Make an existing Git branch track a remote branch?

I know how to make a new branch that tracks remote branches, but how do I make an existing branch track a remote branch?

I know I can just edit the .git/config file, but it seems there should be an easier way.

Answers


Given a branch foo and a remote upstream:

As of Git 1.8.0:

git branch -u upstream/foo

Or, if local branch foo is not the current branch:

git branch -u upstream/foo foo

Or, if you like to type longer commands, these are equivalent to the above two:

git branch --set-upstream-to=upstream/foo

git branch --set-upstream-to=upstream/foo foo

As of Git 1.7.0:

git branch --set-upstream foo upstream/foo

Notes:

All of the above commands will cause local branch foo to track remote branch foo from remote upstream. The old (1.7.x) syntax is deprecated in favor of the new (1.8+) syntax. The new syntax is intended to be more intuitive and easier to remember.


See also: Git: Why do I need to do `--set-upstream` all the time?


You can do the following (assuming you are checked out on master and want to push to a remote branch master):

Set up the 'remote' if you don't have it already

# git remote add origin ssh://...

Now configure master to know to track:

# git config branch.master.remote origin
# git config branch.master.merge refs/heads/master

And push:

# git push origin master

I do this as a side-effect of pushing with the -u option as in

$ git push -u origin branch-name

The equivalent long option is --set-upstream.

The git-branch command also understands --set-upstream, but its use can be confusing. Version 1.8.0 modifies the interface.

git branch --set-upstream is deprecated and may be removed in a relatively distant future. git branch [-u|--set-upstream-to] has been introduced with a saner order of arguments.

It was tempting to say git branch --set-upstream origin/master, but that tells Git to arrange the local branch "origin/master" to integrate with the currently checked out branch, which is highly unlikely what the user meant. The option is deprecated; use the new --set-upstream-to (with a short-and-sweet -u) option instead.

Say you have a local foo branch and want it to treat the branch by the same name as its upstream. Make this happen with

$ git branch foo
$ git branch --set-upstream-to=origin/foo

or just

$ git branch --set-upstream-to=origin/foo foo

You might find the git_remote_branch tool useful. It offers simple commands for creating, publishing, deleting, tracking & renaming remote branches. One nice feature is that you can ask a grb command to explain what git commands it would execute.

grb explain create my_branch github
# git_remote_branch version 0.3.0

# List of operations to do to create a new remote branch and track it locally:
git push github master:refs/heads/my_branch
git fetch github
git branch --track my_branch github/my_branch
git checkout my_branch

Actually for the accepted answer to work:

git remote add upstream <remote-url>
git fetch upstream
git branch -f --track qa upstream/qa
# OR:
git branch --set-upstream qa upstream/qa

I believe that in as early as Git 1.5.x you could make a local branch $BRANCH track a remote branch origin/$BRANCH, like this.

Given that $BRANCH and origin/$BRANCH exist, and you've not currently checked out $BRANCH (switch away if you have), do:

git branch -f --track $BRANCH origin/$BRANCH

This recreates $BRANCH as a tracking branch. The -f forces the creation despite $BRANCH existing already. --track is optional if the usual defaults are in place (that is, the git-config parameter branch.autosetupmerge is true).

Note, if origin/$BRANCH doesn't exist yet, you can create it by pushing your local $BRANCH into the remote repository with:

git push origin $BRANCH

Followed by the previous command to promote the local branch into a tracking branch.


Editing .git/config is probably the easiest and fastest way. That's what the Git commands for handling remote branches are doing, anyway.

If you don't want to muck with the file by hand (and it's not that hard to do), you can always use git config to do it...but again, that's just going to edit the .git/config file, anyway.

There are, of course, ways to automatically track a remote branch when using git checkout (by passing the --track flag, for example), but these commands work with new branches, not existing ones.


Make sure you run :

git config push.default tracking

to be able to push trouble free


In very short

git branch --set-upstream yourLocalBranchName origin/develop

This will make your yourLocalBranchName track the remote branch called develop.


For 1.6.x, it can be done using the git_remote_branch tool:

grb track foo upstream

That will cause Git to make foo track upstream/foo.


In a somewhat related way I was trying to add a remote tracking branch to an existing branch, but did not have access to that remote repository on the system where I wanted to add that remote tracking branch on (because I frequently export a copy of this repo via sneakernet to another system that has the access to push to that remote). I found that there was no way to force adding a remote branch on the local that hadn't been fetched yet (so local did not know that the branch existed on the remote and I would get the error: the requested upstream branch 'origin/remotebranchname' does not exist).

In the end I managed to add the new, previously unknown remote branch (without fetching) by adding a new head file at .git/refs/remotes/origin/remotebranchname and then copying the ref (eyeballing was quickest, lame as it was ;-) from the system with access to the origin repo to the workstation (with the local repo where I was adding the remote branch on).

Once that was done, I could then use git branch --set-upstream-to=origin/remotebranchname


I use the following command:

$ git branch --set-upstream-to=branch-name origin/branch-name

Here, using github and git version 2.1.4, just do:

$ git clone git@github.com:user/repo.git

And remotes come by itelsef, even if not linked locally:

$ git remote show origin

* remote origin
  Fetch URL: git@github.com:user/repo.git
  Push  URL: git@github.com:user/repo.git
  HEAD branch: master
  Remote branches:
    develop tracked         <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
    master  tracked
  Local branch configured for 'git pull':
    master merges with remote master
  Local ref configured for 'git push':
    master pushes to master (up to date)

But of course, still no local branch:

$ git branch
* master                  <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

See? Now if you just checkout develp, it will do the magic automatically:

$ git checkout develop
Branch develop set up to track remote branch develop from origin.
Switched to a new branch 'develop'

So easy!


Summary. Just run this 2 commands:

$ git clone git@github.com:user/repo.git
$ git checkout develop

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