Some commonly used Git commands related to branch operations.

Create a new branch (locally and remotely)

Create branch locally

We can use the following command to create a new branch

git branch <new_branch>

At this time, we are still in original branch. To switch to new branch, use the following command:

git checkout <new_branch>

The two steps can be combined with the following command:

git checkout -b <new_branch>

Create branch remotely

To create a remote branch, use the following command:

git push -u origin <local_branch>

The -u option sets a upstream branch of the same name for tracking, i.e., now our local branch corresponds to the remote branch of the same name.


Create a git branch from a specific commit

Sometimes, we may find that we need to fix a flaw in a specific commit, but current work has not been finished. We may create a new branch from that commit, and after that, merge that branch to current branch.

This is how we do using git:

git branch fix_bug <commit_id>
git checkout fix_bug

<commit_id> is the hash of that commit as shown in the git log output.

The above command can also be simplified using -b for checkout:

git checkout -b fix_bug <commit_id>

After fixing the issue in branch fix_bug, we can then merge the change into the original branch, say, master branch:

git checkout master
git merge fix_bug


Show branches

  • show all branches (local and remote): git branch -a
  • show all local branches: git branch -l
  • show all remote branches: git branch -r

Delete a branch

  • Delete local branch: git branch -d <branch_name>
  • Delete remote branch: git push -d <remote_name> <remote_branch>

Note that you can not delete a local branch when you are on it! You need first to checkout to another branch.


Rename a branch locally and remotely

First we need to rename the local branch:

git branch -m foo bar
git branch --unset-upstream foo

Then we push this branch to the remote:

# create a remote branch of the same name and track it.
git push -u origin bar

If the original remote branch foo is the default branch, you need to set other branch as the default. Otherwise, you can delete remote branch foo. After making sure that foo is default remote branch, run the following command to delete it from remote:

# suppose that origin is the remote name
git push -d origin foo


Create a local branch from a remote branch?

I have a remote branch and I would like to create a local branch based on it. First, we need to fetch the remote changes:

git fetch

Then we can create a local branch from the remote branch:

git checkout -b local_branch_name remote_name/remote_branch

If you do not want to change the remote name, you can also also -t:

git checkout -t <name of remote>/<remote branch name>

It will create a local branch of the same name.


Find remote tracking branch for local branch

If we want to find the remote local branch a local branch is tracking, we can use the following command:

git branch -vv

We can also use the git remote command to show remote tracking branch:

git remote show <remote name>