git - checking out remote branches, revisited



~2 min read


215 words

Previously, I wrote about how to checkout branches from a remote when the branch is not present locally.

Recently, I found a new method that makes this even simpler by combining git checkout’s -t flag with git branch’s -a flag.

The generalalized command is:

$ git checkout -t $(git branch -a | grep <target-branch>)

By replacing the target branch, I’m able to pull down a branch and check it out immediately without having to know the whole name.

$ git branch
$ git checkout -t $(git branch -a | grep pd-831)
Branch 'pd-831/download-photos' set up to track remote branch 'pd-831/download-photos' from 'origin'.
Switched to a new branch 'pd-831/download-photos'

This is particularly useful if you have a convention of placing ticket identifiers in the branch name (e.g., pd-831). In the above case, pd-831/download-photos was not tracked locally, but there was a remote branch that I could pull. Note, however, this only worked because I only had one branch associated with pd-831. If there were multiple, I would need a more specific grep to avoid multiple returned lines which would break the git checkout operation.

As I mentioned to a friend when I shared this with him:

The feeling of combining things in a novel way is glorious!

Hi there and thanks for reading! My name's Stephen. I live in Chicago with my wife, Kate, and dog, Finn. Want more? See about and get in touch!