Git - Quick Start

[Updated: Oct 30, 2018, Created: Oct 29, 2018]

This tutorial will quickly walk through the basics of Git.

What is Git?

Git is a distributed version-control system. In a distributed version-control system a developer follows the following workflow:

  • The distributed repository is cloned (pulled) by every developer. A developer clones it from another developer or from a central location (if there are a lot of developers then a central location is preferred).
  • Once a developer has made a group of changes by committing changes to the local repository, he/she then pushes the changes to another developer or to the central location. Another developer can also pull your commits to see the changes.
  • A developer updates her/his local repository by merging it with the pulled commits. Git attempts to merge changes automatically, if there are conflicts then the developer resolves them manually.

This tutorial shows how to create a new repository and use the basic git commands.

Downloading and installing

Follow this quick tutorial to install Git on Windows. On Linux, git can be install by the following command:

sudo apt install git

Working with Git

Creating new repository

New repository can be created by command:

git init

Let's create an example directory 'example-project':

D:>mkdir example-project
D:>cd example-project

Creating git repository

D:\example-project>git init
Initialized empty Git repository in D:/example-project/.git
D:\example-project>dir /a /b

The folder .git is where the repository is stored. It contains the database of all metadata and version history etc.

Checking status

Following command shows working tree status. It also suggests the possible actions to perform next:

git status
D:\example-project>git status
On branch master

No commits yet

nothing to commit (create/copy files and use "git add" to track)

Adding new files

A new file can be added to git by using:

git add <theFile>

Above command does not commit the file but adds it to the git's staging area. When a file is in staging area Git tracks that file.

Adding a new file 'myfile.txt':

D:\example-project>echo hello> myfile.txt

Adding the file to the git:

D:\example-project>git add myfile.txt

Checking status again:

D:\example-project>git status
On branch master

No commits yet

Changes to be committed:
(use "git rm --cached <file>..." to unstage)

new file: myfile.txt

Listing files managed by git

git ls-files
D:\example-project>git ls-files

Commit changes

To commit changes to local repository:

git commit -m "my change description"
D:\example-project>git commit -m "first change"

*** Please tell me who you are.


git config --global ""
git config --global "Your Name"

to set your account's default identity.
Omit --global to set the identity only in this repository.

fatal: unable to auto-detect email address (got 'Joe@JoeMchn.(none)')

If this is the first time your are committing, you will get the above message and commit will fail. Follow the instructions and enter your name and email address:

D:\example-project>git config --global "Joe"
D:\example-project>git config --global ""

Commit again:

D:\example-project>git commit -m "first change"
[master (root-commit) 7871adb] first change
1 file changed, 1 insertion(+)
create mode 100644 myfile.txt

Checking status:

D:\example-project>git status
On branch master
nothing to commit, working tree clean

Commit history

git log
D:\example-project>git log
commit 7871adb4fc2f76a84d27f4cb53b6dfafcdccadd2
Author: Joe <>
Date: Mon Oct 29 22:01:54 2018 -0500

first change

Make more changes

D:\example-project>echo more text >> myfile.txt

Viewing difference

git diff <file-name>
D:\example-project>git diff myfile.txt
diff --git a/myfile.txt b/myfile.txt
index ce01362..f038e11 100644
--- a/myfile.txt
+++ b/myfile.txt
@@ -1 +1,2 @@
+more text

Checking status:

D:\example-project>git status
On branch master
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: myfile.txt

no changes added to commit (use "git add" and/or "git commit -a")

Adding to git:

D:\example-project>git add myfile.txt


D:\example-project>git status
On branch master
Changes to be committed:
(use "git reset HEAD <file>..." to unstage)

modified: myfile.txt


D:\example-project>git commit -m "second change"
[master 5a7738c] second change
1 file changed, 1 insertion(+)


D:\example-project>git log
commit 5a7738c59c83eed6e272817c6fb296ae0925a123
Author: Joe <>
Date: Mon Oct 29 22:02:33 2018 -0500

second change

commit 7871adb4fc2f76a84d27f4cb53b6dfafcdccadd2
Author: Joe <>
Date: Mon Oct 29 22:01:54 2018 -0500

first change

Git Help

git help
D:\example-project>git help
usage: git [--version] [--help] [-C <path>] [-c <name>=<value>]
[--exec-path[=<path>]] [--html-path] [--man-path] [--info-path]
[-p | --paginate | -P | --no-pager] [--no-replace-objects] [--bare]
[--git-dir=<path>] [--work-tree=<path>] [--namespace=<name>]
<command> [<args>]

