by Adam Brett

Git - Help! I made my changes on the wrong branch (easy fix)

We've all done it

You get an emergency email from your boss and have to immediately drop everything you're doing to solve his problem. You listen to what's wrong and make all the necessary changes, test it, and then you're ready to commit, only you're on feature/awesome-new-stuff and forgot to checkout develop before you made your changes. ****.

All is not lost1

Pre-git, I have no idea how I would have fixed this. Separating your fixes with your feature changes would probably have been done by hand, and taken ages.

However thanks to git we can simply checkout the correct branch, and and our untracked changes will move with us.

If you've not committed yet

First, make sure all of your feature changes are committed to the correct branch (but not the fixes you want to move!), then:

git checkout <branch>

Be sure to replace <branch> with the name of the branch you actually want to commit to.

If you've already committed the changes

If you've already committed your changes, you need to do a SOFT reset. A soft reset will put your changes back into the index, instead of destroying them like a HARD reset would:

git reset --soft HEAD^

A quick note here, the ^ is the number of commits to roll-back, so if you wanted to go back 2 commits, you'd use:

git reset --soft HEAD^^

and for 3 commits

git reset --soft HEAD^^^

and so on... then you can run the checkout command above.

If there is a conflict between the two branches

If the changes you want to move will conflict with something on the branch you're moving to git will simply refuse to checkout the new branch. In this instance you want to use the stash-checkout-pop command like so:

git stash && git checkout <branch> && git stash pop

This will stash the changes so you have nothing to move, then checkout the new branch (as with nothing to move there can be no conflicts), and finally pop the stashed changes into the new branch ready for committing.


  1. Unless you've made changes in the same files as your fixes, you'll have to find another way, sorry! 

For exclusive content, including screen-casts, videos, and early beta access to my projects, subscribe to my email list below.


I love discussion, but not blog comments. If you want to comment on what's written above, head over to twitter.