Each file in your working directory can be in one of two states: tracked or untracked. Tracked files are files that were in the last snapshot, as well as any newly staged files; they can be unmodified, modified, or staged. In short, tracked files are files that Git knows about.
Untracked files are everything else — any files in your working directory that were not in your last snapshot and are not in your staging area. When you first clone a repository, all of your files will be tracked and unmodified because Git just checked them out and you haven’t edited anything.
As you edit files, Git sees them as modified, because you’ve changed them since your last commit. As you work, you selectively stage these modified files and then commit all those staged changes, and the cycle repeats.
The main tool you use to determine which files are in which state is the git status command. If you run this command directly after a clone, you should see something like this:
$ git status On branch master Your branch is up-to-date with 'origin/master'. nothing to commit, working tree clean
This means you have a clean working directory; in other words, none of your tracked files are modified. Git also doesn’t see any untracked files, or they would be listed here. Finally, the command tells you which branch you’re on and informs you that it has not diverged from the same branch on the server.
Let’s say you add a new file to your project, a simple README file. If the file didn’t exist before, and you run git status, you see your untracked file like so:
$ echo 'Status checking' > README $ git status On branch master Your branch is up-to-date with 'origin/master'. Untracked files: (use "git add <file>..." to include in what will be committed) README nothing added to commit but untracked files present (use "git add" to track)
You can see that your new README file is untracked, because it’s under the “Untracked files” heading in your status output. Untracked basically means that Git sees a file you didn’t have in the previous snapshot (commit), and which hasn’t yet been staged; Git won’t start including it in your commit snapshots until you explicitly tell it to do so. It does this so you don’t accidentally begin including generated binary files or other files that you did not mean to include. You do want to start including README, so let’s start tracking the file in the next lesson.
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