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Git via the command line

Git is a command line tool, but there are many applications that allow you to locally execute Git commands via a graphical interface.

In this course, we'll use the command line to operate Git; reasoning:

  • Using git via command line is operating system independent; after setup, it's the same on Mac, Windows, Linux.
  • We can't use a graphical interface on our production servers, so we might as well get comfortable with command line git on local.

See if Git is installed

First, see if your computer already has Git installed by running the git command:

$ git

If you see output similar to the following screenshot, it means Git is installed and you're good to go; skip down to the section titled Initial Git Configuration.

Git is installed:

If, however, you see an error telling you the command git is not recognized or not found, you'll need to install Git, as described in the next section.

Windows Users: The course build of Cmder that I provided comes bundled with Git, so it should be installed already.

Download and install Git

If Git is not yet installed on your computer, visit the download page and choose your operating system. Download the appropriate program and run through installation.

Once installation is complete, close and re-open your command line program.

Now, try the git command again. Do you see a bunch of instructions and commands related to Git? Good, you're all set!

If you don't— are you sure you completely closed and re-opened your command line program?

If you're running an older operating system and the latest Git build doesn't work, you may have to try an older version of git. You can find older builds of Git here.


Find out what version of git you're running:

$ git --version

Find out where git is installed on Mac:

$ which git

Find out where git is installed on Windows/Cmder:

$ where.exe git

Initial Git configuration

Once you've confirmed Git is installed, you need to do some initial setup.

Run the following commands to set a user name and email key to be associated with any Git actions taken from your computer. Replace the name and email with your own details. The details you enter here does not have to match the credentials you use on Github, but it's okay if they do.

$ git config --global "Sam Seaborn"
$ git config --global

Next, run the following command to make Git output color coded (i.e. easier to read):

$ git config --global color.ui true

Next, run this command so that Git will ignore filemode (permission) changes:

$ git config --global core.filemode false

Next, tell Git to use nano as the default command line text editor. If you have another favorite CL text editor, you can use that instead.

$ git config --global core.editor nano

Finally, we want to configure how Git handles line endings in files. For this, we'll follow the's recommendations....

Mac/Linux users should run this command:

git config --global core.autocrlf input

And Windows users should run this command:

git config --global core.autocrlf true

Config tips

If you want to see what one of your git configs are set to, use git config followed by the particular configuration you want to read. For example, to double check your, run:

$ git config

You can also see all your configs with this command:

$ git config --list


Git should now be installed on your computer.

This is a one-time setup, so once it's working you shouldn't have to worry about these procedures again this semester.