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Exclude files from git revision without adding to .gitignore

Gourav Goyal

Gourav Goyal

Sep 8, 2023

Have you ever wanted to create some file(s) in your repo but do not want it to commit or show in the git changes?

Your first thought would be to mention that file in .gitignore and commit it, but what if I told you there's a way without even adding it to your repo's .gitignore:

Per repository basis

Approach 1: Using .git/info/exclude file

This approach allows you to ignore individual files at the root of the repository or any specific files and directories without modifying the .gitignore file. Changes made in the .git/info/exclude file are local to your repository and won't affect other collaborators.

For example, if you want to ignore a file named mynotes.md:

  • Open the .git/info/exclude file in your repository:

    nano .git/info/exclude
  • Add the patterns of the files and directories you want to ignore. In this case, to ignore mynotes.md, you would add:

  • Save and close the file. In Nano, you can save by pressing Ctrl+O and then Enter. Close the editor with Ctrl+X.

  • Verify the ignored files by running git status. The mynotes.md file should no longer appear in the list of untracked files.

Approach 2: Using a .gitignore file inside a directory

This approach is effective for ignoring entire directories and their contents without modifying the main .gitignore file in the root of the repository. It is useful for keeping ignore rules specific to a directory, especially when you don't want these rules to be tracked or shared.

Let's suppose you want to have a folder drafts and ignore it and everything in it from git:

  • Create a folder drafts in your repo.
  • Add some files to it.
  • Those files will currently show as untracked files when running git status.
  • Now, create a .gitignore file inside drafts and write in it. This means all files inside drafts will be ignored.
    • You can create as many files or folders inside drafts and they won't show up in git changes.

    • Next time, you can use this one-liner command to create a drafts folder and put a .gitignore file:

      mkdir drafts && echo '*' > ./drafts/.gitignore

For all repositories

  • We'll be using a global .gitignore for it that takes higher precedence over a repo's .gitignore file.
  • let's suppose you want to hide .DS_Store, .env.production files from all current and future repo's:
    1. changes directory to /Users/{User}

      • cd ~
    2. create an empty file with .gitignore

      • Mac: touch .gitignore
      • Windows: type nul > .gitignore or echo.> .gitignore
    3. Tell git to use that file as global ignore

      • git config --global core.excludesfile ~/.gitignore
    4. open this .gitignore file:

      • Mac: open -a TextEdit ~/.gitignore
      • Windows: notepad ~/.gitignore
    5. and mention files (or patterns) to ignore:

That's all, folks!

Gourav Goyal

Gourav Goyal