git-filter-branch - Rewrite branches


   git filter-branch [--env-filter <command>] [--tree-filter <command>]
           [--index-filter <command>] [--parent-filter <command>]
           [--msg-filter <command>] [--commit-filter <command>]
           [--tag-name-filter <command>] [--subdirectory-filter <directory>]
           [--original <namespace>] [-d <directory>] [-f | --force]
           [--] [<rev-list options>...]


   Lets you rewrite Git revision history by rewriting the branches
   mentioned in the <rev-list options>, applying custom filters on each
   revision. Those filters can modify each tree (e.g. removing a file or
   running a perl rewrite on all files) or information about each commit.
   Otherwise, all information (including original commit times or merge
   information) will be preserved.

   The command will only rewrite the positive refs mentioned in the
   command line (e.g. if you pass a..b, only b will be rewritten). If you
   specify no filters, the commits will be recommitted without any
   changes, which would normally have no effect. Nevertheless, this may be
   useful in the future for compensating for some Git bugs or such,
   therefore such a usage is permitted.

   NOTE: This command honors .git/info/grafts file and refs in the
   refs/replace/ namespace. If you have any grafts or replacement refs
   defined, running this command will make them permanent.

   WARNING! The rewritten history will have different object names for all
   the objects and will not converge with the original branch. You will
   not be able to easily push and distribute the rewritten branch on top
   of the original branch. Please do not use this command if you do not
   know the full implications, and avoid using it anyway, if a simple
   single commit would suffice to fix your problem. (See the "RECOVERING
   FROM UPSTREAM REBASE" section in git-rebase(1) for further information
   about rewriting published history.)

   Always verify that the rewritten version is correct: The original refs,
   if different from the rewritten ones, will be stored in the namespace

   Note that since this operation is very I/O expensive, it might be a
   good idea to redirect the temporary directory off-disk with the -d
   option, e.g. on tmpfs. Reportedly the speedup is very noticeable.

   The filters are applied in the order as listed below. The <command>
   argument is always evaluated in the shell context using the eval
   command (with the notable exception of the commit filter, for technical
   reasons). Prior to that, the $GIT_COMMIT environment variable will be
   set to contain the id of the commit being rewritten. Also,
   GIT_COMMITTER_EMAIL, and GIT_COMMITTER_DATE are taken from the current
   commit and exported to the environment, in order to affect the author
   and committer identities of the replacement commit created by git-
   commit-tree(1) after the filters have run.

   If any evaluation of <command> returns a non-zero exit status, the
   whole operation will be aborted.

   A map function is available that takes an "original sha1 id" argument
   and outputs a "rewritten sha1 id" if the commit has been already
   rewritten, and "original sha1 id" otherwise; the map function can
   return several ids on separate lines if your commit filter emitted
   multiple commits.


   --env-filter <command>
       This filter may be used if you only need to modify the environment
       in which the commit will be performed. Specifically, you might want
       to rewrite the author/committer name/email/time environment
       variables (see git-commit-tree(1) for details). Do not forget to
       re-export the variables.

   --tree-filter <command>
       This is the filter for rewriting the tree and its contents. The
       argument is evaluated in shell with the working directory set to
       the root of the checked out tree. The new tree is then used as-is
       (new files are auto-added, disappeared files are auto-removed -
       neither .gitignore files nor any other ignore rules HAVE ANY

   --index-filter <command>
       This is the filter for rewriting the index. It is similar to the
       tree filter but does not check out the tree, which makes it much
       faster. Frequently used with git rm --cached --ignore-unmatch ...,
       see EXAMPLES below. For hairy cases, see git-update-index(1).

   --parent-filter <command>
       This is the filter for rewriting the commit's parent list. It will
       receive the parent string on stdin and shall output the new parent
       string on stdout. The parent string is in the format described in
       git-commit-tree(1): empty for the initial commit, "-p parent" for a
       normal commit and "-p parent1 -p parent2 -p parent3 ..." for a
       merge commit.

   --msg-filter <command>
       This is the filter for rewriting the commit messages. The argument
       is evaluated in the shell with the original commit message on
       standard input; its standard output is used as the new commit

   --commit-filter <command>
       This is the filter for performing the commit. If this filter is
       specified, it will be called instead of the git commit-tree
       command, with arguments of the form "<TREE_ID> [(-p
       <PARENT_COMMIT_ID>)...]" and the log message on stdin. The commit
       id is expected on stdout.

       As a special extension, the commit filter may emit multiple commit
       ids; in that case, the rewritten children of the original commit
       will have all of them as parents.

       You can use the map convenience function in this filter, and other
       convenience functions, too. For example, calling skip_commit "$@"
       will leave out the current commit (but not its changes! If you want
       that, use git rebase instead).

       You can also use the git_commit_non_empty_tree "$@" instead of git
       commit-tree "$@" if you don't wish to keep commits with a single
       parent and that makes no change to the tree.

