How to squash and merge in Git

Greg Foster
Greg Foster
Graphite software engineer

Git merge squash is a merging strategy that allows you to take an entire branch's commit history and condense it into a single commit upon merging. This process is beneficial for keeping your main branch's history neat and manageable, without the clutter of often numerous and potentially messy intermediate commits that a feature branch might contain.

  • Cleaner history: Squashing commits can lead to a much cleaner, linear history, making it easier to navigate and understand.
  • Easier code review: A single commit means just one set of changes to review, as opposed to trying to understand multiple commits that may include fixes, reversals, and re-attempts.
  • Simplified revert process: If something goes wrong, you only need to revert a single commit.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to squash commits:

Before merging, make sure your feature branch is up to date with the latest changes from your main branch (typically main or develop). You can do this by running:

git checkout feature-branch
git pull origin main # Ensure the feature branch is updated

To start the merging process with squashing, use the following command from the main branch:

git checkout main
git merge --squash feature-branch

This command prepares the changes from feature-branch to be merged into main but doesn't actually commit them. Your staging area will now contain the changes from all the commits that were in feature-branch.

Before committing, you can review the changes that are staged for commit:

git status # Check which files are staged for commit
git diff --staged # Review the changes in detail

This is your opportunity to make sure that everything looks right and no unintended changes are included.

Once you're satisfied with the changes, commit them:

git commit -m "Describe the feature or changes being merged"

This step creates a single new commit on the main branch that represents all the changes that were previously spread across multiple commits in the feature-branch.

After the commit, push your changes to the remote repository:

git push origin main
  • Use descriptive commit messages: Since the squash merge condenses many changes into one commit, it’s crucial to use a clear, descriptive commit message that explains why the changes were made.
  • Regular communication: If you're working in a team, keep others informed about the squash merges, as they might be looking for their commits in the main branch history.
  • Consider the context: Squash merging is great for feature branches or working branches with many intermediate commits. However, for branches with significant, distinct changes, consider a standard merge to preserve the context of each commit.

For further reading see the official Git documentation.

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