18.6. Git Tips

Now that we know about branches, we should definitely use them often. Keeping the core, working code in main and growing that code in branches is a very strong technique.

This page explores some details that often come up as we work with branches.

18.6.1. Git Stash

It happens to the best of us. We get a great idea for our project, and we dive into creating the new code. Things are going well, until we realize that we put our brilliant idea in the wrong branch of the repo! Lines and lines of new code, all in the wrong place.

Of course Git offers us a way to remove the new work from the current branch and move it into another. The command for this is called git stash.


git stash will only save our butts if we have NOT committed the new changes to the repo yet. This is why we should always use git status to check things out before using the add and commit commands. Try It!

Imagine that you want to add a few more lines to the text file in the make-conflict branch.

  1. Return to the main branch in the git_practice repo.

  2. Add new lines to conflict_demo.txt and save the file.

  3. Type git status in the terminal. The first line of the output tells us that we’re in the wrong branch. We want to be in make-conflict, not main!

    $ git status
    On branch main
    Changes not staged for commit:
       (use "git add <file>..." to update what will be committed)
       (use "git checkout -- <file>..." to discard changes in working directory)
       modified:   conflict_demo.txt
  4. Enter git stash in the terminal and notice how the changes made in the text file disappear. Those changes are stored by Git, but they are no longer in main. Entering git status again shows a clean branch.

  5. Use git checkout to move into the make-conflict branch. Follow this with the git stash pop command.

    $ git checkout make-conflict
    Switched to branch 'make-conflict'
    $ git stash pop
    On branch make-conflict
    Changes not staged for commit:
       (use "git add <file>..." to update what will be committed)
       (use "git checkout -- <file>..." to discard changes in working directory)
          modified:   conflict_demo.txt
    no changes added to commit (use "git add" and/or "git commit -a")
    Dropped refs/stash@{0} (dedea22f5c66ef992103fcc82d7eaed82d4463f5)
  6. Aha! The changes we made in main appear in the make-conflict branch. We can use status/add/commit to add them to the repository.

stash is similar to the append list method in Python. We don’t need to know the complete details for how it works, but we can imagine that stash takes a snapshot of the branch. It then returns the branch to the state of the last commit.

stash pop takes the snapshot and applies it to the current branch.

18.6.2. Deleting a Branch

Imagine that we finish our work in a branch and successfully merge it into main. Now that the code exists in main, we might not need the old branch anymore. To delete a branch, the terminal syntax is:

git branch -d branch-name

If the branch contains changes that haven’t been merged yet, Git gives us an error message and keeps the branch intact. Git will also provide a helpful clue about how to remove the branch anyway, if we really want to go through with that action.


Deleting a local branch cannot be undone!


Let’s delete hello-branch from the git_practice repository:

$ git branch
* make-conflict
$ git branch -d hello-branch
Deleted branch hello-branch (was d99e424).
$ git branch
* make-conflict

18.6.3. Git More Information

If you would like to explore additional discussions, tutorials, and videos about Git, here are some resources you can explore on your own:

  1. What is Version Control

  2. Git branches

  3. Git video tutorial (24 topics to choose from)

  4. Official Git documentation