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My first git alias

xjamundx profile image Jamund Ferguson ・2 min read

At work I'm often jumping back and forth between various branches and pull requests and I sometimes find myself struggling to remember the name of a recent branch I need to use.

For years I've used git reflog as a short-cut to look at my git history and identify my recent work. It works okay, but it's very hard to make sense of:

git reflog output

Other times I try to use git branch, but that doesn't give you much context about anything and of course it can be easy to drown in the large number of branches:

~/d/n/webapp (typescript ✔) git branch
  add-cognito-auth
  doritos
  eslint-prettier
  main
* typescript
  updated-husky
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Recently I got frustrated by this and decided to find a solution and stumbled on this stackoverflow question, How can I get a list of git branches ordered by most recent commit?, which taught me two really useful techniques.

  1. You can sort branches by commit date using git branch --sort=-committerdate which is great in an of itself (watch out for the - after sort= which puts the most recent branches first)
  2. You can enhance this output a bit using this wild syntax git branch --sort=-committerdate --format='%(HEAD)%(color:yellow)%(refname:short) | %(color:bold green)%(committerdate:relative) | %(color:blue)%(subject)%(color:reset)' --color=always which I'm never going to remember.

Which led me to create my first git alias after over 12 years of using it. Here's how I did it and here's what it looks like:

git config --global alias.branches "branch --sort=-committerdate --format='%(HEAD)%(color:yellow)%(refname:short) | %(color:bold green)%(committerdate:relative) | %(color:blue)%(subject)%(color:reset)' --color=always"
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That command added this to the boottom of my ~/.gitconfig file:

[alias]
        branches = branch --sort=-committerdate --format='%(HEAD)%(color:yellow)
%(refname:short) | %(color:bold green)%(committerdate:relative) | %(color:blue)%(subject)%(color:reset)' --color=always
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Now when I type git branches I see this lovely output:
nicely formatted git branch list

Git isn't always the easiest to use, but this alias has made it just a little bit better, for me anyway. What kind of aliases do you use?

Discussion (5)

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franaguiar profile image
Francisco Aguiar

Looks pretty good, I will add it to my .gitconfig

I have several for repetitive small commands, for example, I have one to avoid type git push origin branchName, I just type git ps, and the same for pull with git pl

Another one to fetch origin and prune, git fp.

I liked yours, thanks

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tyler36 profile image
tyler36

Sometimes I just wanna reset everything and start fresh

## Hard reset git - !DANGER
alias nah='git reset --hard && git clean -df'
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jessekphillips profile image
Jesse Phillips

This does look like a good one. I also have one alias which I created somewhat on the recent side.

git commit --fixup -> git fixup

It is a small change but it is nice.

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edm00se profile image
Eric McCormick

Nice! I'm pretty sure I'll be using this with some frequency.

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reshalem profile image
M. Ali Setia Pratama

Great and useful trick! Question, can I change the color with hex value?