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12 Git tips for Git's 12th birthday

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Git[1], the distributed revision-control system that's become the default tool for source code control in the open source world, turns 12 on April 7. One of the more frustrating things about using Git is how much you need to know to use it effectively. This can also be one of the more awesome things about using Git, because there's nothing quite like discovering a new tip or trick that can streamline or improve your workflow.

In honor of Git's 12th birthday, here are 12 tips and tricks to make your Git experience more useful and powerful, starting with some basics you might have overlooked and scaling up to some real power-user tricks!

1. Your ~/.gitconfig file

The first time you tried to use the git command to commit a change to a repository, you might have been greeted with something like this:

 

*** Please tell me who you are.
Run
  git config --global user.email "you [AT] example [DOT] com"
  git config --global user.name "Your Name"
to set your account's default identity.

What you might not have realized is that those commands are modifying the contents of ~/.gitconfig, which is where Git stores global configuration options. There are a vast array of things you can do via your ~/.gitconfig file, including defining aliases, turning particular command options on (or off!) on a permanent basis, and modifying aspects of how Git works (e.g., which diff algorithm git diff uses or what type of merge strategy is used by default). You can even conditionally include other config files based on the path to a repository! See man git-config for all the details.

2. Your repo's .gitconfig file

In the previous tip, you may have wondered what

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