Skip to content


Switch branches/tags

Git pull request tools

Everyone abstractly likes pull requests, but they can be a lot of keystrokes: making new branches, pushing them, and especially keeping track of what can be deleted. This is an attempt to reduce the number of keystrokes to a bare minimum.:

  • git pr branch BRANCH_NAME - make a new branch based on inferred upstream HEAD.
  • git pr push -r - push current branch to inferred origin, automatically make Github pull request.


  • Create new PR branch: git pr branch $name
  • Push PR branch: git pr push $name
  • Automatically detect personal and upstream remotes names - when you need to start PRs, just add a remote if you need: best option based on names local, upstream, origin (see below).
  • Anonymous PR branches (no local branch, only operating detached)
  • Fetch existing PR branches by number
  • Automatic diffs against upstream HEAD and PR branch: git pr diff
  • Delete local and remote branches at same time: git pr rm
  • Support for Gitlab and Github
  • Support for automatically making PRs/MRs (Github and gitlab>11.10).
  • Single shell script


In this repository, you find a shell script git-pr which, when placed anywhere on your $PATH and made executable (chmod a+rx git-pr), provides the following commands. There are no dependencies except POSIX shell (we hope - it's developed in dash).

To automatically open Github pull requests, you must install the gh command line tool. Gitlab pull requests require git>=2.10 and Gitlab>=11.10.

PR workflows

Here is our current short PR workflow (1):

  1. git pr branch $brname: create a new branch based on inferred upstream/HEAD. (note: fetch first if you want to be sure to be up to date)

  2. Do work, commit, etc.

  3. git pr push [-r]: Infer upstream remote automatically and push to branch matching local branch name. The -r option automatically opens a MR/PR (Gitlab/Github).

  4. Once you are done, git pr rm $brname to remove both local and remote branches (again inferring upstream remote).

There is actually an even shorter way (2):

  1. git pr branch: create a detached head, don't even name it locally.

  2. Do work, commit, etc. If you change your mind, no need to remove anything.

  3. git pr push [-r] $brname: push to inferred upstream. Note you need to give a name since we don't have a local branch name. The [-r] option again creates a pull request.

  4. You don't need to remove anything - remove branch remotely (via Github web) or delete your fork if this was really a one-time thing.

Common assumptions (repository setup)

  • The upstream remote is upstream, origin, or the first remote in the git remote output, whichever is found first. The idea is that if you add a remote named upstream, it will use that by default (if origin isn't it already the upstream).

  • You push to the local, origin, upstream, or first remote in the git remote output, whatever comes first. The idea is that if you cloned the upstream, if you add a remote called local, it will push to that by default.

Taken together, no matter if you originally clone the upstream or personal fork, you can at most add one more remote and get started (without having to rename any remotes).


For each command, you can run -h to get help (with no arguments). Only a brief description is shown here.

  • git pr branch: create a new PR based on the current (inferred_upstream)/HEAD. See -h for some considerations. Also at the top of the script is a configuration option to force a fetch before to make sure you are up to date. With one argument, create a branch of this name, otherwise create a detached head.

  • git pr push [-d] [-o] [[remote] branchname]: Push a PR. With no arguments, send to inferred origin automatically with a name the same as the current branch. With one argument, send to a branch of that name. With two arguments, the first is the remote name to use, and the second is the branch name to push to.

    • -f: Force push
    • -o: Create a pull request at the same time (Github/Gitlab). Gitlab merge requests work with git>=2.10 and Gitlab>=11.10.

    When opening a pull request, these options are available:

    • -n: skip the "edit pull request message" step and instead use the message from the (first) commit. (Github)
    • -d: Will open as a draft pull request. (Github)
    • -b {branch_name}: Target the named branch as the base branch to merge into (Github/Gitlab)

    Gitlab merge requests are only opened on invocations that actually push something, since this uses git push options.

  • git pr open: Push and open a pull request. This is completely equivalent to git pr push -o, see above for documentation.

  • git pr diff: Diff between current working dir and merge-base of inferred_upstream.

  • git pr rm $branch_name ...: Remove named branches, both locally and on inferred_origin.

  • git pr merged: show local and remote branches which can be removed. A small wrapper around git branch --merged that always checks relative to $inferred_upstream/HEAD. (I welcome UI suggestions for this and the two following commands, how to properly do things automatically.)

  • git pr prune: Remove remote tracking references already deleted upstream, and {local,remote} branches which are now merged to $inferred_upstream/HEAD.

  • git pr fetch $pr_number: Fetch the given upstream PR to a new local remote branch inferred_upstream/pr/$pr_number. (all fetch commands support and at least)

  • git pr fetchall: Fetch all remote upstream PRs to local repository. Warning: this includes all PRs, open and closed.

  • git pr unfetchall: Remove all $inferred_upstream/pr/[0-9]+$ branches (remove remote tracking branch is opposite of fetch). Warning: all.

  • git pr unfetchmerged: Remove all PR branches (see above) branches which are merged (according to --git branch --merged $inferred_origin/HEAD). Since you can't fetch just unmerged PRs, normally you would do fetchall followed by unfetchmerged.

  • git pr checkout $pr_number: Locally check out a PR by number: simply a git pr fetch $pr_number followed by git checkout pr/$pr_number.

  • git pr main (also aliased to master) will checkout the inferred main base branch (your local branch, not the remote tracking branch). If it can't infer it from the remote's upstream, tries the order main, master, gh-pages and checks out the first that exists.

  • git pr wrong-branch $brname: You just committed to the wrong branch. This will 1) make a new feature branch at your current commit 2) reset your current branch (presumed to be the default branch) to upstream/HEAD 3) check out the new branch 4) not affect uncommitted changes. But user beware of special cases!

  • git pr info prints the autodetected remotes and base branches.

  • git pr set-head checks the remote and sets the remote default branch.


  • branch name prefix: You may want to always prefix your branches with your name, e.g. rkdarst/auto-prefix. You can set the a git variable using git config --global git-pr.branchprefix PREFIX/, and any branch you try to create will have this prefixed to it. Note: include a trailing / or whatever character with your config option. This is only applied if your $inferred_upstream is the same as your $inferred_origin (in other words, if you have a separate personal repository, this won't be added).

Possible problems

We use the remote HEAD to infer what the upstream branch is. There are some problems with this:

  • it is only set when first cloned, if default branch changes it won't be updated later. However, you can manually set this with git remote set-head ${inferred_upstream} $branch_name

  • If multiple branches had the same HEAD as the default branch, the remote default branch can't be inferred automatically.

  • Setting the option NEW_ALWAYS_FETCH=1 in the file solves this, at the cost of network access for git pr branch.


Please send feedback. By its very nature, this makes some choices about how workflows work. If these can be improved to suit other workflows, or you have ideas, please send pull requests.

Other resources


All content is released under the MIT license. In addition, code and aliases are released into the public domain (CC0). See LICENSE.

Note: the repository was called git-pr-tools until 2019-04-08.

git-pr is hosted under the NordicHPC umbrella. Current primary developer is Richard Darst, Aalto University (Finland) Science-IT.


Shortcuts to make git pull requests take less keystrokes







No releases published


No packages published