What to do with commit made in a detached head

GitGit Checkout

Git Problem Overview

Using git I made something like this

git clone
git checkout {a rev number tree rev before} (here I started to be in a detached head state)
git commit
git commit
(some commit where made on origin/master)
git pull (which does complete because there was some error due to the fact that I'm no more on master)

Because it said to me that I can still commit when in a detached head state, I did so. But now I want to like merge my detached head branch and my local master branch, and then push my bunch of changes to origin/master.

So my question is how could I merge the master branch with my actual state (detached head)

Git Solutions

Solution 1 - Git

Create a branch where you are, then switch to master and merge it:

git branch my-temporary-work
git checkout master
git merge my-temporary-work

Solution 2 - Git

You could do something like this.

# Create temporary branch for your detached head
git branch tmp

# Go to master
git checkout master

# Merge in commits from previously detached head
git merge tmp

# Delete temporary branch
git branch -d tmp

Even simpler would be

git checkout master
git merge HEAD@{1}

but this has the slight danger that if you do make a mistake it can be a little harder to recover the commits made on the detached head.

Solution 3 - Git

This is what I did:

Basically, think of the detached HEAD as a new branch, without name. You can commit into this branch just like any other branch. Once you are done committing, you want to push it to the remote.

So the first thing you need to do is give this detached HEAD a name. You can easily do it like, while being on this detached HEAD:

git checkout -b some-new-branch

Now you can push it to remote like any other branch.

In my case, I also wanted to fast-forward this branch to master along with the commits I made in the detached HEAD (now some-new-branch). All I did was

git checkout master

git pull # To make sure my local copy of master is up to date

git checkout some-new-branch

git merge master // This added current state of master to my changes

Of course, I merged it later to master.

That's about it.

Solution 4 - Git

You can just do git merge <commit-number> or git cherry-pick <commit> <commit> ...

As suggested by Ryan Stewart you may also create a branch from the current HEAD:

git branch brand-name

Or just a tag:

git tag tag-name

Solution 5 - Git

Alternatively, you could cherry-pick the commit-id onto your branch.

<commit-id> made in detached head state

git checkout master

git cherry-pick <commit-id>

No temporary branches, no merging.

Solution 6 - Git

In case of detached HEAD, commits work like normal, except no named branch gets updated. To get master branch updated with your committed changes, make a temporary branch where you are (this way the temporary branch will have all the committed changes you have made in the detached HEAD) , then switch to the master branch and merge the temporary branch with the master.

git branch  temp
git checkout master
git merge temp

Solution 7 - Git

I see everyone almost everyone has suggested a solution where a temporary branch is being created. Now, one needs to admit that whenever this "committed in a detached state" issue arises, it's generally detected after one commit. And creating one whole branch for that one puny commit - Sounds too much, right? Especially in projects where you are already jumping around among too many branches.

What's the easy way then? Use the commit hash!

How do I get that?

  1. Do a git log. You would see something like this:
commit 10bf8fe4d17bb7de59586a7abb6db321f0786bb3 (HEAD)
Author: Someone <[email protected]>
Date:   So/me/day SO:ME:TI:ME 

    A commit message that doesn't mean much

commit a3cd1cedf1962916cdc2945f2bd2b271ec8b919d (origin/master, master)
Author: Someone <[email protected]>
Date:   Some/other/day SOME:OTHER:TIME 

    Another commit message that doesn't mean much

commit 1bfabbe09c70419070fe29ff1ed276c0207bbe10
Author: Someone <[email protected]>
Date:   Thu Jul 8 08:38:12 2021 +0530

    Enough reading the example, focus on the answer!! 

Now, although it looks like a normal case, but when you do a git push it would say "Everything up-to-date".

A careful person would see that it's not "up-to-date". HEAD is somewhere other than the master.

  1. So, what next? Just copy the initial chars of the hash 10bf8fe4d1. And first, do a git checkout master. This would move you to master branch. And now since you have already copied the hash. You can do a git merge <hash>. Do a git log now


commit 10bf8fe4d17bb7de59586a7abb6db321f0786bb3 (HEAD -> master)
Author: Someone <[email protected]>
Date:   S/om/eday SO:ME:TI:ME 

    A commit message that doesn't mean much

commit a3cd1cedf1962916cdc2945f2bd2b271ec8b919d (origin/master)
Author: Someone <[email protected]>
Date:   Some/other/day SOME:OTHER:TIME 

    Another commit message that doesn't mean much

commit 1bfabbe09c70419070fe29ff1ed276c0207bbe10
Author: Someone <[email protected]>
Date:   Thu Jul 8 08:38:12 2021 +0530

    Enough reading the example, focus on the answer!! 

