Reset or revert a specific file to a specific revision using Git?


Answers

You can quickly review the changes made to a file using the diff command:

git diff <commit hash> <filename>

Then to revert a specific file to that commit use the reset command:

git reset <commit hash> <filename>

You may need to use the --hard option if you have local modifications.

A good workflow for managaging waypoints is to use tags to cleanly mark points in your timeline. I can't quite understand your last sentence but what you may want is diverge a branch from a previous point in time. To do this, use the handy checkout command:

git checkout <commit hash>
git checkout -b <new branch name>

You can then rebase that against your mainline when you are ready to merge those changes:

git checkout <my branch>
git rebase master
git checkout master
git merge <my branch>
Question

I have made some changes to a file which has been committed a few times as part of a group of files, but now want to reset/revert the changes on it back to a previous version.

I have done a git log along with a git diff to find the revision I need, but just have no idea how to get the file back to its former state in the past.




git checkout -- foo

That will reset foo to HEAD. You can also:

git checkout HEAD^ foo

for one revision back, etc.




Reverting a single file to a previous version in git

Let's start with a qualitative description of what we want to do (much of this is said in Ben Straub's answer). We've made some number of commits, five of which changed a given file, and we want to revert the file to one of the previous versions. First of all, git doesn't keep version numbers for individual files. It just tracks content - a commit is essentially a snapshot of the work tree, along with some metadata (e.g. commit message). So, we have to know which commit has the version of the file we want. Once we know that, we'll need to make a new commit reverting the file to that state. (We can't just muck around with history, because we've already pushed this content, and editing history messes with everyone else.)

So let's start with finding the right commit. You can see the commits which have made modifications to given file(s) very easily:

git log path/to/file

If your commit messages aren't good enough, and you need to see what was done to the file in each commit, use the -p/--patch option:

git log -p path/to/file

Or, if you prefer the graphical view of gitk

gitk path/to/file

You can also do this once you've started gitk through the view menu; one of the options for a view is a list of paths to include.

Either way, you'll be able to find the SHA1 (hash) of the commit with the version of the file you want. Now, all you have to do is this:

# get the version of the file from the given commit
git checkout <commit> path/to/file
# and commit this modification
git commit

(The checkout command first reads the file into the index, then copies it into the work tree, so there's no need to use git add to add it to the index in preparation for committing.)

If your file may not have a simple history (e.g. renames and copies), see VonC's excellent comment. git can be directed to search more carefully for such things, at the expense of speed. If you're confident the history's simple, you needn't bother.




You can quickly review the changes made to a file using the diff command:

git diff <commit hash> <filename>

Then to revert a specific file to that commit use the reset command:

git reset <commit hash> <filename>

You may need to use the --hard option if you have local modifications.

A good workflow for managaging waypoints is to use tags to cleanly mark points in your timeline. I can't quite understand your last sentence but what you may want is diverge a branch from a previous point in time. To do this, use the handy checkout command:

git checkout <commit hash>
git checkout -b <new branch name>

You can then rebase that against your mainline when you are ready to merge those changes:

git checkout <my branch>
git rebase master
git checkout master
git merge <my branch>



Say your 5 commits are A, B, C, D, E--A being the first and E the latest. You want to revert file.txt to the way it was after commit A. You don't need to learn or remember the different versions or options of the git-reset and git-checkout commands. Run:

git show A:file.txt >file.txt

# If you want to commit the older version:
git add file.txt
git commit

The git-show command shows the contents of, or information about, any object in a Git repository. When given a commit reference like A (or master^ or HEAD~5 or ...), followed by a colon, followed by a file name, it will show the contents of that file as it was after that commit. Then it's just a matter of redirecting the output into the file.




you are almost there; you just need to give the reference to master; since you want to get the file from the master branch:

git checkout master -- filename

Note that the differences will be cached; so if you want to see the differences you obtained; use

git diff --cached



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