(Updated: )
/ #git #web development #productivity 

Split an existing git commit

One of git’s main differences when compared to other version control systems is that it lets the user rewrite the history. The main way to do this is to use git rebase, usually followed by a git push --``force to overwrite history the remote with the local history.

Here’s a look at how to split existing commits using rebase, reset and commit.

Say you have two files edited in a commit (A and B) and you would like to get the changes from one of those files (A) into your current branch but not those from the other (B).

Using git cherry-pick <commit-hash> is not an option since it would pull in the changes for both A and B.

The solution is to split the commit into 2 and only cherry-pick the new commit that contains changes for A.

To do this:

  • run git rebase -i <commit-hash>~ (note the ~) or git rebase -i <hash-of-previous-commit>
  • find the commit you want to split in the rebase edit screen, change the pick to e (edit)
  • save and exit (ESC followed by :wq to close VIM)
  • git reset HEAD~ to reset the staged changes
  • git add [files-to-add] all the files we want to add to the first commit (here would be git add A)
  • git commit normally, with a message etc
  • Run as many other rounds of as you want commits:
    • git add [other-files-to-add]
    • git commit
  • git rebase --``continue to indicate that the splitting has been finished and to continue the rebase

Finally we can git cherry-pick <new-commit-hash> to get the changes into our branch

For any questions about using git, feel free to comment below or tweet to me @hugo__df.

Cover photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


Hugo Di Francesco

Co-author of "Professional JavaScript", "Front-End Development Projects with Vue.js" with Packt, "The Jest Handbook" (self-published). Hugo runs the Code with Hugo website helping over 100,000 developers every month and holds an MEng in Mathematical Computation from University College London (UCL). He has used JavaScript extensively to create scalable and performant platforms at companies such as Canon, Elsevier and (currently) Eurostar.

Get The Jest Handbook (100 pages)

Take your JavaScript testing to the next level by learning the ins and outs of Jest, the top JavaScript testing library.