How to force “git pull” to overwrite local files? [Answered]

How do I force an overwrite of local files on a git pull?

The scenario is the following:

  • A team member is modifying the templates for a website we are working on
  • They are adding some images to the images directory (but forgets to add them under source control)
  • They are sending the images by mail, later, to me
  • I’m adding the images under the source control and pushing them to GitHub together with other changes
  • They cannot pull updates from GitHub because Git doesn’t want to overwrite their files.

This is the error I’m getting:

error: Untracked working tree file ‘public/images/icon.gif’ would be overwritten by merge

How do I force Git to overwrite them? The person is a designer – usually, I resolve all the conflicts by hand, so the server has the most recent version that they just need to update on their computer.

How to force “git pull” to overwrite local files? Answer #1:

⚠ Important: If you have any local changes, they will be lost. With or without --hard option, any local commits that haven’t been pushed will be lost.[*]

If you have any files that are not tracked by Git (e.g. uploaded user content), these files will not be affected.


First, run a fetch to update all origin/<branch> refs to latest:

git fetch --all

Backup your current branch:

git branch backup-master

Then, you have two options:

git reset --hard origin/master

OR If you are on some other branch:

git reset --hard origin/<branch_name>

Explanation:

git fetch downloads the latest from remote without trying to merge or rebase anything.

Then the git reset resets the master branch to what you just fetched. The --hard option changes all the files in your working tree to match the files in origin/master


Maintain current local commits

[*]: It’s worth noting that it is possible to maintain current local commits by creating a branch from master before resetting:

git checkout master
git branch new-branch-to-save-current-commits
git fetch --all
git reset --hard origin/master

After this, all of the old commits will be kept in new-branch-to-save-current-commits.

Uncommitted changes

Uncommitted changes, however (even staged), will be lost. Make sure to stash and commit anything you need. For that you can run the following:

git stash

And then to reapply these uncommitted changes:

git stash pop

Answer #2:

Try this:

git reset --hard HEAD
git pull

It should do what you want.

Answer #3:

WARNING: git clean deletes all your untracked files/directories and can’t be undone.


Sometimes just clean -f does not help. In case you have untracked DIRECTORIES, -d option also needed:

# WARNING: this can't be undone!

git reset --hard HEAD
git clean -f -d
git pull

WARNING: git clean deletes all your untracked files/directories and can’t be undone.

Consider using -n (--dry-run) flag first. This will show you what will be deleted without actually deleting anything:

git clean -n -f -d

Example output:

Would remove untracked-file-1.txt
Would remove untracked-file-2.txt
Would remove untracked/folder
...

Answer #4:

Like Hedgehog I think the answers are terrible. But though Hedgehog’s answer might be better, I don’t think it is as elegant as it could be. The way I found to do this is by using fetch and merge with a defined strategy. Which should make it so that your local changes are preserved as long as they are not one of the files that you are trying to force an overwrite with.

First do a commit of your changes

 git add *
 git commit -a -m "local file server commit message"

Then fetch the changes and overwrite if there is a conflict

 git fetch origin master
 git merge -s recursive -X theirs origin/master

-X is an option name, and theirs is the value for that option. You’re choosing to use their changes (the other option is ours changes) if there is a conflict.

force git pull – Answer #5:

Instead of doing:

git fetch --all
git reset --hard origin/master

I’d advise doing the following:

git fetch origin master
git reset --hard origin/master

No need to fetch all remotes and branches if you’re going to reset to the origin/master branch right?

Answer #6:

It looks like the best way is to first do:

git clean

To delete all untracked files and then continue with the usual git pull.

Answer #7:

Some answers seem to be terrible.

Rather (git > v1.7.6):

git stash --include-untracked
git pull

Later you can clean the stash history.

Manually, one-by-one:

$ git stash list
[email protected]{0}: WIP on <branch>: ...
[email protected]{1}: WIP on <branch>: ...

$ git stash drop [email protected]{0}
$ git stash drop [email protected]{1}

Brutally, all-at-once:

$ git stash clear

Of course if you want to go back to what you stashed:

$ git stash list
...
$ git stash apply [email protected]{5}

Answer #8:

You might find this command helpful to throw away local changes:

git checkout <your-branch> -f

And then do a cleanup (removes untracked files from the working tree):

git clean -f

If you want to remove untracked directories in addition to untracked files:

git clean -fd

Answer #9:

Instead of merging with git pull, try this:

git fetch --all

followed by:

git reset --hard origin/master.

Answer #10:

The only thing that worked for me was:

git reset --hard HEAD~5

This will take you back five commits and then with

git pull

Answer #11:

The problem with all these solutions is that they are all either too complex or, an even bigger problem, is that they remove all untracked files from the webserver, which we don’t want since there are always needed configuration files which are on the server and not in the Git repository.

Here is the cleanest solution which we are using:

# Fetch the newest code
git fetch

# Delete all files which are being added, so there
# are no conflicts with untracked files
for file in `git diff HEAD..origin/master --name-status | awk '/^A/ {print $2}'`
do
    rm -f -- "$file"
done

# Checkout all files which were locally modified
for file in `git diff --name-status | awk '/^[CDMRTUX]/ {print $2}'`
do
    git checkout -- "$file"
done

# Finally pull all the changes
# (you could merge as well e.g. 'merge origin/master')
git pull
  • The first command fetches the newest data.
  • The second command checks if there are any files that are being added to the repository and deletes those untracked files from the local repository which would cause conflicts.
  • The third command checks-out all the files which were locally modified.
  • Finally, we do a pull to update to the newest version, but this time without any conflicts, since untracked files which are in the repo don’t exist anymore and all the locally modified files are already the same as in the repository.

Hope you learned something from this post.

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Linux and Python enthusiast, in love with open source since 2014, Writer at programming-articles.com, India.

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