Move head back to a previous commit in git.

Stan Lee. June 11, 2016 Comments

Before answering lets add some background, explaining what is this HEAD.

First of all what is HEAD?

HEAD is simply a reference to the current commit (latest) which the current branch is pointing to right now.
There can only be a single HEAD at any given time. (excluding git worktree)

The content of HEAD is stored inside .git/HEAD and it contains the 40 bytes SHA-1 of the current commit.


detached HEAD

If you are not on the latest commit - meaning that HEAD is pointing to a prior commit in history its called detached HEAD.


A few options on how to recover from a detached HEAD:


git checkout

git checkout 
git checkout -b  
git checkout HEAD~X // x is the number of commits t go back

This will checkout new branch pointing to the desired commit.
This command will checkout to a given commit.
At this point you can create a branch and start to work from this point on.

# Checkout a given commit. 
# Doing so will result in a `detached HEAD` which mean that the `HEAD`
# is not pointing to the latest so you will need to checkout branch
#in order to be able to update the code.
git checkout 

# create a new branch forked to the given commit
git checkout -b 

git reflog

You can always use the reflog as well.
git reflog will display any change which updated the HEAD and checking out the desired reflog entry will set the HEAD back to this commit.

Every time the HEAD is modified there will be a new entry in the reflog

git reflog
git checkout HEAD@{...}

This will get you back to your desired commit


git reset HEAD --hard

"Move" your head back to the desired commit.

# This will destroy any local modifications.
# Don't do it if you have uncommitted work you want to keep.
git reset --hard 0d1d7fc32

# Alternatively, if there's work to keep:
git stash
git reset --hard 0d1d7fc32
git stash pop
# This saves the modifications, then reapplies that patch after resetting.
# You could get merge conflicts, if you've modified things which were
# changed since the commit you reset to.

#After this you can push changes to remote branch
git push -f origin master


#WARNING!! --hard means that any uncommitted changes you currently have will be thrown away permanently. To roll back to a previous commit without throwing away your work, use --soft. 
  • Note: (Since Git 2.7)
    you can also use the git rebase --no-autostash as well.
  • git
  • git-HEAD