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Rewording a pushed git commit message

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Rewording a pushed git commit message
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Sometimes we are in a rush and we push our commits to remote with messages that might contain typos, or we find later on that we could have simply made a better commit message.

If you find that you made a typo in a pushed commit message or wanted to amend the message in some way, you can do the following:

git rebase -i HEAD~n

which displays the git rebase -i HEAD~n last n commits of the current branch you are in. So if you are not actually in the branch which contains the commit message you want to change, you have to checkout into that branch first with the command git checkout branchname. In my recent case, for instance, it was the master branch, so the command would be git checkout master.

Be sure, however, to first commit all changes you have made in that branch before checking out into the other branch.

Once you have checked out into the branch in question, run

git rebase -i HEAD~n

and it will return something like the following:

pick e499d89 Delete CNAME
pick 0c39034 Better README
pick f7fde4a Change the commit message but push the same commit.
# Rebase 9fdb3bd..f7fde4a onto 9fdb3bd
# Commands:
# p, pick = use commit
# r, reword = use commit, but edit the commit message
# e, edit = use commit, but stop for amending
# s, squash = use commit, but meld into previous commit
# f, fixup = like "squash", but discard this commit's log message
# x, exec = run command (the rest of the line) using shell
# These lines can be re-ordered; they are executed from top to bottom.
# If you remove a line here THAT COMMIT WILL BE LOST.
# However, if you remove everything, the rebase will be aborted.
# Note that empty commits are commented out

First press the i key so that you go into insert mode.

Replace pick with reword before each commit message you want to change. Something like this:

pick e499d89 Delete CNAME
reword 0c39034 Better README
reword f7fde4a Change the commit message but push the same commit.

Save and close the commit file. Then you will be taken to a screen that looks something like this:

reword 06ea4e4 dd new dist build

TMSG" 18L, 591C
Press ENTER or type command to continue

When you press enter, the Terminal window will look something like this:

reword 06ea4e4 dd new dist build

dd new dist build

# Please enter the commit message for your changes. Lines starting
# with '#' will be ignored, and an empty message aborts the commit.
# Date:      Thu May 7 11:02:21 2020 -0400
# interactive rebase in progress; onto bac4a55
# Last command done (1 command done):
#    reword 06ea4e4 dd new dist build
# Next commands to do (4 remaining commands):
#    pick 0545c78 Add load event
#    pick fe1dada Add new dist build
# You are currently editing a commit while rebasing branch 'master' on 'bac4a55'.
# Changes to be committed:
#       modified:   dist/scripts/js/main.js

Press the i key again to go into insert mode, make the change you want to the message, and then press the esc key again followed by :x and then finally press the return key to be taken back to the Terminal window.

Finally, run the command

git push --force

to force-push the amended commits.

And if you don't quite remember the first command to redo these steps to reword another pushed commit message you want to change, you can run the


command in Terminal, and it will show all the commands you ran in that instance of the Terminal window.

However, this way is not optimal if you are working with a team. It means that they have to update the changes in the Git history as a result of git rebase . This approach changes the commits included within the n range as well.

it is far better to do the following:

git log --oneline --graph

This returns something like this in Terminal :

bc47b1a (HEAD -> master, origin/master) Add new dist build
4ead7af Add inputsArray variable
fe11843 Add new dist build
c68f507 Add else ifs for validationMessage
e0ce9f7 Add new dist build
27574b1 change back to e.keyCode or e.which
d6480e1 Add new dist build
afea001 Replace e.keyCode e.which with e.key
612e5e5 Add new dist build
aad8dfa Spread inputs
12b86f1 Add new dist build
426d02a Add inputs forEach method event listeners
2b12b23 Remove reset button
28c32ae Add new dist build
3cdd794 Add background to :invalid pseudo class
101b53b Update npm
4012090 Add new dist build
0f79414 Change 8 to 7 in username message
31cd171 Add new main.js dist build
165f03e Conditionally change color of heading1 with js
d7dc13d Add new dist build
5c6000a Change quotes to ticks
56bf7c7 Add form attribute to submit button
579fccb Add new index.html dist build

Next, choose the commit SHAH you want to change the message of and run the following command in Terminal :

git rebase -i 27574b1

for example. The difference between this approach and the previous one is that you are only changing the history of that one commit which resultsin a new commit SHAH . At least you are not changing a whole bunch of others as well.

After you have made your changes and committed them (same way as before), you can check and make sure everything went as expected, targeting only that one commit by re-reunning

git log --oneline --graph

You should see that only the commit in question's commit SHAH was changed.

The best when dealing with teams is to try and get it right the first time! If you work alone, or people enter the picture after these changes have been made, that's another story altogether.