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Git tips & tricks

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3 minutes read

Git is an extremely useful tool that I use almost every day. I'm very thankful that it exists and work as well as it does.

Git comes with ton of commands, and most of us only use a handful of them.

With this short guide I will walk you through my own tips and tricks. There is probably a lot more to uncover, but this is the tips and tricks I use the most.


Most of us have probably setup our .gitconfig by just using simple commands like;

$ git config --global
$ git config --global "Firstname Lastname"

And this is good and all, but we can do so much more with our configurations!

Separate configs for different directories

I like to have my personal and work projects separate, so that I can differentiate between the two. And I also like to commit and sign my commits with different email addresses.

In my config I have the following;

[includeIf "gitdir:<path-to-work-dir>"]
  path = <path-to-work-config>
[includeIf "gitdir:<path-to-personal-dir>"]
  path = <path-to-personal-config>

So whenever I'm in my <path-to-work-dir> I'm using my work email instead of my personal email for my commits.

Custom aliases for git commands

You can also specify your own aliases within the .gitconfig, and this is useful to save time and optimize your workflow.

An example from my own config;

  c = commit
  ca = c -a

You can use your aliases within the aliases as well, like I did above.

I'll show more examples later.

Pushing to multiple remotes

Up until recently I used an alias for pushing to multiple remotes at the same time, but I discovered in a Lobsters thread that you can specify more than one remote for the same origin.

$ git remote set-url --add --push origin git@original/repo.git
$ git remote set-url --add --push origin git@second/repo.git
$ git remote set-url --add --push origin git@third/repo.git

And now, if you run git remote

$ git remote
origin git@original/repo.git (fetch)
origin git@original/repo.git (push)
origin git@second/repo.git (push)
origin git@third/repo.git (push)

And voila, when you now run git push you will push to all three remotes with just one command!

Move your .gitconfig

It's possible to move your config to the XDG Base Directory (XDG_CONFIG_HOME), which usually is ~/.config.

You can move your .gitconfig there by;

$ mkdir -p ~/.config/git
$ mv ~/.gitconfig ~/.config/git/config

I moved all my configurations there, and have my main gitconfig there along with my personal- and work-configurations. This might be a personal preference thing, but I like to keep my home directory as small as possible.

Global .gitignore

You can specify your own global .gitignore file in case you forget to ignore some files a project or something.

Within your config;

  excludesfile = <path-to-ignore-file>

If you've followed the previous tip, you could use the path ~/.config/git/ignore.

Commit messages

Good commit messages are vital for when newcomers join your project and whenever you need to look back at what you've previously done.

You can think of a commit message like an email or message with a title and body.

The first line of a commit message should always be written in present-tense, never contain a period and not exceed 50 characters, the first line is like a title to what the commit is about. The second line should be blank and the third line and so on is a more descriptive (can contain details etc.).

An example could be like this (good);

$ git commit -m 'Add delete function' \
  -m 'Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.'

And what not to do (bad);

$ git commit -m 'Added delete function' \
  -m 'Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.'

Bonus: Useful aliases

Here is some of my useful aliases that are not that straight forward;

  pnew = !git push --set-upstream origin $(git branch --show-current) # Pushes a newly created branch to the remote(s)

  l = log --all --color --graph --pretty=format:'%Cred%h%Creset %G?%C(yellow)%d%Creset %s %Cgreen(%cr) %C(bold blue)<%an>%Creset' --abbrev-commit # Colorful and easy to read log

  cleanup = "!git branch --merged | grep  -v '\\*\\|main\\|master\\|develop\\|production' | xargs -n 1 git branch -d" # Deletes all merged local branches
  cleanupb = "!git branch -r --merged | grep  -v '\\*\\|main\\|master\\|develop\\|production' | xargs -n 1 git branch -r -d" # Deletes all merged remote branches

I hope you learned something new! I want to write more about some of my configurations from my dotfiles.

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