git - renaming a branch: locally & remotely



~2 min read


293 words

To rename the name of a branch, there are four potential steps:

  1. Checkout the existing branch (the one you want to rename):

    % git checkout <old_name>
  2. Rename the local branch by moving it:

    % git branch -m <new_name>
  3. If you’ve already pushed the <old_name> branch to the remote repository delete the <old_name> remote branch:

    % git push origin --delete <old_name>
  4. Finally push the <new_name> local branch and reset the upstream branch:

    % git push origin -u <new_name>

That’s it. At this point you have successfully renamed your local and remote Git branch.

A note about the -m flag

Similar to the mv command in Bash, the -m flag is for moving. Since you’re on a branch, Git infers the branch that’s being moved, however, you can be explicit and consolidate steps 1 and 2:

git branch -m <oldbranch> <newbranch>

Bundled As A Bash Function

If you use bash or zsh and want to wrap this all up in a function, I did this with a function I call grb which is in my .zshrc:

function grb(){
  # git rename branch
  # this will rename the current branch and update the remote ref too
  # if *no* remote existed, a new one will be created anyway.
  CURRENT_BRANCH=$(git branch --show-current)
  REMOTE=$(git remote)
  echo "Renaming branch from $CURRENT_BRANCH to $NEW_BRANCH_NAME"
  git branch -m $NEW_BRANCH_NAME
  echo "Deleting remote reference of $CURRENT_BRANCH"
  git branch $REMOTE --delete $CURRENT_BRANCH
  echo "Pushing a reference of $NEW_BRANCH_NAME to $REMOTE"
  git push $REMOTE --set-upstream $NEW_BRANCH_NAME
  echo "DONE"

Additional Reading

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!