Committing and reviewing changes to your project

GitHub Desktop tracks all changes to all files as you edit them. You can decide how to group the changes to create meaningful commits.

In this article

About commits

Similar to saving a file, a commit is a change to one or more files in your branch. Git assigns each commit a unique ID, called a SHA or hash, that tracks:

  • The specific changes
  • When the changes were made
  • Who created the changes

When you make a commit, you must include a commit message that briefly describes the changes. You can also add a co-author on any commits you collaborate on.

1. Choosing a branch and making changes

  1. Create a new branch, or select an existing branch by clicking Current Branch on the toolbar and selecting the branch from the list.
    Drop down menu to switch your current branch
  2. Using your favorite text editor, such as Atom, make the necessary changes to files in your project.

2. Selecting changes to include in a commit

As you make changes to files in your text editor and save them locally, you will also see the changes in GitHub Desktop.

  • The red icon indicates removed files.

  • The yellow icon indicates modified files.

  • The green icon indicates added files.

  • To access stashed changes, click Stashed Changes. Stashed changes option

  • To add all changes in all files to a single commit, keep the checkbox at the top of the list selected.

    Select checkbox to commit all changed files

  • To add all changes in one or more files to a single commit, unselect the checkboxes next to the files you don't want included, leaving only the files you want in the commit. You can toggle the checkbox with the Spacebar or Enter keys after selecting a file.

    Select checkboxes next to the files you want to commit

Creating a partial commit

If one file contains multiple changes, but you only want some of those changes to be included in a commit, you can create a partial commit. The rest of your changes will remain intact, so that you can make additional modifications and commits. This allows you to make separate, meaningful commits, such as keeping line break changes in a commit separate from code or prose changes.

When you review the diff of the file, the lines that will be included in the commit are highlighted in blue. To exclude the change, click the changed line so the blue disappears.

Unselected lines in a file

Discarding changes

You can discard all the uncommitted changes in one file, a range of files, or discard all changes in all files since the last commit.

  1. In the list of changed files, select the files where you want to discard the changes since the last commit. To select multiple files, click shift and click on the range of files you want to discard changes from.

    Select multiple files with changes to discard

  2. Click Discard Changes or Discard Selected Changes to discard changes to one or more files, or Discard All Changes to discard changes to all files since the last commit.

    Discard Changes option in context menu

  3. To confirm the changes, review the files affected and click Discard Changes.

    Discard Changes button in the confirmation dialog

Tip: The changes you discarded are saved in a dated file in the Trash and you can recover them until the Trash is emptied.

  1. In the list of changed files, select the files where you want to discard the changes since the last commit. To select multiple files, click shift and click on the range of files you want to discard changes from.

    Select multiple files with changes to discard

  2. Click Discard Changes or Discard Selected Changes to discard changes to one or more files, or Discard All Changes to discard changes to all files since the last commit.

    Discard Changes option in context menu

  3. To confirm the changes, review the files affected and click Discard Changes.

    Discard Changes button in the confirmation dialog

Tip: The changes you discarded are saved in a file in the Recycle Bin and you can recover them until it is emptied.

3. Write a commit message and push your changes

Once you're satisfied with the changes you've chosen to include in your commit, write your commit message and push your changes. If you've collaborated on a commit, you can also attribute a commit to more than one author.

  1. At the bottom of the list of changes, in the Summary field, type a short, meaningful commit message. Optionally, you can add more information about the change in the Description field.

    Commit message field

  2. Optionally, to attribute a commit to another author, click the add co-authors icon and type the username(s) you want to include.

    Add a co-author to the commit message

  3. Under the Description field, click Commit to BRANCH.

    Commit button

  4. If the branch you're trying to commit to is protected, Desktop will warn you.

    • To move your changes, click switch branches.
    • To commit your changes to the protected branch, click Commit to BRANCH.

    For more information about protected branches, see "About protected branches".

    Protected branch warning

  5. Click Push origin or Force push origin to push your changes to the remote.

    The Push button

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