unpushed - github move commits

Move the most recent commit(s) to a new branch with Git (8)

I'd like to move the last several commits I've committed to master to a new branch and take master back to before those commits were made. Unfortunately, my Git-fu is not strong enough yet, any help?

I.e. How can I go from this

master A - B - C - D - E

to this?

newbranch     C - D - E
master A - B 

In General...

The method exposed by sykora is the best option in this case. But sometimes is not the easiest and it's not a general method. For a general method use git cherry-pick:

To achieve what OP wants, its a 2-step process:

Step 1 - Note which commits from master you want on a newbranch


git checkout master
git log

Note the hashes of (say 3) commits you want on newbranch. Here I shall use:
C commit: 9aa1233
D commit: 453ac3d
E commit: 612ecb3

Note: You can use the first seven characters or the whole commit hash

Step 2 - Put them on the newbranch

git checkout newbranch
git cherry-pick 612ecb3
git cherry-pick 453ac3d
git cherry-pick 9aa1233

OR (on Git 1.7.2+, use ranges)

git checkout newbranch
git cherry-pick 612ecb3~1..9aa1233

git cherry-pick applies those three commits to newbranch.

Much simpler solution using git stash


  • Your primary purpose is to roll back master, and
  • You want to keep changes but don't particularly care about the individual commits, and
  • You haven't pushed yet, and
  • You want this to be easy and not complicated with temp branches and other headaches

Then the following is far simpler (starting on branch master that has three mistaken commits):

git reset HEAD~3
git stash
git checkout newbranch
git stash pop

What this does, by line number

  1. Undoes the last three commits (and their messages) to master, but leaves all working files intact
  2. Stashes away all the working file changes, making the master working tree equal to the HEAD~3 state
  3. Switches to an existing branch newbranch
  4. Applies the stashed changes to your working directory and clears the stash

You can now use git add and git commit as you normally would. All new commits will be added to newbranch.

What this doesn't do

  • It doesn't leave random temporary branches cluttering your tree
  • It doesn't preserve the mistaken commits and commit messages, so you'll need to add a new commit message to this new commit


The OP stated the goal was to "take master back to before those commits were made" without losing changes and this solution does that.

I do this at least once a week when I accidentally make new commits to master instead of develop. Usually I have only one commit to rollback in which case using git reset HEAD^ on line 1 is a simpler way to rollback just one commit.

Don't do this if you pushed master's changes upstream

Someone else may have pulled those changes. If you are only rewriting your local master there's no impact when it's pushed upstream, but pushing a rewritten history to collaborators can cause headaches.

Moving to a new branch

WARNING: This method works because you are creating a new branch with the first command: git branch newbranch. If you want to move commits to an existing branch you need to merge your changes into the existing branch before executing git reset --hard HEAD~3 (see Moving to an existing branch below). If you don't merge your changes first, they will be lost.

Unless there are other circumstances involved, this can be easily done by branching and rolling back.

# Note: Any changes not committed will be lost.
git branch newbranch      # Create a new branch, saving the desired commits
git reset --hard HEAD~3   # Move master back by 3 commits (GONE from master)
git checkout newbranch    # Go to the new branch that still has the desired commits

But do make sure how many commits to go back. Alternatively, you can instead of HEAD~3, simply provide the hash of the commit (or the reference like origin/master) you want to "revert back to" on the master (/current) branch, e.g:

git reset --hard a1b2c3d4

*1 You will only be "losing" commits from the master branch, but don't worry, you'll have those commits in newbranch!

WARNING: With Git version 2.0 and later, if you later git rebase the new branch upon the original (master) branch, you may need an explicit --no-fork-point option during the rebase to avoid losing the carried-over commits. Having branch.autosetuprebase always set makes this more likely. See John Mellor's answer for details.

Moving to an existing branch

If you want to move your commits to an existing branch, it will look like this:

git checkout existingbranch
git merge master
git checkout master
git reset --hard HEAD~3 # Go back 3 commits. You *will* lose uncommitted work.
git checkout existingbranch

1) Create a new branch, which moves all your changes to new_branch.

git checkout -b new_branch

2) Then go back to old branch.

git checkout master

3) Do git rebase

git rebase -i <short-hash-of-B-commit>

4) Then the opened editor contains last 3 commit information.

pick <C's hash> C
pick <D's hash> D
pick <E's hash> E

5) Change pick to drop in all those 3 commits. Then save and close the editor.

drop <C's hash> C
drop <D's hash> D
drop <E's hash> E

6) Now last 3 commits are removed from current branch (master). Now push the branch forcefully, with + sign before branch name.

git push origin +master

Had just this situation:

Branch one: A B C D E F     J   L M  
                       \ (Merge)
Branch two:             G I   K     N

I performed:

git branch newbranch 
git reset --hard HEAD~8 
git checkout newbranch

I expected that commit I would be the HEAD, but commit L is it now...

To be sure to land on the right spot in the history its easier to work with the hash of the commit

git branch newbranch 
git reset --hard #########
git checkout newbranch

This doesn't "move" them in the technical sense but it has the same effect:

A--B--C  (branch-foo)
 \    ^-- I wanted them here!
   D--E--F--G  (branch-bar)
      ^--^--^-- Opps wrong branch!

While on branch-bar:
$ git reset --hard D # remember the SHAs for E, F, G (or E and G for a range)

A--B--C  (branch-foo)
   D-(E--F--G) detached
   ^-- (branch-bar)

Switch to branch-foo
$ git cherry-pick E..G

A--B--C--E'--F'--G' (branch-foo)
 \   E--F--G detached (This can be ignored)
  \ /
   D--H--I (branch-bar)

Now you won't need to worry about the detached branch because it is basically
like they are in the trash can waiting for the day it gets garbage collected.
Eventually some time in the far future it will look like:

A--B--C--E'--F'--G'--L--M--N--... (branch-foo)
   D--H--I--J--K--.... (branch-bar)

Yet another way to do this, using just 2 commands. Also keeps your current working tree intact.

git checkout -b newbranch # switch to a new branch
git branch -f master HEAD~3 # make master point to some older commit

Old version - before I learned about git branch -f

git checkout -b newbranch # switch to a new branch
git push . +HEAD~3:master # make master point to some older commit 

Being able to push to . is a nice trick to know.

You can do this is just 3 simple step that i used.

1) make new branch where you want to commit you recent update.

git branch <branch name>

2) Find Recent Commit Id for commit on new branch.

git log

3) Copy that commit id note that Most Recent commit list take place on top. so you can find your commit. you also find this via message.

git cherry-pick d34bcef232f6c...

you can also provide some rang of commit id.

git cherry-pick d34bcef...86d2aec

Now your job done. If you picked correct id and correct branch then you will success. So before do this be careful. else another problem can occur.

Now you can push your code

git push