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Alex Yumashev
Alex Yumashev

Posted on • Originally published at

Removing files from Mercurial history

Sometimes you need to remove files from Mercurial completely, even from the history. For instance, if you have accidentally stored a sensitive file in the repo (some password, or an access key, or a code-signing certificate etc. etc.) or committed a huge binary. Here's how you remove it:

Enter the "Convert" extension

You will need the hg convert command. This command is normally used to convert an SVN/GIT repository to Mercurial, but it can also be used to "convert" from Mercurial to Mercurial too.

The cool thing about it is the --filemap option that specifies which files should be included in the conversion process and which should not.

Add this code to .hgrc to enable the extension:


Steps to remove a file from hg

  1. Make sure all your teammates have pushed their local changes to the central repo (if any)

  2. Backup your repository

  3. Create a "map.txt" file:

# this filemap is used to exclude specific files
exclude "subdir/filename1.ext"
exclude "subdir/filename2.ext"
exclude "subdir2"

Then run this command:

hg convert --filemap map.txt c:/oldrepo c:/newrepo 

NOTE: You have to use "forward-slash" in paths, even on Windows.

Then wait and be patient. After a while you will have a new repo at c:\newrepo just without the files

(optional) Pushing your new repo back to central repo (e.g. Bitbucket)

If you have some central hg-storage you will have to "strip" all your changesets and then "push" your local repostiroy again.

For instance, if you use Bitbucket like us, go to "Admin - Strip". Enter "0" into the "Revision" box and this will remove all commits, but the "wiki" and "issues" areas will be preserved. Then - push the local repo back to Bitbucket again.

There's an important catch though - because the above procedure affects history and re-assigns new "ids" to all your changesets, your teammates have to reclone the repo from the central repo again.

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