How to make Git “forget” about a file that was tracked, but is now in .gitignore? [Answered]

Query explained:

There is a file that was being tracked by Git, but now the file is on the .gitignore list.

However, that file keeps showing up in git status after it’s edited. How do you force Git to completely forget about it?

How to .gitignore a tracked file in git? Answer #1:

.gitignore will prevent untracked files from being added (without an add -f) to the set of files tracked by Git, however, Git will continue to track any files that are already being tracked.

To stop tracking a file you need to remove it from the index. This can be achieved with this command.

git rm --cached <file>

If you want to remove a whole folder, you need to remove all files in it recursively.

git rm -r --cached <folder>

The removal of the file from the head revision will happen on the next commit.

WARNING: While this will not remove the physical file from your local, it will remove the files from other developers machines on next git pull.

Answer #2:

The series of commands below will remove all of the items from the Git index (not from the working directory or local repository), and then will update the Git index, while respecting Git ignores. PS. Index = Cache


git rm -r --cached .
git add .


git commit -am "Remove ignored files"

Or as a one-liner:

git rm -r --cached . && git add . && git commit -am "Remove ignored files"

Answer #3:

git update-index does the job for me:

git update-index --assume-unchanged <file>

Note: This solution is actually independent on .gitignore as .gitignore is only for untracked files.

Update, a better option

Since this answer was posted, a new option has been created and that should be preferred. You should use --skip-worktree which is for modified tracked files that the user don’t want to commit anymore and keep --assume-unchanged for performance to prevent git to check the status of big tracked files.

git update-index --skip-worktree <file>

To cancel-

git update-index --no-skip-worktree <file>

How to make Git “forget” about a file that was tracked, but is now in .gitignore? Answer #4:

git ls-files --ignored --exclude-standard -z | xargs -0 git rm --cached
git commit -am "Remove ignored files"

This takes the list of the ignored files, removes them from the index, and commits the changes.

Answer #5:

I always use this command to remove those untracked files. One-line, Unix-style, clean output:

git ls-files --ignored --exclude-standard | sed 's/.*/"&"/' | xargs git rm -r --cached

It lists all your ignored files, replaces every output line with a quoted line instead to handle paths with spaces inside, and passes everything to git rm -r --cached to remove the paths/files/directories from the index.

How to .gitignore an already tracked file in git? Answer #6:

Move it out, commit, and then move it back in.

This has worked for me in the past, but there is probably a ‘gittier’ way to accomplish this.

Answer #7:

Use this when:

  1. You want to untrack a lot of files, or
  2. You updated your .gitignore file

Source: Untrack files already added to Git repository based on .gitignore

Let’s say you have already added/committed some files to your Git repository and you then add them to your .gitignore file; these files will still be present in your repository index. This article we will see how to get rid of them.

Step 1: Commit all your changes

Before proceeding, make sure all your changes are committed, including your .gitignore file.

Step 2: Remove everything from the repository

To clear your repository, use:

git rm -r --cached .
  • rm is the remove command
  • -r will allow recursive removal
  • –cached will only remove files from the index. Your files will still be there.

The rm command can be unforgiving. If you wish to try what it does beforehand, add the -n or --dry-run flag to test things out.

Step 3: Readd everything

git add .

Step 4: Commit

git commit -m ".gitignore fix"

Your repository is clean 🙂

Push the changes to your remote to see the changes effective there as well.

Hope you learned something from this post.

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

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