gitcli(7) — Linux manual page


GITCLI(7)                      Git Manual                      GITCLI(7)

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       gitcli - Git command-line interface and conventions

SYNOPSIS         top


DESCRIPTION         top

       This manual describes the convention used throughout Git CLI.

       Many commands take revisions (most often "commits", but sometimes
       "tree-ish", depending on the context and command) and paths as
       their arguments. Here are the rules:

       •   Options come first and then args. A subcommand may take
           dashed options (which may take their own arguments, e.g.
           "--max-parents 2") and arguments. You SHOULD give dashed
           options first and then arguments. Some commands may accept
           dashed options after you have already given non-option
           arguments (which may make the command ambiguous), but you
           should not rely on it (because eventually we may find a way
           to fix these ambiguities by enforcing the "options then args"

       •   Revisions come first and then paths. E.g. in git diff v1.0
           v2.0 arch/x86 include/asm-x86, v1.0 and v2.0 are revisions
           and arch/x86 and include/asm-x86 are paths.

       •   When an argument can be misunderstood as either a revision or
           a path, they can be disambiguated by placing -- between them.
           E.g.  git diff -- HEAD is, "I have a file called HEAD in my
           work tree. Please show changes between the version I staged
           in the index and what I have in the work tree for that file",
           not "show the difference between the HEAD commit and the work
           tree as a whole". You can say git diff HEAD -- to ask for the

       •   Without disambiguating --, Git makes a reasonable guess, but
           errors out and asks you to disambiguate when ambiguous. E.g.
           if you have a file called HEAD in your work tree, git diff
           HEAD is ambiguous, and you have to say either git diff HEAD
           -- or git diff -- HEAD to disambiguate.

       •   Because -- disambiguates revisions and paths in some
           commands, it cannot be used for those commands to separate
           options and revisions. You can use --end-of-options for this
           (it also works for commands that do not distinguish between
           revisions in paths, in which case it is simply an alias for

           When writing a script that is expected to handle random
           user-input, it is a good practice to make it explicit which
           arguments are which by placing disambiguating -- at
           appropriate places.

       •   Many commands allow wildcards in paths, but you need to
           protect them from getting globbed by the shell. These two
           mean different things:

               $ git restore *.c
               $ git restore \*.c

           The former lets your shell expand the fileglob, and you are
           asking the dot-C files in your working tree to be overwritten
           with the version in the index. The latter passes the *.c to
           Git, and you are asking the paths in the index that match the
           pattern to be checked out to your working tree. After running
           git add hello.c; rm hello.c, you will not see hello.c in your
           working tree with the former, but with the latter you will.

       •   Just as the filesystem .  (period) refers to the current
           directory, using a .  as a repository name in Git (a
           dot-repository) is a relative path and means your current

       Here are the rules regarding the "flags" that you should follow
       when you are scripting Git:

       •   Splitting short options to separate words (prefer git foo -a
           -b to git foo -ab, the latter may not even work).

       •   When a command-line option takes an argument, use the stuck
           form. In other words, write git foo -oArg instead of git foo
           -o Arg for short options, and git foo --long-opt=Arg instead
           of git foo --long-opt Arg for long options. An option that
           takes optional option-argument must be written in the stuck

       •   When you give a revision parameter to a command, make sure
           the parameter is not ambiguous with a name of a file in the
           work tree. E.g. do not write git log -1 HEAD but write git
           log -1 HEAD --; the former will not work if you happen to
           have a file called HEAD in the work tree.

       •   Many commands allow a long option --option to be abbreviated
           only to their unique prefix (e.g. if there is no other option
           whose name begins with opt, you may be able to spell --opt to
           invoke the --option flag), but you should fully spell them
           out when writing your scripts; later versions of Git may
           introduce a new option whose name shares the same prefix,
           e.g.  --optimize, to make a short prefix that used to be
           unique no longer unique.


       From the Git 1.5.4 series and further, many Git commands (not all
       of them at the time of the writing though) come with an enhanced
       option parser.

       Here is a list of the facilities provided by this option parser.

   Magic Options
       Commands which have the enhanced option parser activated all
       understand a couple of magic command-line options:

           gives a pretty printed usage of the command.

               $ git describe -h
               usage: git describe [<options>] <commit-ish>*
                  or: git describe [<options>] --dirty

                   --contains            find the tag that comes after the commit
                   --debug               debug search strategy on stderr
                   --all                 use any ref
                   --tags                use any tag, even unannotated
                   --long                always use long format
                   --abbrev[=<n>]        use <n> digits to display SHA-1s

           Note that some subcommand (e.g.  git grep) may behave
           differently when there are things on the command line other
           than -h, but git subcmd -h without anything else on the
           command line is meant to consistently give the usage.

           Some Git commands take options that are only used for
           plumbing or that are deprecated, and such options are hidden
           from the default usage. This option gives the full list of

   Negating options
       Options with long option names can be negated by prefixing --no-.
       For example, git branch has the option --track which is on by
       default. You can use --no-track to override that behaviour. The
       same goes for --color and --no-color.

   Aggregating short options
       Commands that support the enhanced option parser allow you to
       aggregate short options. This means that you can for example use
       git rm -rf or git clean -fdx.

   Abbreviating long options
       Commands that support the enhanced option parser accepts unique
       prefix of a long option as if it is fully spelled out, but use
       this with a caution. For example, git commit --amen behaves as if
       you typed git commit --amend, but that is true only until a later
       version of Git introduces another option that shares the same
       prefix, e.g. git commit --amenity option.

   Separating argument from the option
       You can write the mandatory option parameter to an option as a
       separate word on the command line. That means that all the
       following uses work:

           $ git foo --long-opt=Arg
           $ git foo --long-opt Arg
           $ git foo -oArg
           $ git foo -o Arg

       However, this is NOT allowed for switches with an optional value,
       where the stuck form must be used:

           $ git describe --abbrev HEAD     # correct
           $ git describe --abbrev=10 HEAD  # correct
           $ git describe --abbrev 10 HEAD  # NOT WHAT YOU MEANT


       Many commands that can work on files in the working tree and/or
       in the index can take --cached and/or --index options. Sometimes
       people incorrectly think that, because the index was originally
       called cache, these two are synonyms. They are not — these two
       options mean very different things.

       •   The --cached option is used to ask a command that usually
           works on files in the working tree to only work with the
           index. For example, git grep, when used without a commit to
           specify from which commit to look for strings in, usually
           works on files in the working tree, but with the --cached
           option, it looks for strings in the index.

       •   The --index option is used to ask a command that usually
           works on files in the working tree to also affect the index.
           For example, git stash apply usually merges changes recorded
           in a stash entry to the working tree, but with the --index
           option, it also merges changes to the index as well.

       git apply command can be used with --cached and --index (but not
       at the same time). Usually the command only affects the files in
       the working tree, but with --index, it patches both the files and
       their index entries, and with --cached, it modifies only the
       index entries.

       See also
       for further information.

       Some other commands that also work on files in the working tree
       and/or in the index can take --staged and/or --worktree.

       •   --staged is exactly like --cached, which is used to ask a
           command to only work on the index, not the working tree.

       •   --worktree is the opposite, to ask a command to work on the
           working tree only, not the index.

       •   The two options can be specified together to ask a command to
           work on both the index and the working tree.

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       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 2024-06-14.  (At that time,
       the date of the most recent commit that was found in the
       repository was 2024-06-12.)  If you discover any rendering
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Git         2024-06-12                      GITCLI(7)

Pages that refer to this page: git(1)git-help(1)git-hook(1)gitk(1)git-rev-parse(1)