git pull updates your current local working branch and all of the remote tracking branches. It’s a good idea to run
git pull regularly on the branches you are working on locally.
git pull, (or the effect of it,) your local branch wouldn’t have any of the updates that are present on the remote.
git pull Do?
git pull is one of the 4 remote operations within Git. Without running
git pull, your local repository will never be updated with changes from the remote.
git pull should be used every day you interact with a repository with a remote, at the minimum. That’s why
git pull is one of the most used Git commands.
git pull and
git pull, a combination of
git fetch +
git merge, updates some parts of your local repository with changes from the remote repository. To understand what is and isn’t affected by
git pull, you need to first understand the concept of remote tracking branches. When you clone a repository, you clone one working branch,
main, and all of the remote tracking branches.
git fetch updates the remote tracking branches.
git merge will update your current branch with any new commits on the remote tracking branch.
git pull is the most common way to update your repository.
However, you may want to use
git fetch instead. One reason to do this may be that you expect conflicts. Conflicts can occur in this way if you have new local commits and new commits on the remote. Just like a merge conflict that would happen between two different branches, these two different lines of history could contain changes to the same parts of the same file. If you first operate
git fetch, the merge won’t be initiated, and you won’t be prompted to solve the conflict. This gives you the flexibility to resolve the conflict later without the need for network connectivity.
Another reason you may want to run
git fetch is to update to all remote tracking branches before losing network connectivity. If you run
git fetch, and then later try to run
git pull without any network connectivity, the
git fetch portion of the
git pull operation will fail.
If you do use
git fetch instead of
git pull, make sure you remember to
git merge. Merging the remote tracking branch into your own branch ensures you will be working with any updates or changes.
How to Use
Common usages and options for
git pull: Update your local working branch with commits from the remote, and update all remote tracking branches.
git pull --rebase: Update your local working branch with commits from the remote, but rewrite history so any local commits occur after all new commits coming from the remote, avoiding a merge commit.
git pull --force: This option allows you to force a fetch of a specific remote tracking branch when using the
<refspec>option that would otherwise not be fetched due to conflicts. To force Git to overwrite your current branch to match the remote tracking branch, read below about using
git pull --all: Fetch all remotes – this is handy if you are working on a fork or in another use case with multiple remotes.
You can see all of the many options with
git pull in git-scm’s documentation.
Working on a Branch
If you’re already working on a branch, it is a good idea to run
git pull before starting work and introducing new commits. Even if you take a small break from development, there’s a chance that one of your collaborators has made changes to your branch. This change could even come from updating your branch with new changes from
It is always a good idea to run
git status – especially before
git pull. Changes that are not committed can be overwritten during a
git pull. Or, they can block the
git merge portion of the
git pull from executing. If you have files that are changed, but not committed, and the changes on the remote also change those same parts of the same file, Git must make a choice. Since they are not committed changes, there is no possibility for a merge conflict. Git will either overwrite the changes in your working or staging directories, or the
merge will not complete, and you will not be able to include any of the updates from the remote.
If this happens, use
git status to identify what changes are causing the problem. Either delete or commit those changes, then
git pull or
git merge again.
main up to date
main branch up to date is generally a good idea.
For example, let’s say you have cloned a repository. After you clone, someone merges a branch into main. Then, you’d like to create a new branch to do some work. If you create your branch off of
main before operating
git pull, your branch will not have the most recent changes. You could accidentally introduce a conflict or duplicate changes. By running
git pull before you create a branch, you can be sure that you will be working with the most recent information.
To effectively “undo” a
git pull, you cannot undo the
git fetch – but you can undo the
git merge that changed your local working branch.
To do this, you will need to
git reset to the commit you made before you merged. You can find this commit by searching the
git reflog. The reflog is a log of every place that HEAD has pointed – every place that you have ever been checked out to. This reflog is only kept for 30 to 90 days, depending on the commit, and is only stored locally. (The reflog is a great reason not to delete a repository if you think you’ve made a mistake!)
git reflog and search for the commit that you would like to return to. Then, run
git reset --hard <SHA> to reset HEAD and your current branch to the SHA of the commit from before the merge.
git pull to Overwrite Local Files
If you have made commits locally that you regret, you may want your local branch to match the remote branch without saving any of your work. This can be done using
git reset. First, make sure you have the most recent copy of that remote tracking branch by fetching.
git fetch <remote> <branch>
git fetch origin main
git reset --hard to move the HEAD pointer and the current branch pointer to the most recent commit as it exists on that remote tracking branch.
git reset --hard <remote>/<branch>
git reset --hard origin/main
_Note: You can find the remotes with
git remote -v, and see all available remote tracking branches with
git branch --all.
git pull with Rebase
If there have been new commits on both your local branch and the remote branch, a merge commit will be created when you
git pull. This recursive merge is the default merge style when there are two splits in history being brought together. But, you may want history on a branch to be only one line.
You can update your local working branch with commits from the remote, but rewrite history so any local commits occur after all new commits coming from the remote, avoiding a merge commit.
This is done with
git pull --rebase.
git pull --rebase does not affect the integrity of the changes or the commits, but it does affect how history looks in the commit parent/child relationship.
git clone [url]: Clone (download) a repository that already exists on GitHub, including all of the files, branches, and commits.
git status: Always a good idea, this command shows you what branch you’re on, what files are in the working or staging directory, and any other important information.
git branch: This shows the existing branches in your local repository. You can also use
git branch [banch-name]to create a branch from your current location, or
git branch --allto see all branches, both the local ones on your machine, and the remote tracking branches stored from the last
git fetchfrom the remote.
git push: Uploads all local branch commits to the remote.
git log: Browse and inspect the evolution of project files.
git remote -v: Show the associated remote repositories and their stored name, like