   --tag-name-filter <command>
       This is the filter for rewriting tag names. When passed, it will be
       called for every tag ref that points to a rewritten object (or to a
       tag object which points to a rewritten object). The original tag
       name is passed via standard input, and the new tag name is expected
       on standard output.

       The original tags are not deleted, but can be overwritten; use
       "--tag-name-filter cat" to simply update the tags. In this case, be
       very careful and make sure you have the old tags backed up in case
       the conversion has run afoul.

       Nearly proper rewriting of tag objects is supported. If the tag has
       a message attached, a new tag object will be created with the same
       message, author, and timestamp. If the tag has a signature
       attached, the signature will be stripped. It is by definition
       impossible to preserve signatures. The reason this is "nearly"
       proper, is because ideally if the tag did not change (points to the
       same object, has the same name, etc.) it should retain any
       signature. That is not the case, signatures will always be removed,
       buyer beware. There is also no support for changing the author or
       timestamp (or the tag message for that matter). Tags which point to
       other tags will be rewritten to point to the underlying commit.

   --subdirectory-filter <directory>
       Only look at the history which touches the given subdirectory. The
       result will contain that directory (and only that) as its project
       root. Implies the section called "Remap to ancestor".

       Some kind of filters will generate empty commits, that left the
       tree untouched. This switch allow git-filter-branch to ignore such
       commits. Though, this switch only applies for commits that have one
       and only one parent, it will hence keep merges points. Also, this
       option is not compatible with the use of --commit-filter. Though
       you just need to use the function git_commit_non_empty_tree "$@"
       instead of the git commit-tree "$@" idiom in your commit filter to
       make that happen.

   --original <namespace>
       Use this option to set the namespace where the original commits
       will be stored. The default value is refs/original.

   -d <directory>
       Use this option to set the path to the temporary directory used for
       rewriting. When applying a tree filter, the command needs to
       temporarily check out the tree to some directory, which may consume
       considerable space in case of large projects. By default it does
       this in the .git-rewrite/ directory but you can override that
       choice by this parameter.

   -f, --force
       git filter-branch refuses to start with an existing temporary
       directory or when there are already refs starting with
       refs/original/, unless forced.

   <rev-list options>...
       Arguments for git rev-list. All positive refs included by these
       options are rewritten. You may also specify options such as --all,
       but you must use -- to separate them from the git filter-branch
       options. Implies the section called "Remap to ancestor".

   Remap to ancestor
   By using git-rev-list(1) arguments, e.g., path limiters, you can limit
   the set of revisions which get rewritten. However, positive refs on the
   command line are distinguished: we don't let them be excluded by such
   limiters. For this purpose, they are instead rewritten to point at the
   nearest ancestor that was not excluded.


   Suppose you want to remove a file (containing confidential information
   or copyright violation) from all commits:

       git filter-branch --tree-filter 'rm filename' HEAD

   However, if the file is absent from the tree of some commit, a simple
   rm filename will fail for that tree and commit. Thus you may instead
   want to use rm -f filename as the script.

   Using --index-filter with git rm yields a significantly faster version.
   Like with using rm filename, git rm --cached filename will fail if the
   file is absent from the tree of a commit. If you want to "completely
   forget" a file, it does not matter when it entered history, so we also
   add --ignore-unmatch:

       git filter-branch --index-filter 'git rm --cached --ignore-unmatch filename' HEAD

   Now, you will get the rewritten history saved in HEAD.

   To rewrite the repository to look as if foodir/ had been its project
   root, and discard all other history:

       git filter-branch --subdirectory-filter foodir -- --all

   Thus you can, e.g., turn a library subdirectory into a repository of
   its own. Note the -- that separates filter-branch options from revision
   options, and the --all to rewrite all branches and tags.

   To set a commit (which typically is at the tip of another history) to
   be the parent of the current initial commit, in order to paste the
   other history behind the current history:

       git filter-branch --parent-filter 'sed "s/^\$/-p <graft-id>/"' HEAD

   (if the parent string is empty - which happens when we are dealing with
   the initial commit - add graftcommit as a parent). Note that this
   assumes history with a single root (that is, no merge without common
   ancestors happened). If this is not the case, use:

       git filter-branch --parent-filter \
               'test $GIT_COMMIT = <commit-id> && echo "-p <graft-id>" || cat' HEAD

   or even simpler:

       echo "$commit-id $graft-id" >> .git/info/grafts
       git filter-branch $graft-id..HEAD

   To remove commits authored by "Darl McBribe" from the history:

       git filter-branch --commit-filter '
               if [ "$GIT_AUTHOR_NAME" = "Darl McBribe" ];
                       skip_commit "$@";
                       git commit-tree "$@";
               fi' HEAD

   The function skip_commit is defined as follows:

               while [ -n "$1" ];
                       map "$1";

   The shift magic first throws away the tree id and then the -p
   parameters. Note that this handles merges properly! In case Darl
   committed a merge between P1 and P2, it will be propagated properly and
   all children of the merge will become merge commits with P1,P2 as their
   parents instead of the merge commit.

