reset, checkout, revert

Commit-level checkout

By now, you should be very familiar with the commit-level version of git checkout. When passed a branch name, it lets you switch between branches.

git checkout hotfix

Internally, all the above command does is move HEAD to a different branch and update the working directory to match. Since this has the potential to overwrite local changes, Git forces you to commit or stash any changes in the working directory that will be lost during the checkout operation. Unlike git reset, git checkout doesn’t move any branches around.


You can also check out arbitrary commits by passing in the commit reference instead of a branch. This does the exact same thing as checking out a branch: it moves the HEAD reference to the specified commit. For example, the following command will check out out the grandparent of the current commit:

git checkout HEAD~2


This is useful for quickly inspecting an old version of your project. However, since there is no branch reference to the current HEAD, this puts you in a detached HEAD state. This can be dangerous if you start adding new commits because there will be no way to get back to them after you switch to another branch. For this reason, you should always create a new branch before adding commits to a detached HEAD.