OverviewTeaching: 5 min
Exercises: 0 minQuestions
How can I tell Git to ignore files I don’t want to track?Objectives
Configure Git to ignore specific files.
Explain why ignoring files can be useful.
What if we have files that we do not want Git to track for us, like backup files created by our editor or intermediate files created during data analysis? Let’s create a few dummy files:
$ mkdir results $ touch a.dat b.dat c.dat results/a.out results/b.out
and see what Git says:
$ git status
On branch main Untracked files: (use "git add <file>..." to include in what will be committed) a.dat b.dat c.dat results/ nothing added to commit but untracked files present (use "git add" to track)
Putting these files under version control would be a waste of disk space. What’s worse, having them all listed could distract us from changes that actually matter, so let’s tell Git to ignore them.
We do this by creating a file in the root directory of our project called
$ nano .gitignore $ cat .gitignore
These patterns tell Git to ignore any file whose name ends in
and everything in the
(If any of these files were already being tracked,
Git would continue to track them.)
Once we have created this file,
the output of
git status is much cleaner:
$ git status
On branch main Untracked files: (use "git add <file>..." to include in what will be committed) .gitignore nothing added to commit but untracked files present (use "git add" to track)
The only thing Git notices now is the newly-created
You might think we wouldn’t want to track it,
but everyone we’re sharing our repository with will probably want to ignore
the same things that we’re ignoring.
Let’s add and commit
$ git add .gitignore $ git commit -m "Ignore data files and the results folder." $ git status
On branch main nothing to commit, working directory clean
As a bonus, using
.gitignore helps us avoid accidentally adding to the repository files that we don’t want to track:
$ git add a.dat
The following paths are ignored by one of your .gitignore files: a.dat Use -f if you really want to add them.
If we really want to override our ignore settings,
we can use
git add -f to force Git to add something. For example,
git add -f a.dat.
We can also always see the status of ignored files if we want:
$ git status --ignored
On branch main Ignored files: (use "git add -f <file>..." to include in what will be committed) a.dat b.dat c.dat results/ nothing to commit, working directory clean
Ignoring Nested Files
Given a directory structure that looks like:
How would you ignore only
If you only want to ignore the contents of
results/plots, you can change your
.gitignoreto ignore only the
/plots/subfolder by adding the following line to your .gitignore:
This line will ensure only the contents of
results/plotsis ignored, and not the contents of
As with most programming issues, there are a few alternative ways that one may ensure this ignore rule is followed. The “Ignoring Nested Files: Variation” exercise has a slightly different directory structure that presents an alternative solution. Further, the discussion page has more detail on ignore rules.
Including Specific Files
How would you ignore all
.datfiles in your root directory except for
final.dat? Hint: Find out what
!(the exclamation point operator) does
You would add the following two lines to your .gitignore:
*.dat # ignore all data files !final.dat # except final.data
The exclamation point operator will include a previously excluded entry.
Note also that because you’ve previously committed
.datfiles in this lesson they will not be ignored with this new rule. Only future additions of
.datfiles added to the root directory will be ignored.
Ignoring Nested Files: Variation
Given a directory structure that looks similar to the earlier Nested Files exercise, but with a slightly different directory structure:
results/data results/images results/plots results/analysis
How would you ignore all of the contents in the results folder, but not
Hint: think a bit about how you created an exception with the
If you want to ignore the contents of
results/but not those of
results/data/, you can change your
.gitignoreto ignore the contents of results folder, but create an exception for the contents of the
results/datasubfolder. Your .gitignore would look like this:
results/* # ignore everything in results folder !results/data/ # do not ignore results/data/ contents
Ignoring all data Files in a Directory
Assuming you have an empty .gitignore file, and given a directory structure that looks like:
results/data/position/gps/a.dat results/data/position/gps/b.dat results/data/position/gps/c.dat results/data/position/gps/info.txt results/plots
What’s the shortest
.gitignorerule you could write to ignore all
result/data/position/gps? Do not ignore the
results/data/position/gps/*.datwill match every file in
results/data/position/gpsthat ends with
.dat. The file
results/data/position/gps/info.txtwill not be ignored.
Ignoring all data Files in the repository
Let us assume you have many
.datfiles in different subdirectories of your repository. For example, you might have:
results/a.dat data/experiment_1/b.dat data/experiment_2/c.dat data/experiment_2/variation_1/d.dat
How do you ignore all the
.datfiles, without explicitly listing the names of the corresponding folders?
This will ignore all the
.datfiles, regardless of their position in the directory tree. You can still include some specific exception with the exclamation point operator.
The Order of Rules
.gitignorefile with the following contents:
What will be the result?
!modifier will negate an entry from a previously defined ignore pattern. Because the
!*.datentry negates all of the previous
.datfiles in the
.gitignore, none of them will be ignored, and all
.datfiles will be tracked.
You wrote a script that creates many intermediate log-files of the form
log_03, etc. You want to keep them but you do not want to track them through
.gitignoreentry that excludes files of the form
Test your “ignore pattern” by creating some dummy files of the form
You find that the file
log_01is very important after all, add it to the tracked files without changing the
Discuss with your neighbor what other types of files could reside in your directory that you do not want to track and thus would exclude via
- append either
log*as a new entry in your .gitignore
git add -f log_01
.gitignorefile tells Git what files to ignore.