   NOTE the changes introduced by the commits, and which are not reverted
   by subsequent commits, will still be in the rewritten branch. If you
   want to throw out changes together with the commits, you should use the
   interactive mode of git rebase.

   You can rewrite the commit log messages using --msg-filter. For
   example, git svn-id strings in a repository created by git svn can be
   removed this way:

       git filter-branch --msg-filter '
               sed -e "/^git-svn-id:/d"

   If you need to add Acked-by lines to, say, the last 10 commits (none of
   which is a merge), use this command:

       git filter-branch --msg-filter '
               cat &&
               echo "Acked-by: Bugs Bunny <>"
       ' HEAD~10..HEAD

   The --env-filter option can be used to modify committer and/or author
   identity. For example, if you found out that your commits have the
   wrong identity due to a misconfigured, you can make a
   correction, before publishing the project, like this:

       git filter-branch --env-filter '
               if test "$GIT_AUTHOR_EMAIL" = "root@localhost"
                       export GIT_AUTHOR_EMAIL
               if test "$GIT_COMMITTER_EMAIL" = "root@localhost"
                       export GIT_COMMITTER_EMAIL
       ' -- --all

   To restrict rewriting to only part of the history, specify a revision
   range in addition to the new branch name. The new branch name will
   point to the top-most revision that a git rev-list of this range will

   Consider this history:

           /     /

   To rewrite only commits D,E,F,G,H, but leave A, B and C alone, use:

       git filter-branch ... C..H

   To rewrite commits E,F,G,H, use one of these:

       git filter-branch ... C..H --not D
       git filter-branch ... D..H --not C

   To move the whole tree into a subdirectory, or remove it from there:

       git filter-branch --index-filter \
               'git ls-files -s | sed "s-\t\"*-&newsubdir/-" |
                       GIT_INDEX_FILE=$ \
                               git update-index --index-info &&
                mv "$" "$GIT_INDEX_FILE"' HEAD


   git-filter-branch can be used to get rid of a subset of files, usually
   with some combination of --index-filter and --subdirectory-filter.
   People expect the resulting repository to be smaller than the original,
   but you need a few more steps to actually make it smaller, because Git
   tries hard not to lose your objects until you tell it to. First make
   sure that:

   *   You really removed all variants of a filename, if a blob was moved
       over its lifetime.  git log --name-only --follow --all -- filename
       can help you find renames.

   *   You really filtered all refs: use --tag-name-filter cat -- --all
       when calling git-filter-branch.

   Then there are two ways to get a smaller repository. A safer way is to
   clone, that keeps your original intact.

   *   Clone it with git clone file:///path/to/repo. The clone will not
       have the removed objects. See git-clone(1). (Note that cloning with
       a plain path just hardlinks everything!)

   If you really don't want to clone it, for whatever reasons, check the
   following points instead (in this order). This is a very destructive
   approach, so make a backup or go back to cloning it. You have been

   *   Remove the original refs backed up by git-filter-branch: say git
       for-each-ref --format="%(refname)" refs/original/ | xargs -n 1 git
       update-ref -d.

   *   Expire all reflogs with git reflog expire --expire=now --all.

   *   Garbage collect all unreferenced objects with git gc --prune=now
       (or if your git-gc is not new enough to support arguments to
       --prune, use git repack -ad; git prune instead).


   git-filter-branch allows you to make complex shell-scripted rewrites of
   your Git history, but you probably don't need this flexibility if
   you're simply removing unwanted data like large files or passwords. For
   those operations you may want to consider The BFG Repo-Cleaner[1], a
   JVM-based alternative to git-filter-branch, typically at least 10-50x
   faster for those use-cases, and with quite different characteristics:

   *   Any particular version of a file is cleaned exactly once. The BFG,
       unlike git-filter-branch, does not give you the opportunity to
       handle a file differently based on where or when it was committed
       within your history. This constraint gives the core performance
       benefit of The BFG, and is well-suited to the task of cleansing bad
       data - you don't care where the bad data is, you just want it gone.

   *   By default The BFG takes full advantage of multi-core machines,
       cleansing commit file-trees in parallel. git-filter-branch cleans
       commits sequentially (i.e. in a single-threaded manner), though it
       is possible to write filters that include their own parallelism, in
       the scripts executed against each commit.

   *   The command options[2] are much more restrictive than git-filter
       branch, and dedicated just to the tasks of removing unwanted data-
       e.g: --strip-blobs-bigger-than 1M.


   Part of the git(1) suite


    1. The BFG Repo-Cleaner

    2. command options


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