My git tips/tricks

Over the years I’ve developed my own patterns in using git, which I thought I’d document here.

I’m by no means a git expert, but after having using it all through college, and for most of my professional career, I’ve definitely developed a few habits and a few tools for effectively working with git.


I love rebasing. I usually prefer rebasing to merging during development. I know that this is controversial, but rebasing makes the history so much cleaner, and it allows for a high degree of control over the commit set, making it easy to open PRs with clean, individually reviewable commits. git rebase -i has a really nice interface, and more people should spend more time cleaning up their commits in my opinion.

When it comes to getting changes on to main I’m ambivalent about squashing.

Partial add/restore

git add -p and git restore -p allow you to go chunk by chunk and either add, or remove changes from the repo. git restore -p is particularly useful to remove log statements that I scattered across the codebase while chasing down a bug. Note that this also work if you add --staged. git restore -p can have downsides though, and you can end up loosing work. I usually do a add -p before a restore -p to be safe.


Many times, I have files or directories inside a directory tracked as a git repo that I don’t want to ever check in. This is easy to avoid by adding a .gitignore entry. However, sometimes I don’t want to pollute my coworkers/cocomitters .gitignores with entries specific to my workflow. For example, I usually create directories named idk where I save logs from debugging or inputs to programs that I’m trying to test locally. I never want to commit the idk directory, and adding idk/ into .gitignore may be perceived as a bit odd since many people might not share my personal naming conventions. This is where .git/info/exclude takes the stage. It is a “local” .gitignore that tells git to exclude patterns, but isn’t itself tracked. Here’s what my exclude file looks like for my $WORK repo:

# git ls-files --others --exclude-from=.git/info/exclude
# Lines that start with '#' are comments.
# For a project mostly in C, the following would be a good set of
# exclude patterns (uncomment them if you want to use them):
# *.[oa]
# *~

# Ignore all files/directories starting with idk

# Ignore but only if it's in the root of the repo - we have legitamate
#'s in other places, but / is where I usually put repros of bug
# reports

# Ignore compile_commands.json - arguably this should be in .gitignore

# Ignore some build directories - also possibly more appropriate for .gitignore

Using .git/info/exclude has saved me from committing unwanted files, and given me additional peace of mind by seeing a clean git status report even though I have untracked files all over the place. I’m very glad it exists.


I have the following git-related aliases in my fish config:

alias gp='git push origin (git rev-parse --abbrev-ref HEAD)'
alias gb='git branch'
alias gd='git diff'
alias gs='git status'
# interactive search git branches and checkout, or pick the closest match and
# checkout
function gc
  set cmd "fzy"
  if test (count $argv) -gt 0
    set cmd "fzy -e \"$argv\" | head -n 1"
  set branch_name (gb | rev | cut -d\  -f 1 | rev | eval $cmd)
  git checkout $branch_name
  • gp allows me to push to the current branch without thinking too hard about it
  • gc is pretty cool - with no arguments, it pulls up a fuzzy search of all my local branches, and will checkout the selected branch. With an argument, it will use that as the parameter to the fuzzy search and pick the top result to checkout. Examples:
    • To switch to main, gc m is usually sufficient
    • To switch to aneesh/my_feature I might do gc feat
Written on April 18, 2024