10 Top Git Commands and How to Use Them

10 Top Git Commands and How to Use Them


In the world of software development, Git has revolutionized the way developers collaborate and manage their projects. From open-source projects to enterprise applications, Git has become an essential part of the modern software development workflow. Without Git, many developers would find collaboration much more difficult and would be left without any straightforward version control system. This would mean constantly dealing with accidental overwriting, losing files, and staying up all night, having to redo work. Furthermore, a world without Git would be a world without Git branching. Branching is a critical feature that makes it simple to break up large-scale projects into smaller pieces that can be tested before being pushed live. It’s clear why Git has become such an integral part of modern-day software-engineering practices.

What is Git?

Git (not to be mistaken for GitHub—read about the difference here) is a powerful version control system that allows software developers to track and manage changes in their code. Understanding Git and how to take advantage of git commands is an essential skill for any developer. With Git, you can easily keep track of all the changes you make to your code and collaborate with other developers on the same project.

Git allows developers to store their code in a central repository that can be accessed by anyone who has permission. This makes it easier for teams to collaborate on projects without having to worry about overwriting each other’s work or losing important files. With Git, all changes are tracked and stored in the repository, so if something goes wrong, you can always go back to a previous version of your code.

Git provides a wide range of commands and tools that help developers keep their projects organized and efficient. Today, we’re going to give you a high-level overview of how to utilize Git, as well as break down the top ten Git commands you need to know.

How to use Git

Git is one of the tools that developers use every single day. In six steps, you can get Git deployed on your system and start incorporating it into your software development workflow.

Step 1: Install Git


The first step is to install Git on your computer. You can download it from the official website (https://git-scm.com/downloads). Once downloaded, run the installer and follow the instructions provided until it’s finished installing.

Step 2: Create a Repository


A repository (or “repo”) is where your project files will live in Git. To create one, open up your terminal or command line interface (CLI) and navigate to the directory where you want your repo to live. Then type “git init” followed by the name of your project folder – this will create an empty repository in that location.

Step 3: Add Files


Now that you have an empty repository set up, it’s time to add some files! To do this, simply copy or move any existing project files into the repo directory – these will now be tracked by Git when you make changes going forward. If you don’t have any existing project files yet, just create some blank ones inside the repo directory instead – these will also be tracked by Git when they’re changed later on down the line.  

Step 4: Commit Changes


Once you’ve added some files to your repo, it’s time to commit them so they can be tracked by Git! To do this, open up your CLI again and navigate back into your repo directory if necessary (you can use “cd [directory]”). Then type “git add .” followed by “git commit -m [message]” where [message] is whatever message you’d like associated with this commit (e.g., “Initial commit”). This will save all of your changes so far in one place for future reference if needed!  

Step 5: Push Your Changes


Now that all of your changes are committed locally on your computer, it’s time to push them up into remote repositories such as GitHub (read: What Is GitHub and How Do You Use It?) or Bitbucket so other people can access them too! To do this, open up another CLI window and type “git push origin master,” followed by whatever credentials are required for authentication purposes depending on which service provider you’re using (e.g., GitHub username/password). This will upload all of your committed changes into remote repositories so others can access them as well.

Step 6: Pull Requests & Merging Branches 


Finally, once other people have made their own commits into remote repositories too (either via pull requests or merging branches), it’s vital that everyone keeps their local copies of those repos updated with those latest changes as well! To do this, simply type “git pull origin master” in another CLI window while still inside the same repo directory – this will download any new commits from remote repositories onto your local machine so everyone has an identical copy of everything.

It’s that simple. By following these six steps, you can get started with Git. To go deeper into how to use Git. Now, let’s define the most critical git commands.

The Top 10 Git Commands

#1: “git status”


This simple command provides a number of details about the current branch. These details include the update status of the branch and whether or not there’s anything to commit, push, or pull. This also shows any other changes that have been staged, such as files staged or files created/modified/deleted.

#2: “git show”


Usage: git show [commit]

This command is used to display metadata for a specified commit.

#3: “git init”


Usage: git init [repository name]

This is the command for starting a new repository.

#4: “git commit”


Usage: git commit -m “[Type in the commit message]”

Use the “commit” command to save a copy of the file in the version history of the project.

#5: “git branch”


Usage: git branch

When your command line is located in a particular repository, you can use “git branch” to see a list of all the local branches in that current repository.

#6: “git add”


Usage: git add [file]

A command for adding a file to the staging area.

#7: “git pull”


Usage: git pull [repository link]

This command is a vital tool for remote collaboration. You can use “git pull” to bring changes to the file on the remote server into your current working directory and merge them with your local project.

#8: “git push”


Usage: git push [variable name] master / git push [variable name] branch / git push -all [variable name] / git push [variable name] :[branch name]

Git push is the command developers use to send their local changes to the remote repository. Depending on which version of the usage you utilize, you can commit just the current branch, or the entire master branch to your remote repository. You can also push all branches, or even delete a branch using this command.

#9: “git revert”


Usage: git revert [hash code of the specific commit to be undone]

A command that can be used in conjunction with “git log” to find a specific change (commit) and remove it from the repository. A method of undoing a mistake.

#10: “git log”


Usage: git log

A straightforward method to display the version history for the current branch.

Final Thoughts

We’ve just scratched the surface by exploring some of the basic git commands. However, there are many more git command examples we could have covered. A few that come to mind include the “git branch,” “git checkout,” and “git merge” commands, all of which are useful for managing Git branches. Learning how to use git commands, like pretty much everything else with programming and software development, is achieved over time through practical experience. Aside from these top git commands, there are several other essential git commands that you will discover and utilize as you progress through your software development career.

If you’re new to coding and these commands and concepts aren’t making sense, that’s okay. Because of their immense value to programmers, if you choose to attend a Devmountain bootcamp such as Web Development, Python, or Java, you’ll get a deep dive into Git and Git commands.

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