git cherry-pick

Over the past 10 months working at DigitalOcean, I’ve come to learn more about git and how it can save me from my mistakes. This past week, I used git cherry-pick for the first time and wanted to share how you can use it as well.

While working on a ticket in a separate branch of my team’s project, I had to pause and jump back onto my master branch to debug some errors we were seeing in production. I proceeded to commit my changes, hop onto master, and resolve our issue. My mistake occurred when I dove back into my ticket work and somehow accidentally didn’t checkout to my separate branch. Always run git branch before picking up where you left off!

I finished up my work and was about to commit my changes when I realized my mistake and that I was still on the master branch. Before getting frustrated about how I was going to transfer my work to the correct branch, I thought to myself “hey, since git essentially allows us to write and edit our project history, there must be a way for me to move these changes from one branch to another”.

Off to Google I went and found the git cherry-pick command! If you didn’t know, cherry-pick allows you to grab a commit from one branch and write it to another branch. All you need to do is grab the the commit ID of the commit I wanted to move. Let’s breakdown the workflow.

I have my two branches master and ticket-work, and we want to move a commit from master to ticket-work. First, I commit those changes that I accidentally made to master. Then, I use git log to see the history of the commits on master.

$ git log

commit 0a5e736cvcf6b89894894b921d4858bb34417g21
Author: jzerwick <>
Date:   Wed Oct 2 00:11:23 2019 +0200

    Implemented changes

I’ll grab the commit ID of the commit I want to move 0a5e736cvcf6b89894894b921d4858bb34417g21, hop onto my other branch, and execute cherry-pick like so:

$ git checkout ticket-work
$ git cherry-pick 0a5e736cvcf6b89894894b921d4858bb34417g21

Now all that’s left is for me to delete that unwanted commit on master.
This can be done by using the reset command with the --hard flag like so:

$ git checkout master
$ git reset --hard HEAD^

The HEAD^ targets the last commit, which you can also target with HEAD~1. If you want to delete multiple commits, just specify the number of last commits after the ~ symbol. Removing the last two commits would use HEAD~2.

And that’s it! I now have the commit on the branch I wanted and master is back to its rightful state.


Now read this

Leveraging the Command Line for Increased Productivity

As working developers growing their career, we should always be seeking ways to improve our productivity and effectiveness. Many of us are drawn to the dazzling array of extensions, plugins, and third-party tools that claim to “boost our... Continue →