How To

How To Remove Files From Commit in Git

This comprehensive guide is essential to understand Git


Learning about version control is an important skill for all developers, and understanding Git’s commit process is an integral part of this process. If you, like many other developers, have made a commit in Git and later realized that you added the wrong file, do not panic, as this guide will teach you how to remove files from Git commit.

We will break the steps into tiny pieces so you can easily apply them to your code. Whether you are an experienced developer or a beginner, these steps will be relevant to you and your work.

Learn About Git States

Before attempting to remove a file from a commit, it is important to learn about the different Git workflow for a file. There are four states in which your file can reside. These are:

  • Unmodified state: this is the state before any changes have been made to a file.
  • Modified state: this is the state after a file has been changed but not yet committed.
  • Staged state: this is the state after a change has been staged for the next commit.
  • Committed state: this is the state after a commit has been made to the project’s Git repository.

How to Remove a File From Commit

1. Remove Files From Git Commit

Follow the instructions below to remove files from a Git commit.

  1. Input the command below to bring the committed files to the staging area.
    git reset --soft HEAD^
    Remove Files From Git Commit
  2. To remove a file from the staging area further, enter the command below.
    git reset HEAD <NAMEOFFILE>
  3. You can now modify your file and use the git add command to push your files to the staging area again.
  4. Lastly, use the command below to push the changes you made to the repository.
    git rm -- cached nameoffile
    git commit --amend

    Remove Files From Git Commit

2. Remove Files From Git Repository

Removing files from a Git commit is not difficult, you need to follow the instructions outlined below carefully.

  1. Firstly, you need to unstage your file because you cannot remove it if it is staged. To do this, use the command below. Specify the Head as source.
    $ git reset HEAD targetfile
  2. Once the file is unstaged, use the command below to remove the file from the Git index.
    $ git rm --cached targetfile
    rm 'newfile'
  3. After doing this, check the repository status, and you will discover that Git staged a deletion commit.
  4. Finally, use the git commit with the -amend option to amend the latest commit from your repository.
    $ git commit --amend

    [master 90f8bb1] Commit from HEAD
    Date: Fri Jan 13 02:32:50 2024 -0300
    1 file changed, 4 deletions(-)
    delete mode 100644 newfile
  5. This process will not create a new commit; instead, it will modify your latest commit to include your changes.

3. Remove a Specific File From Git Commit

Sometimes, you might not want to stage all your files and you only want to modify a specific file of your repository. In situations like this, the steps below will help you.

  1. Input the command below. Specify the commit before Head and the file you want to remove.
    $ git reset HEAD^ -- <file>
  2. After your modification, your file will be returned to the staging area.
  3. You can choose to remove the file from the staging area, enter the command below and specify that you want to reset from the Head.
    $ git reset HEAD <file>
  4. To completely remove the file from the index, enter the command below
    $ git rm --cached <file>
  5. To verify that the file was correctly removed from the staging area, input the command below.
    $ git ls-files
  6. After the desired changes have been made, you can amend the commit you removed from the files using the command below.
    $ git commit --amend

Concluding Remarks

Finally, we are at the end of this guide. Using the information outlined above, you can easily remove files from a commit in Git. To learn more about this process, you can also visit Stack Overflow where many developers have given their insight to this issue.

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David Ogbor
David is a tech guru with extensive knowledge in technical articles. He is passionate about writing and presents technical articles in an easy-to-understand format for easy comprehension. He aims to present easy solutions for day-to-day problems encountered while using PC. In his spare time, he likes traveling, playing sports, and singing.