Remove in Git

1 minute read

To remove a file from Git, you have to remove it from your tracked files (more accurately, remove it from your staging area) and then commit. The git rm command does that, and also removes the file from your working directory so you don’t see it as an untracked file the next time around.

If you simply remove the file from your working directory, it shows up under the “Changes not staged for commit” (that is, unstaged) area of your git status output:

$ rm PROJECTS.md
$ git status
On branch master
Your branch is up-to-date with 'origin/master'.
Changes not staged for commit:
    (use "git add/rm <file>..." to update what will be committed)
    (use "git checkout -- <file>..." to discard changes in working directory)
    
        deleted: PROJECTS.md
        
no changes added to commit (use "git add" and/or "git commit -a")

Then, if you run git rm, it stages the file’s removal:

$ git rm PROJECTS.md
rm 'PROJECTS.md'
$ git status
On branch master
Your branch is up-to-date with 'origin/master'.
Changes to be committed:
    (use "git reset HEAD <file>..." to unstage)
    
    	deleted: PROJECTS.md

The next time you commit, the file will be gone and no longer tracked. If you modified the file or had already added it to the staging area, you must force the removal with the -f option. This is a safety feature to prevent accidental removal of data that hasn’t yet been recorded in a snapshot and that can’t be recovered from Git.

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