Fuzzy git checkout

Using fzf for git checkout.

First things first, let’s see the goods!

Demo of git checkout with fzf

The above image has a list of git branches to checkout on the left hand side. The list of branches can be fuzzy filtered. On the right hand side, it shows a git log of the selected branch that you can scroll it with the mouse or Shift-up/Shift-down.

Why do this? For fun and profit! For me, git checkout, even with nice tab completion, can get a bit cumbersome. Especially for work related branches that often have ticket IDs in them.

How? Some simple functions can do it (tested in zsh). Here is the first:

fzf-git-branch() {
    git rev-parse HEAD > /dev/null 2>&1 || return

    git branch --color=always --all --sort=-committerdate |
        grep -v HEAD |
        fzf --height 50% --ansi --no-multi --preview-window right:65% \
            --preview 'git log -n 50 --color=always --date=short --pretty="format:%C(auto)%cd %h%d %s" $(sed "s/.* //" <<< {})' |
        sed "s/.* //"

Let’s break it down! The first line just checks if we are in a git repository, if no, bail. The second line is a series of commands piped together. It might look like a mess at first, but here it is broken down:

  1. First list all the branches and sort them so most recent is at the bottom of the fzf menu. Most likely going to checkout a branch that has been recently edited.

    git branch --color=always --all --sort=-committerdate
  2. Then filter out any branches branches with HEAD in it. Usually this is something like remotes/origin/HEAD -> origin/master which isn’t helpful for what we are doing.

    grep -v HEAD
  3. Then send all the branches to fzf. Use man fzf to see what the parameters mean, but it’s mostly all for customizing the display. The preview is just running git log on the currently selected branch with some formatting and limiting to 50 commits.

    fzf --height 50% --ansi --no-multi --preview-window right:65% \
            --preview 'git log -n 50 --color=always --date=short --pretty="format:%C(auto)%cd %h%d %s" $(sed "s/.* //" <<< {})'
  4. Lastly, the selected branch from fzf is filtered through sed to remove the asterisk and leading whitespace.

    sed "s/.* //"

Once you figure out how it all works, you can start to customize it to suite your own needs. Maybe you want a different preview, change sorting, no remote branches, etc.

This function by itself isn’t that great. All it does is print the branch. For example, you can do something like:

git checkout -b testing $(fzf-git-branch)

Which works, but it’s a little wonky. Let’s say you don’t select a branch (forgot to fetch), hitting Esc will cancel the selection, but the git command will still run. We can do better.

fzf-git-checkout() {
    git rev-parse HEAD > /dev/null 2>&1 || return

    local branch

    if [[ "$branch" = "" ]]; then
        echo "No branch selected."

    # If branch name starts with 'remotes/' then it is a remote branch. By
    # using --track and a remote branch name, it is the same as:
    # git checkout -b branchName --track origin/branchName
    if [[ "$branch" = 'remotes/'* ]]; then
        git checkout --track $branch
        git checkout $branch;

This is a simple wrapper function to our previous one. It lets you select a branch and then runs git checkout for you. If you selected a remote branch, it’ll use the --track option. I like the --track option because it errors out if the branch already exists locally. If that’s the case, then I would likely want to instead checkout the local branch and update it from the remote.

Of course, typing these long function names is a terrible idea, use aliases:

alias gb='fzf-git-branch'
alias gco='fzf-git-checkout'

That’s it! Fun way to checkout branches. I got inspiration for this from the fzf wiki and this gist from the fzf author.

fzf  git 

See also