These are common Git commands used in various situations:

start a working area (see also: git help tutorial)
clone Clone a repository into a new directory
init Create an empty Git repository or reinitialize an existing one

work on the current change (see also: git help everyday)
add Add file contents to the index
mv Move or rename a file, a directory, or a symlink
reset Reset current HEAD to the specified state
rm Remove files from the working tree and from the index

examine the history and state (see also: git help revisions)
bisect Use binary search to find the commit that introduced a bug
grep Print lines matching a pattern
log Show commit logs
show Show various types of objects
status Show the working tree status

grow, mark and tweak your common history
branch List, create, or delete branches
checkout Switch branches or restore working tree files
commit Record changes to the repository
diff Show changes between commits, commit and working tree, etc
merge Join two or more development histories together
rebase Reapply commits on top of another base tip
tag Create, list, delete or verify a tag object signed with GPG

collaborate (see also: git help workflows)
fetch Download objects and refs from another repository
pull Fetch from and integrate with another repository or a local branch
push Update remote refs along with associated objects

'git help -a' and 'git help -g' list available subcommands and some
concept guides. See 'git help <command>' or 'git help <concept>'
to read about a specific subcommand or concept.

To list all git commands:

git help -a
D:\example-project>git help -a
usage: git [--version] [--help] [-C <path>] [-c <name>=<value>]
[--exec-path[=<path>]] [--html-path] [--man-path] [--info-path]
[-p | --paginate | -P | --no-pager] [--no-replace-objects] [--bare]
[--git-dir=<path>] [--work-tree=<path>] [--namespace=<name>]
<command> [<args>]

available git commands in 'D:/Program Files/Git/mingw64/libexec/git-core'

add get-tar-commit-id rebase--interactive
add--interactive grep receive-pack
am gui reflog
annotate gui--askpass remote
apply gui--askyesno remote-ext
archive gui.tcl remote-fd
askpass hash-object remote-ftp
bisect help remote-ftps
bisect--helper http-backend remote-http
blame http-fetch remote-https
branch http-push repack
bundle imap-send replace
cat-file index-pack request-pull
check-attr init rerere
check-ignore init-db reset
check-mailmap instaweb rev-list
check-ref-format interpret-trailers rev-parse
checkout legacy-rebase revert
checkout-index legacy-stash rm
cherry log send-email
cherry-pick ls-files send-pack
citool ls-remote serve
clean ls-tree sh-i18n--envsubst
clone mailinfo shortlog
column mailsplit show
commit merge show-branch
commit-graph merge-base show-index
commit-tree merge-file show-ref
config merge-index stage
count-objects merge-octopus stash
credential merge-one-file status
credential-manager merge-ours stripspace
credential-store merge-recursive submodule
credential-wincred merge-resolve submodule--helper
cvsexportcommit merge-subtree subtree
cvsimport merge-tree svn
daemon mergetool symbolic-ref
describe mktag tag
diff mktree unpack-file
diff-files mv unpack-objects
diff-index name-rev update
diff-tree notes update-git-for-windows
difftool p4 update-index
difftool--helper pack-objects update-ref
fast-export pack-redundant update-server-info
fast-import pack-refs upload-archive
fetch patch-id upload-pack
fetch-pack prune var
filter-branch prune-packed verify-commit
fmt-merge-msg pull verify-pack
for-each-ref push verify-tag
format-patch quiltimport web--browse
fsck range-diff whatchanged
fsck-objects read-tree worktree
gc rebase write-tree

git commands available from elsewhere on your $PATH

flow lfs

'git help -a' and 'git help -g' list available subcommands and some
concept guides. See 'git help <command>' or 'git help <concept>'
to read about a specific subcommand or concept.

To get help on a particular command, use --help option

D:\example-project>git help --help

That opens a help web page:

D:\example-project>git ls-files --help
D:\example-project>git commit --help

See Also