Local Operations on the Working Tree

Stage, Unstage, and the Index Editor

Git’s Index is basically a selection of changes from the working tree to be included in the next commit. SmartGit provides following facilities to modify this selection:

  • Stage and Unstage commands allow you to add and remove whole files to and from the Index, respectively.
  • Changes view allows you to add or remove individual `hunks’ (i.e. parts of the file) to and from the Index.
  • Index Editor allows you to directly edit the contents of the Index for a certain file, thereby adding or removing arbitrary content to and from the Index.

If you invoke Stage on an untracked file, e.g. via Local|Stage, that file will be scheduled for addition to the repository. On a tracked file, the effect of Stage is to schedule for the next commit any changes made to the file, including its removal.

Conversely, the Unstage command (Local|Stage) will discard the selected file’s changes in the Index, meaning that the Index changes will be lost, unless they are identical to the current changes in the working tree.

Similarly, staging and unstaging hunks from the Changes view will schedule or un-schedule parts of the file’s changes for the next commit.

If you select a file and invoke the Index Editor, e.g. via Local|Index Editor, the Index Editor window will come up. It is basically a three-way diff view where the three editors represent the file’s state in the repository, the Index and the working tree, respectively. You can edit the file contents in the Index and the working tree, and move changes between these two editors by clicking on the arrow and `x’ buttons in-between.

Lastly, to commit staged changes, select the working tree root in the Repositories view and invoke the Commit command.


Invoke Local|Ignore on a selection of untracked files to mark them as to be ignored. The Ignore command is useful for preventing certain local files that should not be added to the repository from showing up as `untracked’. This reduces visual clutter and also makes sure you won’t accidentally add them to the repository. If the Files view option Show Ignored Files is selected, ignored files will be shown.


Show Ignored Files will only display ignored files in versioned directories. Ignored files or sub-directories in ignored directories won’t show up, as SmartGit will not even scan into these directories for performance reasons.

When you mark a file in SmartGit as `ignored’, an entry will be added to the .gitignore file in the same directory. Git supports various options to ignore files, e.g. patterns that apply to files in subdirectories. With the SmartGit Ignore command you can only ignore files in the same directory. To use the more advanced Git ignore options, you may edit the .gitignore file(s) by hand.


To understand by which configuration an ignored file is becoming ignored, use Local|Edit Ignore File.

Assume Unchanged

Invoke Local|Toggle ‘Assume Unchanged’ on a selection of modified files to ‘ignore’ their local modifications. Such files won’t be detected as modified afterwards and hence won’t be included for the next commit.

To turn a file back into Modified state, use Toggle ‘Assume Unchanged’ on an Assume-Unchanged file again. If the Files view option Show Assume-Unchanged Files is selected, Assume-Unchanged files will be shown.


Invoke Local|Toggle ‘Skip Worktree’ on a selection of files to skip them from the Index. This is similar to Assume Unchanged , but in general more persistent in case of commands like Reset.

To get a file back into the Index, use Toggle ‘Skip Worktree’ on a Skipped file again. If the Files view option Show Skipped Files is selected, Skipped files will be shown.


The Commit command is used for saving local changes in the local repository. You can invoke it via Local|Commit.

If the working tree is in merging or rebasing state (see Merge and Rebase), you can only commit the whole working tree. Otherwise, you can select the files to commit. Previously tracked, but now missing files will be removed from the repository, and untracked new files will be added. This behavior can be changed in the Preferences, section Commands.

If you have staged changes in the Index, you can commit them by selecting at least one file with Index changes or by selecting the working tree root before invoking the Commit command.

While entering the commit message, you can use <Ctrl>+<Space>-keystroke to auto-complete file names or file paths. Use Select from Log to pick a commit message or SHA ID from the Log. By default, SmartGit will ‘guide’ you to write commit messages in some standard format, which will not exceed certain line lengths. You can disable this line length guide in the preferences.

If Amend last commit instead of creating a new one is selected, you can update the commit message and files of the previous commit, e.g. to add a forgotten file. By default, this option is only available for not yet pushed commits. You can enable this option for already pushed commits in the Preferences, section Commands.

If you commit while the working tree is in merging state, you will have the option to create either a merge commit or a normal commit. See Merge for details.


If the commit fails because Git complains “unable to auto-detect email address”, you can set your name and email address in the Repository Settings .

Altering Local Commits

SmartGit provides several ways to make alterations to local commits:

  • Undo Last Commit Invoke Local|Undo Last Commit to undo the last commit. The contents of the last commit will be moved to the Index, so no changes will be lost.
  • Edit Commit Message Invoke Local|Edit Commit Message to edit the commit message of the last commit. In the Journal view on the working tree window or the Graph view of the log window, you can edit the commit message of any of the local commits by selecting the commit and invoking Edit Commit Message from the commit’s context menu.
  • Squash Commits To combine a range of local commits into a single commit, select the commit range in the Journal view off the working tree window or the Graph view of the log window, and invoke Squash Commits from the context menu of the commit range.
  • Reorder Commits In the Journal view of the working tree window or the Graph view of the log window you can drag&drop a commit to some other location in the list to effectively change its position.


Do not undo an already pushed commit unless you know what you’re doing! If you do this, you need to force-push your local changes, which might discard other users’ commits in the remote repository.


Use Local|Discard to revert the contents of the selected files either back to their Index state, or back to their repository state (HEAD). If the working tree is in a merging or rebasing state, use this command on the root of the working tree to get out of the merging or rebasing state.


Use Local|Remove to remove files from the local repository and optionally to delete them in the working tree.

If the local file in the working tree is already missing, staging will have the same effect, but the Remove command also allows you to remove files from the repository while keeping them locally.

Moving/Renaming Files

In general, Git’s move/rename tracking happens always on-the-fly, e.g. when logging or blaming a file. Hence, there is no need for an explicit move operation: just move your files with your favorite tools (IDE, file explorer, from command line).

Still, Git offers a git move command for convenience which performs a normal file system move and then stages the removed and the newly added file to the Index. For a GUI client like SmartGit, providing such an operation is not necessary. Still, because users are frequently confused about the missing move operation, SmartGit provides Local|Move or Rename.


Use Local|Delete to delete local files (or directories) from the working tree. You either may delete the files directly or move them to the trash.


Stashes are a convenient way to put the current working tree changes or just some selected files aside and re-apply them later.

Use Local|Stash All to stash away all local modifications of your working tree. To stash away only the selected files, use Local|Stash Selection. The resulting stash will show up in the Branches view.


The option Include untracked files (Preferences, page Commands) is convenient to include untracked files for the stash as well. Depending on the operating system it may take significantly longer to execute the operation.

Right-click the stash and select Apply Stash to re-apply the contained changes to your working tree again. To get rid of obsolete stashes, use Drop Stash, however be aware that this will irretrievably get rid of the changes which are stored in the stash. Use Rename Stash to change the displayed stash message.

Run Garbage Collector

The Run Garbage Collector command runs some housekeeping tasks. When rebasing commits of a side-branch to newer commits of the main-branch, the rebased commits get obsolete. Same applied for the previous commit when commit-amending. You can make those commits visible in SmartGit’s Log by selecting the Recyclable Commits option in the Branches view.