Notes on Advanced Git Tools

My notes from Tobias Gunther’s video covering advanced git tools.

Christian Mills


December 29, 2021


Here are some notes I took while watching Tobias Gunther’s video covering advanced git tools such as interactive rebase, cherry-picking, reflog, submodules, and search and find.

Interactive Rebase

  • The swiss army knife of git commands
  • A tool for optimizing and cleaning up your commit history
    • Change a commit’s message
    • Delete commits
    • Reorder commits
    • Combine multiple commits into one
    • Edit/split an existing commit into multiple new ones
  • Warning Note
    • Interactive rebase rewrites your commit history
    • The commits you manipulate will have new hash ID’s
    • You should not use interactive rebase on stuff you already pushed to a remote repository
  • Use it for cleaning up your local commit history before merging it into a shard team branch
    • Example: When you are done developing on a feature branch
  • Steps
    1. What should be the “base” commit?
      • At least the parent commit of the one you want to manipulate
    2. git rebase -i HEAD~3
    3. In the editor, only determine which actions you want to perform. Don’t change commit data in this step.
  • Change commit message
    • Most recent commit
      • git commit ammend
    • Older commits
      • git rebase -i HEAD~<number-of-commits-before-HEAD>
        • Opens editor window with commits in selected range
      • Mark up the line with the target commit with the desired action
        • reword <commit-hash> <commit-message>
      • Save and close editor
        • New editor window will open
      • Change commit message
      • Save and close editor
  • Combine two commits
    • Determine the base commit
      • git rebase -i HEAD~<number-of-commits-before-HEAD>
    • Mark up the line with the target commit with the desired action
      • squash <commit-hash> <commit-message>
      • Will combine commit in the marked line with the commit in the line above it
    • Save and close editor
      • New editor window will open
    • Add commit message for new commit


  • Integrating single, specific commits
    • Normally, you should integrate commits on the branch level
  • Should only be used for special situations
  • Moving a commit to a different branch
    • Switch to the branch the commit will be moved to
      • git switch <branch-name>
    • git cherry-pick <commit-hash>
    • Clean up branch the commit was moved from
      • git switch <commit-origin-branch>
      • git reset --hard HEAD~1


  • journal where git logs every movement of the HEAD pointer
  • Recovering Deleted Commits
    • Delete commit
      • git reset --hard <commit-hash>
    • Open reflog
      • git reflog
      • entries are ordered chronologically with the most recent at the top
    • Restore state before deletion
      • git branch <new-branch> <commit-hash-before-deletion>
  • Recovering deleted branches
    • Delete branch
      • git branch -d <branch-name>
    • Open reflog
      • git reflog
        • Find the commit hash before the deletion
    • Restore branch
      • git branch <branch-name> <commit-hash>


  • A standard git repository that is nested inside another repository
    • Don’t manually copy-paste third-party code
      • mixes external code with your own files
      • Updating the external code is a manual process
  • The actual content of a submodule is not part of the parent git repository
    • stored in a .gitmodules file, .gitconfig file and .git/.gitmodules file
      • Remote URL
      • Local path
      • Checked out revision
  • Adding a submodule
    • Open your git project
    • Create a new folder for the submodule (e.g. lib)
    • Enter new folder
    • git submodule add <remote-repo-url>
    • creates a new .gitmodules file
  • Need to commit to main repository
    • git commit -m "commit message"
  • Cloning a project with submodules
    • Clone project like normal
      • git clone <remote-url>
      • submodule folders are empty by default
    • Initialize submodules
      • git submodule update --init --recursize
      • triggers cloning processes
  • Cloning a project with submodules (single step)
    • git clone --recurse-submodules <remote-repo-url>
  • Check out revisions in submodule
    • submodule repositories are checked out on a commit, not a branch

Search and Find

  • Filtering your commit history
    • can use these in combination
    • by date --before/--after
      • git log --after="2021-7-1" --before="2021-7-5"
    • by message --grep
      • git log --grep="search-string"
      • supports regex
    • by author --author
      • git log --author="author-name"
    • by file -- <filename>
      • git log -- <filename>
      • the -- is to make sure it is not confused for a branch name
    • by branch <branch-name>
      • git log <branch-name>
    • commits in one branch but not another one
      • git log <branch-A>..<branch-B>

Additional Resources

Advanced Git Kit