gitcli — Git command-line interface and conventions




This manual describes the convention used throughout Git CLI.

Many commands take revisions (most often "commits", but sometimes "tree-ish", depending on the context and command) and paths as their arguments. Here are the rules:

Here are the rules regarding the "flags" that you should follow when you are scripting Git:

Enhanced Option Parser

From the Git 1.5.4 series and further, many Git commands (not all of them at the time of the writing though) come with an enhanced option parser.

Here is a list of the facilities provided by this option parser.

Magic Options

Commands which have the enhanced option parser activated all understand a couple of magic command-line options:


gives a pretty printed usage of the command.

$ git describe -h
usage: git describe [<options>] <commit-ish>*
   or: git describe [<options>] --dirty

    --contains            find the tag that comes after the commit
    --debug               debug search strategy on stderr
    --all                 use any ref
    --tags                use any tag, even unannotated
    --long                always use long format
    --abbrev[=<n>]        use <n> digits to display SHA-1s

Some Git commands take options that are only used for plumbing or that are deprecated, and such options are hidden from the default usage. This option gives the full list of options.

Negating options

Options with long option names can be negated by prefixing --no-. For example, git branch has the option --track which is on by default. You can use --no-track to override that behaviour. The same goes for --color and --no-color.

Aggregating short options

Commands that support the enhanced option parser allow you to aggregate short options. This means that you can for example use git rm -rf or git clean -fdx.

Abbreviating long options

Commands that support the enhanced option parser accepts unique prefix of a long option as if it is fully spelled out, but use this with a caution. For example, git commit --amen behaves as if you typed git commit --amend, but that is true only until a later version of Git introduces another option that shares the same prefix, e.g. git commit --amenity option.

Separating argument from the option

You can write the mandatory option parameter to an option as a separate word on the command line. That means that all the following uses work:

$ git foo --long-opt=Arg
$ git foo --long-opt Arg
$ git foo -oArg
$ git foo -o Arg

However, this is NOT allowed for switches with an optional value, where the stuck form must be used:

$ git describe --abbrev HEAD     # correct
$ git describe --abbrev=10 HEAD  # correct
$ git describe --abbrev 10 HEAD  # NOT WHAT YOU MEANT

Notes on Frequently Confused Options

Many commands that can work on files in the working tree and/or in the index can take --cached and/or --index options. Sometimes people incorrectly think that, because the index was originally called cache, these two are synonyms. They are not — these two options mean very different things.

git apply command can be used with --cached and --index (but not at the same time). Usually the command only affects the files in the working tree, but with --index, it patches both the files and their index entries, and with --cached, it modifies only the index entries.

See also and for further information.

Some other commands that also work on files in the working tree and/or in the index can take --staged and/or --worktree.


Part of the git(1) suite

Referenced By

git(1), gitk(1), git-rev-parse(1).

11/04/2019 Git 2.24.0 Git Manual