git-worktree is awesome

Cascavel -

I’m still mad I haven’t found this out before.


Imagine you’re working on something, then you need to work on something else on the same repo for whatever reason - you have some modified files, some new ones, some deleted… what do you do?

I would usually stash them without a description, because, you know, I’m in a hurry, and then spend a lot of time later finding out which stash it was. Or… I just switch to a new branch and git commit -am wip.

What if I told you there’s a better way?

Introducing… git workstrees! A feature that has been there forever and yet I don’t think I know anyone who ever used it!

Usage

The main change in your workflow is that you’ll need to make a bare clone of the repo you want to work on, e.g.:

git clone --bare git@github.com:goreleaser/goreleaser
# or, with gh
gh repo clone goreleaser/goreleaser -- --bare

Then, you can create a new worktree for the main branch:

git worktree add main

And then you cd into the main dir:

cd main
git show @

Boom! You now have a folder for the main branch… you can update it and do whatever you would as a normal git repository.

Now, let’s say you need to work on something else:

cd ..
git worktree add not-main
cd not-main
git status

There you go, a clean copy of the main branch! And the previous edited main still lives on ../main!

neovim plugin

If you use neovim, you can use git-worktree.nvim (which I recommend that you use together with telescope.nvim) to make everything the workflow even easier.

If you want to see my config, check out:

And this is how it looks like:

Pressing leader-gws: switch between existing work trees.

Pressing leader-gws: switch between existing work trees.

Pressing leader-gwc: create and switch to a new work trees from an existing branch.

Pressing leader-gwc: create and switch to a new work trees from an existing branch.

You can also add hooks to its events (e.g. switch) to auto-run things for you, for instance, setup project dependencies - or anything you’d like, really.

Parting notes

If you’d rather watch a video instead of reading, or if you’re someone learning vim/neovim (such as myself), I strongly recommend watching ThePrimeagen’s YouTube Channel, specially this video about git-worktree.

And that’s it! A quick tip I needed to share because its just too amazing not to.

git neovim vim
Avatar photo Carlos is a Site Reliability Engineer who enjoys working on OpenSource. Twitter Tweet