Now, the HEAD seems to be in a proper place.

Someone might ask, "What if I don't have the hash? I didn't know anything about the dangling commit and just did a git checkout master." Don't worry, I've got you covered. You can find the commit hash in two places:

  1. When you did the git checkout master, git had warned you like this
Warning: you are leaving 1 commit behind, not connected to
any of your branches:

  10bf8fe A commit message that doesn't mean much

If you want to keep it by creating a new branch, this may be a good time
to do so with:

 git branch <new-branch-name> 10bf8fe

Switched to branch 'master'

You can see your treasure (hash), right?

  1. Don't tell me you can't find it. It's right there. But if you really can't, then you can do a git reflog. It will show you something like this:
a3cd1ce (HEAD -> master, origin/master) HEAD@{0}: checkout: moving from 10bf8fe4d17bb7de59586a7abb6db321f0786bb3 to master
10bf8fe HEAD@{1}: commit:  A commit message that doesn't mean much

You see that there's the treasure you were looking for... The hash.

I guess this covers all possible scenarios that could happen in a detached state with a dangling commit. Beware next time!!

Solution 8 - Git

An easy fix is to just create a new branch for that commit and checkout to it: git checkout -b <branch-name> <commit-hash>.

In this way, all the changes you made will be saved in that branch. In case you need to clean up your master branch from leftover commits be sure to run git reset --hard master.

With this, you will be rewriting your branches so be sure not to disturb anyone with these changes. Be sure to take a look at this article for a better illustration of detached HEAD state.

Solution 9 - Git

checkout actual-branch

git merge {{commit-hash}}

Solution 10 - Git

Maybe not the best solution, (will rewrite history) but you could also do git reset --hard <hash of detached head commit>.

Solution 11 - Git

When I did the checkout leading to detached head, git actually tells me what to do in such a case:

> git switch -c \<new-branchname>

The result leafs the master as before detaching the head and the new branch containing all the commits made while working in the detached head state.

To reproduce/test/understand in more details:

  1. creating a testrepo with two commits:

> ~/gittest$ git log --oneline > 17c34c0 (HEAD -> master) 2 > 5975930 1

  1. checkout previous commit 1

>~/gittest$ git checkout 5975930

This German message shows up > Hinweis: Wechsle zu '5975930'. > > Sie befinden sich im Zustand eines 'losgelösten HEAD'. Sie können sich > umschauen, experimentelle Änderungen vornehmen und diese committen, > und Sie können alle möglichen Commits, die Sie in diesem Zustand > machen, ohne Auswirkungen auf irgendeinen Branch verwerfen, indem Sie > zu einem anderen Branch wechseln. > > Wenn Sie einen neuen Branch erstellen möchten, um Ihre erstellten > Commits zu behalten, können Sie das (jetzt oder später) durch Nutzung > von 'switch' mit der Option -c tun. Beispiel: > > git switch -c \<neuer-Branchname> > > Oder um diese Operation rückgängig zu machen: git switch - > > Sie können diesen Hinweis ausschalten, indem Sie die > Konfigurationsvariable 'advice.detachedHead' auf 'false' setzen. > > HEAD ist jetzt bei 5975930 1

which translates to English as:

> Note: Change to '5975930'. > > You are in the state of a 'detached HEAD'. You can look around, make experimental changes and commit them, and you can discard any > possible commits you make in this state without affecting any branch > by switching to another branch. > > If you want to create a new branch to keep your created commits, you can do that (now or later) by using 'switch' with the -c option. > Example: > > git switch -c <new-branch-name>. > > Or to undo this operation: git switch -. > > You can turn off this hint by setting the configuration variable 'advice.detachedHead' to 'false'. > > HEAD is now at 5975930 1

(Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version))


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QuestionbenzenView Question on Stackoverflow
Solution 1 - GitRyan StewartView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 2 - GitCB BaileyView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 3 - GitBhushanView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 4 - GitArnaud Le BlancView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 5 - GitNate WilsonView Answer on Stackoverflow
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Solution 7 - GitparadocsloverView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 8 - GitNesha ZoricView Answer on Stackoverflow
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Solution 11 - GitSimeonView Answer on Stackoverflow