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Chris Bongers
Chris Bongers

Posted on • Originally published at daily-dev-tips.com

Undo wrong Git changes

The other day I got a lovely email from one of my readers asking how to revert a commit that was made wrongly.
I looked back at my articles and realized I haven't ever noted this down, so here we go.

We'll be looking at a couple of levels of changes. Each one required a slightly different approach.

  • You have not yet committed the changes
  • Undo a commit that has not been pushed
  • Undo a pushed commit

Note: This article describes the commands. Most GUI's have a visual integration for these commands.

Undo changes that you haven't committed in Git

It could happen that you have made some changes, but then you quickly realize that you did something that isn't right and should be reverted.

Note: you can use git status to see all open changes

Take the file name of the file you want to revert and execute the following command.

git checkout filename.extension
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This command will revert the file to what it used to be.

You can see an example below where I changed the astro.config.mjs file and reverted those.

Undo changes in Git

Undo a commit that has not been pushed

Perhaps you got to the point where you already committed the changes.
Luckily you didn't push them yet.

This could have various reasons. Perhaps you noticed you didn't include all files, or you missed a chance.

Run the following command to revert the last commit.

git reset --soft HEAD~
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Note: You can specify multiple commits by placing a number at the end.

For instance, if we want to undo the last two commits, we can run the following command.

git reset --soft HEAD~2
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You can see an example below where I committed two changes, then reset my commit so I could make changes again.

Undo committed changes in Git

Undo an already pushed commit

This one is the most common scenario and also the messiest.
You have committed and pushed code to Git.

Note that the option described below does not remove the previous commit. It simply reverts it to what it was.

Step one is to ensure that you are on a clean working directory. You shouldn't have any open new changes.

Then you'll need to find the hash for the specific commit you are trying to undo. You can find them on your online Repo (like GitHub, for instance).

GitHub commit hash

Take this hash and then head back over to your terminal.
You can now revert this commit by executing the following command.

git revert f193a76 --no-edit
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Note: The --no-edit is optional. It won't prompt you to edit the commit message that way

Once executed, you'll note that it will do the opposite of the commit locally.

The command will return the files to what they used to be before.

Now all that's left is to push the reverted code.

git push
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When you view your changes, you'll see the old commit is still there, but a new revert commit replaces the changes.

Git revert pushed commit

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Top comments (20)

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balastrong profile image
Leonardo Montini

Might be worth mentioning that in case you have a pushed commit, you can still do the same as for local commit if you have force rights on the repo.

git reset --soft HEAD~
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And you get rid of the commit on your local branch, then

git push --force
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And the commit is also gone from the upstream repo as well.

There are a few different ways to get a similar result (get code back to the previous state), it's good to know as many as possible to properly decide which one to use based on the situation :)

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dailydevtips1 profile image
Chris Bongers Author

Thanks a lot Leonardo!
Indeed there are a lot of different option to keep track of so thanks for adding these ๐Ÿ’–

If you want you can also adjust my original article to include these? *(leaving that up to you)

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joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR

I'd add it but also explain in bold that this workaround with --force can also create issues with other team members commits if you're working on the same branch ๐Ÿ˜‚

As you'll need to pull changes first
.. Won't be nice to find out a mate's commit disappeared suddenly ๐Ÿ˜…

I'd rather prefer to aim a single commit by it's hash identifier just to make sure.

Still double-checking before committing and using MR/PR process from an individual branch is king to avoid issues.

Best regards

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zhixiangyao profile image
Yao Zhixiang • Edited on
git reset HEAD~
git checkout .
git push --force
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git reset --hard HEAD~
git push --force
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rahulrakesh16 profile image
Rakesh S M

A better approach but it can cause issues if multiple people are working on same branch. i guess it can be tweaked abit more.

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hyggedev profile image
Chris Hansen

Hey great article! Just to confirm on 'git revert.' After finding the hash, and using the command, it immediately updates the local files? Or does the remote repo become 'ahead' of local version and must we do a 'git pull' to accept updated changes again!? I'd test it but I'm out right now ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ’ฏ

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dailydevtips1 profile image
Chris Bongers Author

The revert is still local, you'll need to push it to get up to date on the remote.

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hyggedev profile image
Chris Hansen

Ahhh ofc, what am I saying lol. Thanks ๐Ÿ‘Œ

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guithomas profile image
Guilherme Thomas

Just yesterday I had to undo an already pushed commit. Never did this before and thought it would be a nightmare, glad I was wrong!
Thanks for writing!

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dailydevtips1 profile image
Chris Bongers Author

It happens, luckily we have some good ways of ondoing it ๐Ÿ’–

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android77 profile image
G. Horton

Great post, saving it for later. :)

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dailydevtips1 profile image
Chris Bongers Author

Yep, well still make mistakes time to time ๐Ÿ˜…

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ด

My IDE has a command for dropping a commit. Don't know/don't care about how the cli does it.

Git reset soft is my favorite solution for cleaning up the history

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dailydevtips1 profile image
Chris Bongers Author

Ah yes!
Big fan of using tools that do it for you.

Less struggle and less prone to mistakes.

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bannysilvey profile image
BannySilvey
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imzivko profile image
imzivko • Edited on

Great guide but I have a totally unrelated question.
What's the name of the shell prompt you're using?

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dailydevtips1 profile image
Chris Bongers Author

I think that's in iTerm (could also be in WebStorm) not sure which one I used for this article.
Mainly look fancy due to OhMyZSH

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mrsinak profile image
sina

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