working - Git checkout: updating paths is incompatible with switching branches

git track cannot be used with updating paths (8)

My problem is related to Fatal Git error when switching branch.

I try to fetch a remote branch with the command

git checkout -b local-name origin/remote-name

but I get this error message:

fatal: git checkout: updating paths is incompatible with switching branches.
Did you intend to checkout 'origin/remote-name' which can not be resolved as commit?

If I manually create a branch and then pull the remote branch, it works, just as making a new clone and checking the branch out.

Why does it not work on the repository I work with?

After fetching a zillion times still added remotes didn't show up, although the blobs were in the pool. Turns out the --tags option shouldn't be given to git remote add for whatever reason. You can manually remove it from the .git/config to make git fetch create the refs.

After having tried most of what I could read in this thread without success, I stumbled across this one: Remote branch not showing up in "git branch -r"

It turned out that my .git/config file was incorrect. After doing a simple fix all branches showed up.

Going from

[remote "origin"]
    url =
    fetch = +refs/heads/master:refs/remotes/origin/master


[remote "origin"]
    url =
    fetch = +refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/origin/*

Did the trick

Could your issue be linked to this other SO question "checkout problem"?

i.e.: a problem related to:

  • an old version of Git
  • a curious checkout syntax, which should be: git checkout -b [<new_branch>] [<start_point>], with [<start_point>] referring to the name of a commit at which to start the new branch, and 'origin/remote-name' is not that.
    (whereas git branch does support a start_point being the name of a remote branch)

Note: what the script says is:

  if test '' != "$newbranch$force$merge"
    die "git checkout: updating paths is incompatible with switching branches/forcing$hint"

It is like the syntax git checkout -b [] [remote_branch_name] was both renaming the branch and resetting the new starting point of the new branch, which is deemed incompatible.

For me I had a typo and my remote branch didn't exist

Use git branch -a to list remote branches

I believe this occurs when you are trying to checkout a remote branch that your local git repo is not aware of yet. Try:

git remote show origin

If the remote branch you want to checkout is under "New remote branches" and not "Tracked remote branches" then you need to fetch them first:

git remote update
git fetch

Now it should work:

git checkout -b local-name origin/remote-name

I suspect there is no remote branch named remote-name, but that you've inadvertently created a local branch named origin/remote-name.

Is it possible you at some point typed:

git branch origin/remote-name

Thus creating a local branch named origin/remote-name? Type this command:

git checkout origin/remote-name

You'll either see:

Switched to branch "origin/remote-name"

which means it's really a mis-named local branch, or

Note: moving to "origin/rework-isscoring" which isn't a local branch
If you want to create a new branch from this checkout, you may do so
(now or later) by using -b with the checkout command again. Example:
  git checkout -b 

which means it really is a remote branch.

Not sure if this is helpful or exactly relevant to your question, but if you are trying to fetch and checkout only a single branch from the remote repository, then the following git commands will do the trick:

branch= << BRANCH NAME >>

git init
git remote add origin $url
git fetch origin $branch:origin/$branch
git checkout -b $branch --track origin/$branch

none of the above worked for me. My situation is slightly different, my remote branch is not at origin. but in a different repository.

git remote add remoterepo GIT_URL.git
git fetch remoterepo
git checkout -b branchname remoterepo/branchname

tip: if you don't see the remote branch in the following output git branch -v -a there is no way to check it out.

Confirmed working on