Git: Diff Between {Working Dir, Staged Area, Last Commit}

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

This page is a git tutorial for finding differences in last commit or various areas of git.

There are 3 major concepts of places:

All are local on your disk.

One important concept is Commit ID. Every commit has a ID. The commit id is a 40 digits hexadecimal ➢ for example: 3b6ea398cc2d69212b04c29f06b8d15c0af34e34.

How to get commit ID?

Type git log -3 to show the last 3 commit's commit IDs.

git diff Between {Working Dir, Staged Area, Last Commit}

How to diff between {working dir, staging area}?

# diff working dir, staging area
git diff --color
# diff working dir, staging area, 1 file
git diff --color filename

How to diff between {staging area, last commit}?

# diff staging area, last commit. (--staged is same as --cached)
git diff --color --staged commitID

How to diff between {last commit, working dir}?

First, use git log to get a commit ID.

# diff last commit, working dir
git diff --color commitID

Git Diff Between 2 Commits

How to diff between 2 commits in the same branch?

First do

git log file_name

to find the commits IDs. Then, do

git diff commit_ID_1 commit_ID_2 file_name

git diff 3d5cf 5aa95 myfilename

You only need to type the first few characters of commit id.

git status: summary of {last commit, staging area, working dir}

How to find what files are changed?

git status . will report changes between {staging area, last commit} and {staging area, working dir}.

# show changes between {staging area, last commit} and {staging area, working dir}
git status .

Here's a sample output of git status .:

◆ git status .
# On branch master
# Changes to be committed:
#   (use "git reset HEAD <file>..." to unstage)
#       modified:   ../../ergoemacs_org/emacs/blog.html
#       modified:   ../../ergoemacs_org/emacs/blog.xml
# Changes not staged for commit:
#   (use "git add <file>..." to update what will be committed)
#   (use "git checkout -- <file>..." to discard changes in working directory)
#       modified:   ../../ergoemacs_org/emacs/elisp_eval_lisp_code.html
#       modified:   ../../ergoemacs_org/emacs/elisp_function_eval_and_doc_lookup.html
# Untracked files:
#   (use "git add <file>..." to include in what will be committed)
#       ../../ergoemacs_org/emacs/i/emacs_describe-function.png
#       ../js/earth_globe_JavaScript.js

The first section “# Changes to be committed:” is the diff between {staging area, last commit}.

The second section “# Changes not staged for commit:” is the diff between {working dir, staging area}.

The 3rd section “# Untracked files:” is also the diff between {working dir, staging area}.

Thanks to Nick Alcock for review.