How to switch branches with Git Checkout

Git Checkout allows you to access different branches or create new ones. You can also access remote branches with it.

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What is Git Checkout?

When comparing Git and SVN, Git offers its users the option to split projects into different branches which is a huge advantage. These different lines of development allow developers to work simultaneously or independently on a project. It allows them to make changes without worrying about causing a disruption to the project. Teams can easily work at the same time as changes are made independently first and then merged. Git Checkout is a Git Command which allows you to navigate between different branches.

This allows developers to choose any project branch and work on it. Changes are saved in the project history. Git Checkout updates the branch’s working folder and saves the new commits to the current branch. So, Git Checkout is not just a read-only operation, it is also very useful for making substantial changes. This method offers many security-related advantages. Users can switch between branches quickly and errors do not negatively impact on the project structure.

What is the syntax and functionality of Git Checkout?

The syntax of Git Checkout is always the same. Only the command is given and this is then specified under certain circumstances. We’ll cover how to do this in detail in the following sections. Our Git tutorial might be useful if you would like to learn more about the basics. Keep reading to discover how to use Git Checkout:

git checkout <example branch>

This process is pretty clear. Git Checkout and the corresponding specification allow you to leave the path you’re currently working on and view another branch. You can then carry out all the tests and changes on this section of your project. Git Checkout will also allow you to leave this part again and switch to your master branch or another branch.

How do I switch to an existing branch with Git Checkout?

Git Checkout’s simplest function is switching from one existing branch to another as described above. You can use the Git Branch command to find out which branches are currently available if you’re not sure. The output looks like this:

git branch

You can see that there are three other branches in addition to the main branch. Use the Git Checkout command to switch to the “second_branch” branch. It looks like this:

git branch
git checkout <second_branch></second_branch>

You can continue working in the “second_branch” now. An overview of the important commands can be found in our handy Git cheat sheet with a PDF download.

How do I switch to a new branch with Git Checkout?

You also have the option to switch to branches that haven’t been created yet. Normally, the Git Branch command is used to create a new branch and an additional branch with can be created with “git branch fourth_branch”. You could then switch to it again using Git Checkout. However, you can avoid doing these steps and complete the process in one go. Simply use the “-b” argument. This is what it looks like in code:

git checkout -b <fourth_branch></fourth_branch>

This command instructs Git to run Git Branch first and then Git Checkout. This creates the new branch first and then opens it directly. By default, the current HEAD is used as the basis for the new branch. Add an additional parameter to the above command if you want to do it differently. This would look like this:

git checkout -b <fourth_branch> <first_branch></first_branch></fourth_branch>

This makes “first_branch” the basis for the new branch “fourth_branch”.

How do I use Git checkout for remote repositories?

If you use remote repositories in a team, each one contains its own branches. You can us Git Checkout to access the remote repositories. You must open the corresponding branch to do this:

git fetch --all

For older versions of Git, you must create your own branch based on the remote branch:

git checkout -b <remote_branch> origin/ <remote_branch></remote_branch></remote_branch>

In newer versions, this step is no longer necessary. You can use a remote branch as a local branch:

git checkout <remote_branch></remote_branch>

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