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Tracking vs Non-Tracking Branch in Git


This Gemstone delves into tracking and non-tracking branches in Git. It also includes steps to verify and convert between the branch types.

Tracking Branch

A tracking branch is a branch that is linked to a remote branch.

  1. Create a new branch named my-local-branch. Make the new local branch track the main branch of the remote repository named origin. Type:

    git checkout -b my-local-branch origin/main
  2. Use the git branch -vv command to verify that the branch is a tracking branch. Type:

    git branch -vv

    Look for branches with [origin/main] indicating they are tracking origin/main.

Non-Tracking Branch

A non-tracking branch is a branch that operates independently from remote branches.

  1. Create a new non-tracking local branch named my-feature-branch. Type:

    git checkout -b my-feature-branch
  2. Non-tracking branches won’t show a remote branch next to them in the git branch -vv output. Check if my-feature-branch is a non-tracking branch.

Converting Non-Tracking to Tracking

  1. Optionally, first make sure the latest changes from the main branch are merged into the target branch. Type:

    git checkout my-feature-branch
    git merge main
  2. Set up tracking to a remote branch:

    git branch --set-upstream-to=origin/main my-feature-branch

    Output: Branch 'my-feature-branch' set up to track remote branch 'main' from 'origin'.

  3. Verify the change. Type:

    git branch -vv

    Now, my-feature-branch should show [origin/main] indicating it's tracking.


Understanding the nuances between tracking and non-tracking branches is vital in Git. This Gemstone clarifies these concepts and also demonstrates how to identify and convert between these branch types for optimal git workflow management.

Author: Wale Soyinka