Fixing Git mistakes
List everything across every branch

Fixing Git mistakes

13 minutos

More often than not, if protocol is followed and we make sure to take good care of files and repo, things should run smoothly.

Nonetheless, we will face problems and complications along the way, either if working on a very big project or on a shared project with more people.

List everything across every branch

If you are not sure of how bad your mistake was, the priority should be finding that out. Besides the command git log that outputs all the commits on current branch, there is another command which will list everything you have done at any branch:

git reflog

Accidentally added file

If you have accidentally added a file to the stanging area, for instance if you have added a lot of changes with a command such as git add ., you can easily unstage a file with

git restore --staged <file>


One of the best ways of fixing a mistake is not having it in the first place, so here's a great beginner tip for some mistake prevention.

Sometimes there are files we must have in our directory, but do not want to have commited on the final repository or uploaded anywhere in the cloud.This includes files and folder such as .DS_Store, __pycache__/, sensitive information such as passwords and any other thing you want there.

The solution for this is quite easy, just create a file called .gitignore and list all files you wish to be ignored by Git. These will not figure as untracked files, changes files, etc.

That only works for files that have never been commited to your repo. If you wish to ignore files that were commited to the repo, you must first delete them from it. You can do that with the command:

git rm --cached <file>

This will delete the file from the repo, but keep it in your Working Directory.

You can even use an assistant tool to generate a .gitignore for your OS, language, etc.

Amend a commit

If you've just commited something and realize you mised a file or small change, you can fix the previous commit instead of making a new commit. Just add the changes and execute the command:

git commit --amend --no-file

NEVER amend a public commit, or a commit you have pushed into a public repo. There may be harsh consequeneces. If it was pushed somewhere, suck it up and make a new commit.

Fix commit message

If you wish to fix or change the last commit message, you can also do that with the --amend option:

git commit --amend -m "<new_message>"

Changing further in the past

Sometimes the mistakes we make must it so that we need to change the past, not what we have imediatelly done.

Reverting Commit

If you wish to undo a particular commit, you can use git log to find the hash for that commit. The hash is a long sequence of numbers and letters that uniquely identify each commit.

Then use

git revert <commit_hash>

and Git will create a new commit undoing the hashed commit.

Revert a single file

If you wish to revert a single file to a previous state, the procedure will be a little different. You'll still have to find and copy the hash for the commit. After that, use the file path on

git git checkout <commit_hash> -- <path/to/file>

Going back in time

Sometimes, though, depending on how hard we have screwed up, reverting a commit might not be enough. Were this to happen, we could try a different solution, such as cancelling a whole lot of commits and reseting back to a previous point. This will make as if the commits after that point had never happened.

There are 3 ways of doing a reset in Git. All of them will change the current branch on your repo back to the commit you chose. The difference is the way each option will treat the changes.


If we use

git reset --soft <commit_hash>

our branch will be restored to that commit, and the changes will be uncommited, they will remain as staged changes. That means if we were to do a commit again, we will chave those changes on the repo once again.


Changing soft for mixed will have a slight change. In this case, the changes will be uncommited and unstaged, leaving them on the working directory only, which means that to be commited once again, you'd have to add them once more before committing.


The third and last method of resetting is the hard reset, which will uncommit, unstage and delete all changes. This takes your repo back to the commit you chose and permanently deletes all changes that had been done. It is a very delicate operation and should be executed carefully.

Final Consideration

As seen previously, git can help us a lot in fixing possible mistakes, but the tools can only take us so far. The best to keep it all safe it practising good measures throughout the development.

  • Keep the Single Responsability Principle

  • Make clean, single-purpose commits

  • Write meaningful and clear commit messages

  • Commit often

  • Use branches, do not commit everything to master

Also, take in account somethings we will se on the next section:

  • Use a branching methodology

  • Rebase frequently

En esta página
List everything across every branchAccidentally added file.gitignoreAmend a commitFix commit messageChanging further in the pastReverting CommitRevert a single fileGoing back in timeFinal Consideration
Actualizado 18 jun 2022
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