In the words of American motivational writer William Arthur Ward “to make mistakes is human; to stumble is commonplace; to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity”. Not all mistakes in life are easy to recover from, but the main goal of technology development is to make the world less tangled. Troubles could appear from human error or hardware malfunction, so you should be prepared to deal with them in the most efficient way. To meet your needs we created a list of 13 handy tips to undo mistakes in Git in an effortless way. 

#1 Discarding local changes

Sometimes not everything is going according to plan. Let’s suppose that you have a rough day at work and accidentally saved changes with some mistakes. There’s nothing to worry about! If you are wondering “how do I discard changes in my working copy”, you didn’t commit changes yet and want to go back to the previous state of that file, use:

git checkout -- <filename>

The changes you’ve made to the file will be replaced with the most recent version previously known to Git. Make sure you really want to do it, because after that command changes are gone for good. Either way, It is a very useful tool to know.

#2 Undo committed changes

Similar case to the previous one, but you already committed changes and only now see that something is wrong. Do not panic, just type:

git revert <commit>

The above command is used to reverse the effects from the last commit. It’s safe to use because it creates an opposite commit and does not override Git history. 

#3 Reset local changes

In this case, you made commits locally and did not push changes yet. Now you see that not everything seems to be OK, so you want to undo a couple of commits to the last good version. 

git reset <wanted SHA version>

Git reset command simply rewinds the repository’s history to the chosen SHA version, so commits made after it is no longer applied. They are gone, but the contents are still on the disk.


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#4 Change the last commit message

If you made a typo in the last commit message and you don’t want to feel embarrassed about it, there’s a quick fix. Nobody needs to know, just use this command:

git commit --amend

After that, your last commit message will be updated and replaced.

#5 Switch a commit to a different branch

Branch names are usually pretty similar, so it is not unusual to get them twisted. If you made a commit to the wrong one and want to apply it to the correct one, here is a useful command: 

git cherry-pick <commit>

You can select a commit from one branch and apply it to another using cherry-pick. Make sure you’re on the branch you want to apply the commit to before starting the process. Remember to delete the commit from the branch you applied it to by mistake

#6 Restore a deleted branch

Mixing branch names could also resolve in deleting the wrong one. So when that happens you are safe and prepared by having this command in your repertoire:

git checkout -b <branch> <sha>

Check one of our older articles to learn more about how restoring deleted branch in Bitbucket go. 

#7 Stop tracking a tracked file

You mistakenly added application.log to the repository, and now Git indicates that there are unstaged changes in application.log every time you run the application. How can you tell git to “undo” tracking changes in this file if you placed *.log in the.gitignore file but it’s still there?

git rm --cached application.log

While.gitignore stops Git from monitoring changes to files or even discovering the existence of files it hasn’t previously monitored, once a file has been added and committed, Git will continue to notice changes to that file.

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#8 Reviewing old commits

Any version control system is designed to store “safe” copies of a project so that you never have to worry about damaging your code base irrevocably. You may examine and revisit any commit in a project’s history once you’ve built up a history of commits. The git log command is one of the greatest tools for examining the history of a Git repository.

git log --oneline

By default, git log only shows commits for the branch that is presently chosen.

#9 The staging index

To add updates to the staging index, use the git add command. Git reset is mostly used to revert changes to the staging index. Any pending modifications from the staging index will be moved back into the working directory with a —mixed reset.

#10 Restoring a deleted file (before commit)

It’s quite unusual to lose your files on Git after committing your work. To completely lose a file on Git, you must delete your whole local repository and have no backup on the remote server.

What if you erased a file without saving it and then realized you’d made a mistake? Simply type the following command:

git checkout HEAD <filename>

How to restore deleted files in a git repository? The answer to this question you will also find in one of our previews texts. 

#11 Restoring a deleted file (after commit)

This solution is for when you accidentally deleted a file, committed the deletion, and then realized you needed it. You’ll need to reboot your computer to restore this file. This reset will put you back in the state you were in before you committed. Before running the command, keep in mind that the ‘Hard’ directive on the code will overwrite any modifications made to the file after the commit. This approach assumes that you have not uploaded your file to a remote site.

et --hard HEAD~1

#12 Deleting Old Commits

There exists a safe way of deleting a commit in the middle of the history: using the git revert command. It adds a new commit, which undoes everything the middle commit has changed.

git revert <sha1-commit-hash>

#13 GitHub – backup all your data

To be sure that more costly mistakes made by outside providers and human error are reversible, use GitProtect solutions. A reliable backup plan suited for your company’s or/and personal need could save you time and loads of stress. GitHub backup is really helpful while you are dealing with:

  • HEAD overwrite, branch deletion, old repository deletion, hardware failure, and other human or technical issues
  • Service providers delete data by accident.
  • Ransomware assaults have wiped all the content of repositories
  • And many other cases.

Summary 

Unfortunately, we all know that we cannot avoid mistakes. Trial and error are curial in the development process of the product and engineer career. No matter how great a programmer we are, we’ll slip up sometimes. The main question, therefore, is not if we make mistakes, but rather how well we can deal with them and fix the problems we are facing? Fortunately, Git offers a series of methods for undoing and recovering from both minor and major errors. Gather knowledge from your mistakes without the consequences of them dragging you down using this tutorial. 

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