Git switch vs Git checkout

Greg Foster
Greg Foster
Graphite software engineer

Git is a popular distributed version control system that helps developers track changes to their code. However, it's not uncommon for users to encounter errors. One common confusion arises between the use of git switch and git checkout commands. This guide aims to provide understanding and solutions to common issues that might arise from this confusion, impacting your Git operations.

  1. Understanding the differencegit checkout is a versatile command that can be used for switching branches and updating files in your working directory. On the other hand, git switch is a newer command introduced to simplify the process of switching between branches.
# Using git checkout to switch branch
git checkout <branch-name>
# Using git switch to switch branch
git switch <branch-name>
  1. When to use which command: If you are working with a version of Git that supports the git switch command (Git version 2.23 and above), it's recommended to use git switch for changing branches and git checkout for discarding changes in your working directory.

  2. Updating your Git version: If your version of Git doesn't support the git switch command, you can update it using the appropriate command for your operating system. For example, on Ubuntu you can use sudo apt-get upgrade git.

  • If you get an error like git: 'switch' is not a git command, it means your Git version is outdated and doesn't support the git switch command. In this case, you should update your Git version or continue using git checkout to switch branches[^^].

  • Be careful when using git checkout to discard changes in your working directory. Make sure to commit any changes you want to keep before running this command.

  • What is the difference between git switch and git checkout? git switch is a command introduced in Git version 2.23 to simplify the process of switching between branches. It separates the concerns of git checkout into two distinct commands: git switch for changing branches and git restore for discarding changes in the working directory.

  • I received an error 'git: 'switch' is not a git command'. What does it mean? This error means that your Git version does not support the git switch command. You can resolve this by updating Git to a newer version or using git checkout to switch branches[^^].

Understanding the difference between git switch and git checkout can help you avoid confusion and errors in your Git operations. Remember to use git switch for changing branches and git checkout for discarding changes in your working directory.

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