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The Index file (.git/index) contains meta-information related to the working tree and is constrained by Git to have exactly one entry per file (and stage level). While Git handles file names as raw byte-sequences, SmartGit interprets them as (Unicode-)Strings to display them more nicely. Certain parts of a byte sequence may not represent a valid encoding, hence the relevant parts of the byte sequence will be replaced by the 'Unicode replacement character ' (�, U+FFFD). If the Index contains two byte sequences which differ only in 'unconvertible' parts, the resulting Strings may be identical. Such Index entries are confusing (not only SmartGit) and need to be fixed.


This kind of problem might occur after updating to msysgit 1.7.10 and not properly converting non-unicode file names.


If an encoding problem in the Index is encountered, SmartGit will show an error message which contains information about the problematic file. The resolution is performed using Git from the command line:

  • cd to your repository.
  • Invoke git status to be sure you have a clean working tree and Index. If not clean, either commit or stash away your local modifications.
  • For msysgit, on Windows: invoke bash.exe to enter Git's shell.
  • Invoke git ls-files | grep <readable-part-of-the-file-name>.
  • Inspect the output of the command and identify the offending entries: usually they will be almost identical, but only differ at certain positions where the octal encoding (\xyz) slightly varies. In the next step we will remove these offending entries from the repository (and re-add them again, if necessary). Hence, for every offending entry <path-to-file>:
  • Make a backup of <path-to-file> and
  • Invoke git rm --cached "`printf "<path-to-file>"`" (Note: all the quotes are necessary!).


On Windows, you may also work without bash.exe: just open a command line (DOS box) and invoke git rm --cached <path-to-file-pattern> with <path-to-file-pattern> being an unambiguous pattern of the file's path where the non-ASCII characters are replaced by ?. E.g.: x?y.txt.

  • After all entries have been removed, invoke git commit -m "clean up bad encoding of file names".
  • If necessary, re-add the entries (this time with correct encoding) with git add . and finally commit with git commit --amend -m "clean up bad encoding of file names".
  • Now SmartGit should be able to open the repository. Don't forget to push your changes!
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