commit. Specifically, git commit creates a new
       commit d, whose parent is commit c, and then updates branch
       master to refer to new commit d. HEAD still refers to branch
       master and so indirectly now refers to commit d:

           $ edit; git add; git commit

                          HEAD (refers to branch 'master')
           a---b---c---d  branch 'master' (refers to commit 'd')
             tag 'v2.0' (refers to commit 'b')

       It is sometimes useful to be able to checkout a commit that is
       not at the tip of any named branch, or even to create a new
       commit that is not referenced by a named branch. Let’s look at
       what happens when we checkout commit b (here we show two ways
       this may be done):

           $ git checkout v2.0  # or
           $ git checkout master^^

              HEAD (refers to commit 'b')
           a---b---c---d  branch 'master' (refers to commit 'd')
             tag 'v2.0' (refers to commit 'b')

       Notice that regardless of which checkout command we use, HEAD now
       refers directly to commit b. This is known as being in detached
       HEAD state. It means simply that HEAD refers to a specific
       commit, as opposed to referring to a named branch. Let’s see what
       happens when we create a commit:

           $ edit; git add; git commit

                HEAD (refers to commit 'e')
           a---b---c---d  branch 'master' (refers to commit 'd')
             tag 'v2.0' (refers to commit 'b')

       There is now a new commit e, but it is referenced only by HEAD.
       We can of course add yet another commit in this state:

           $ edit; git add; git commit

                    HEAD (refers to commit 'f')
           a---b---c---d  branch 'master' (refers to commit 'd')
             tag 'v2.0' (refers to commit 'b')

       In fact, we can perform all the normal Git operations. But, let’s
       look at what happens when we then checkout master:

           $ git checkout master

                          HEAD (refers to branch 'master')
                 e---f     |
                /          v
           a---b---c---d  branch 'master' (refers to commit 'd')
             tag 'v2.0' (refers to commit 'b')

       It is important to realize that at this point nothing refers to
       commit f. Eventually commit f (and by extension commit e) will be
       deleted by the routine Git garbage collection process, unless we
       create a reference before that happens. If we have not yet moved
       away from commit f, any of these will create a reference to it:

           $ git checkout -b foo  # or "git switch -c foo"  (1)
           $ git branch foo                                 (2)
           $ git tag foo                                    (3)

        1. creates a new branch foo, which refers to commit f,
           and then updates HEAD to refer to branch foo. In other
           words, we’ll no longer be in detached HEAD state after
           this command.
        2. similarly creates a new branch foo, which refers to
           commit f, but leaves HEAD detached.
        3. creates a new tag foo, which refers to commit f,
           leaving HEAD detached.

       If we have moved away from commit f, then we must first recover
       its object name (typically by using git reflog), and then we can
       create a reference to it. For example, to see the last two
       commits to which HEAD referred, we can use either of these

           $ git reflog -2 HEAD # or
           $ git log -g -2 HEAD


       When there is only one argument given and it is not -- (e.g. git
       checkout abc), and when the argument is both a valid <tree-ish>
       (e.g. a branch abc exists) and a valid <pathspec> (e.g. a file or
       a directory whose name is "abc" exists), Git would usually ask
       you to disambiguate. Because checking out a branch is so common
       an operation, however, git checkout abc takes "abc" as a
       <tree-ish> in such a situation. Use git checkout -- <pathspec> if
       you want to checkout these paths out of the index.

EXAMPLES         top

   1. Paths
       The following sequence checks out the master branch, reverts the
       Makefile to two revisions back, deletes hello.c by mistake, and
       gets it back from the index.

           $ git checkout master             (1)
           $ git checkout master~2 Makefile  (2)
           $ rm -f hello.c
           $ git checkout hello.c            (3)

        1. switch branch
        2. take a file out of another commit
        3. restore hello.c from the index

       If you want to check out all C source files out of the index, you
       can say

           $ git checkout -- '*.c'

       Note the quotes around *.c. The file hello.c will also be checked
       out, even though it is no longer in the working tree, because the
       file globbing is used to match entries in the index (not in the
       working tree by the shell).

       If you have an unfortunate branch that is named hello.c, this
       step would be confused as an instruction to switch to that
       branch. You should instead write:

           $ git checkout -- hello.c

   2. Merge
       After working in the wrong branch, switching to the correct
       branch would be done using:

           $ git checkout mytopic

       However, your "wrong" branch and correct mytopic branch may
       differ in files that you have modified locally, in which case the
       above checkout would fail like this:

           $ git checkout mytopic
           error: You have local changes to 'frotz'; not switching branches.

       You can give the -m flag to the command, which would try a
       three-way merge:

           $ git checkout -m mytopic
           Auto-merging frotz

       After this three-way merge, the local modifications are not
       registered in your index file, so git diff would show you what
       changes you made since the tip of the new branch.

   3. Merge conflict
       When a merge conflict happens during switching branches with the
       -m option, you would see something like this:

           $ git checkout -m mytopic
           Auto-merging frotz
           ERROR: Merge conflict in frotz
           fatal: merge program failed

       At this point, git diff shows the changes cleanly merged as in
       the previous example, as well as the changes in the conflicted
       files. Edit and resolve the conflict and mark it resolved with
       git add as usual:

           $ edit frotz
           $ git add frotz


       Everything below this line in this section is selectively
       included from the git-config(1) documentation. The content is the
       same as what’s found there:

           When you run git checkout <something> or git switch
           <something> and only have one remote, it may implicitly fall
           back on checking out and tracking e.g.  origin/<something>.
           This stops working as soon as you have more than one remote
           with a <something> reference. This setting allows for setting
           the name of a preferred remote that should always win when it
           comes to disambiguation. The typical use-case is to set this
           to origin.

           Currently this is used by git-switch(1) and git-checkout(1)
           when git checkout <something> or git switch <something> will
           checkout the <something> branch on another remote, and by
           git-worktree(1) when git worktree add refers to a remote
           branch. This setting might be used for other checkout-like
           commands or functionality in the future.

           Provides the default value for the --guess or --no-guess
           option in git checkout and git switch. See git-switch(1) and

           The number of parallel workers to use when updating the
           working tree. The default is one, i.e. sequential execution.
           If set to a value less than one, Git will use as many workers
           as the number of logical cores available. This setting and
           checkout.thresholdForParallelism affect all commands that
           perform checkout. E.g. checkout, clone, reset,
           sparse-checkout, etc.

           Note: Parallel checkout usually delivers better performance
           for repositories located on SSDs or over NFS. For
           repositories on spinning disks and/or machines with a small
           number of cores, the default sequential checkout often
           performs better. The size and compression level of a
           repository might also influence how well the parallel version

           When running parallel checkout with a small number of files,
           the cost of subprocess spawning and inter-process
           communication might outweigh the parallelization gains. This
           setting allows you to define the minimum number of files for
           which parallel checkout should be attempted. The default is

SEE ALSO         top

       git-switch(1), git-restore(1)

GIT         top

       Part of the git(1) suite

COLOPHON         top

       This page is part of the git (Git distributed version control
       system) project.  Information about the project can be found at
       ⟨⟩.  If you have a bug report for this manual
       page, see ⟨⟩.  This page was obtained
       from the project's upstream Git repository
       ⟨⟩ on 2023-12-22.  (At that time,
       the date of the most recent commit that was found in the
       repository was 2023-12-20.)  If you discover any rendering
       problems in this HTML version of the page, or you believe there
       is a better or more up-to-date source for the page, or you have
       corrections or improvements to the information in this COLOPHON
       (which is not part of the original manual page), send a mail to

Git         2023-12-20                GIT-CHECKOUT(1)

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