How to create a branch from a Git commit

Greg Foster
Greg Foster
Graphite software engineer

Creating a new branch from a specific commit can be useful in many scenarios, such as recovering lost changes, starting a new feature based on an older stable state, or simply exploring what-if scenarios from a certain point in the project's history. Creating a branch from a commit involves pointing a new branch reference to a specific commit in the repository's history.

This guide explains how to create a branch from a commit in Git, covering various scenarios and commands.

First, you need to locate the commit from which you want to create a new branch. You can find the commit ID by looking at the repository's log:

git log --oneline

This command will display a simplified commit history. Identify the commit hash (a short SHA-1 hash) for the commit from which you want to branch off.

Once you have identified the commit hash, you can create a new branch from it using the following command:

git branch <new-branch-name> <commit-hash>

Replace <new-branch-name> with your desired branch name and <commit-hash> with the actual commit hash.

For example:

git branch feature-update 9fceb02

This command creates a new branch called feature-update from the commit with the hash 9fceb02.

If you want to switch to the new branch immediately, use:

git checkout <new-branch-name>

Alternatively, you can create the branch and check it out in one step with:

git checkout -b <new-branch-name> <commit-hash>

If you wish to create a new branch but stay on your current branch, simply use the git branch command without the checkout:

git branch <new-branch-name> <commit-hash>

This is useful when you need to create multiple branches or do not want to disrupt your current workflow.

  • Creating a branch from an old or previous commit: If the commit is far back in the history, or you want to branch from a commit that is not the latest, follow the steps outlined but ensure you have the correct commit hash from the git log.

  • Creating a branch after making changes: If you have made changes and want to preserve them in a new branch, first stash your changes:

    git stash

    This command takes both your staged and unstaged changes and saves them in a local stack-like structure called a "stash." It then reverts your working directory and index to match the HEAD commit, essentially giving you a clean working state without losing your changes.

    Once your changes are stashed, create and checkout the new branch as described above, and finally apply your stashed changes:

    git stash pop

    This command removes the top stash from the stack and applies the changes contained in it to your current working branch. If there's a conflict between the stashed changes and the current branch's state, you'll be prompted to resolve these conflicts manually.

To learn more about branching in Git, see the official Git documentation.

Stay unblocked. Ship faster.
Experience the new developer workflow - create, review, and merge code continuously. Get started with one command.
Get started

Give your PR workflow
an upgrade today

Stack easier | Ship smaller | Review quicker

Or install our CLI.
Product Screenshot 1
Product Screenshot 2