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This page gives an overview of the basic usage of SmartGit. In addition to explaining the basics, we will focus on those features and peculiarities of the program that may be difficult to discover for first-time users. For more comprehensive documentation, please see the manual.

Create Repositories

If you have no Git or Mercurial repository available, but want to create a new local one (just for you), click Repository|Add or Create.


Now enter the directory of the new repository. This either can be an already existing one, but you also can enter a new one. In the latter case it will be create automatically.

Clicking OK will check whether the entered directory is already a repository (contains either a .git or .hg subdirectory). If it is not already an repository, SmartGit will ask you whether to initialize it. If both, Git and Mercurial executables, are configured in the preferences, you will see following choice (otherwise a simpler confirmation dialog):

Now you've created a new Git or Mercurial repository. You can add files (outside SmartGit) to the entered directory and later commit those in SmartGit.

You also can use these steps to add already existing repositories to SmartGit. Just enter their path as for the new repository. An alternative to open an existing repository is to drag it from your file manager into SmartGit's Repositories view.


To open a repository, either double-click it, select one or more, right-click and select Open. To open a repository in a new window, right-click it and select Open in New Window.

Each repository can have a name for better description. To change that, right-click the repository and select Rename.

If you have a large number of repositories, you may organize belonging repositories into groups. Just create a group using Repository|Add Group and drag and drop the repositories into this group.

User Interface

After opening a repository, SmartGit reads its directory structure. Expanding the repository node will show this directory structure. The selection in the Repositories view determines what is shown in the Files view. Use the small toolbar buttons above the Files view (or the View menu) to filter the shown files by their state, e.g. untracked or unmodified files. To filter by name, use the File Filter input field.


By default, files are listed recursively, so not only files from the selected directory, but also from subdirectories are shown. Directories marked as 'ignored' will not be scanned and hence the files in them will not be shown. New ("untracked"), modified or deleted ("missing") files will show up with special icons on the Files view. In the Directories view red arrows indicate where committable files are located inside the directory structure. If committable (e.g. untracked) files are hidden because of filtering, the file table will show a light pink background to remind you about the filtering, so you won't forget to commit them. If untracked files you don't want to commit filling up your repository, consider to ignore them (Local|Ignore).

To quickly select a file, simply start typing its name. As for the filtering, you may use glob pattern. Use the up and down cursor keys to select the next or preview matching file. This feature is also available in other parts of SmartGit.

You can use drag and drop to rearrange the layout of the views. There are two layouts, Main and Review, independent from each other configurable. To hide a view, click the small cross button in its title. To restore a closed or activate a view, use the corresponding menu item from the Window menu.

Review Local Changes


SmartGit offers different ways to review local changes:

  • The Changes view shows the changes of the selected file. Use the small arrow buttons in its toolbar to navigate from change to change over all shown committable (text) files.
  • To open an editable Compare window click the Changes toolbar button or double-click a file in the Commit dialog.
  • To commit only parts of modified files, use the Index Editor for that file. This allows to freely edit the file's Git Index content as well as the working tree content. The Git Index content can be committed with the next commit independent of the working tree content.


Window|Commit Message will show a view to prepare the commit message while reviewing local changes. When invoking the Commit command, this prepared message will be used to prefill the occurring commit dialog. The initial file selection on the commit dialog depends on your current selection on the main window. For example, if you select the root directory of your repository before opening the commit dialog, all changed files in the repository will be selected for committing. If you select a particular changed file on the Files view, only this file will be selected for the commit. To commit staged changes, either select a file with index changes or select the root directory before invoking the Commit button.

To ease entering of file names in the Commit dialog, use Ctrl+Space shortcut to get a list of all files selected for the commit.

To reuse the message of an existing commit, click the Select from Log button. As for all Logs (e.g. Merge, Cherry-Pick, too), right-click to copy the commit ID (or message).

Local Changes

For those cases where an error does make it through the review phase and ends up being committed, SmartGit provides several options in addition to the standard Git procedures to fix commits:

  • You can undo the last commit by selecting Local|Undo Last Commit. This will restore the committed changes in the Index.
  • You can "add" further changes to the previous commit by marking the Amend option on the commit dialog.
  • To change the previous commit's message (even if there are local changes), use Local|Edit Last Commit Message.

See this manual section for further information.


To show the commit history, select the repository root (for the entire history), file or directory and click the Log button from the main toolbar.

In the Branches view, select the checkboxes before the branches, tags or stashes you are interested in. Their commit history structure then will be displayed in the Commits view. When selecting a checkbox before a category, e.g. Local Branches, all items will be shown, otherwise only the selected ones - even if you create new items. Double-click a local branch to switch. Double-click a remote branch to create a corresponding local branch. The Lost Heads will show all commit heads which are not accessible from a tag or branch.

Tracking and tracked branches will be shown as jigsaw pieces. If both are pointing at the same commit, the jigsaw pieces are shown connected.

The Files view shows all changed files of the selected commit. If two commits are selected, the difference between both commits will be shown. Select a file entry to see its detailed changes in the Changes view. By right-clicking a file you can save the file state to disk or compare it with a file on your disk defaulting to the matching one in the working tree.

Pulling and Pushing

SmartGit has various ways to pulling from or pushing to remote repositories. The most obvious are the Pull and Push toolbar buttons. Because pushing often might fail because of remote changes, Sync first pushes and then pulls, so it is a clever alternative to using Push followed by Pull. For more information about these operations, see this manual section.

If you don't want to push all local commits, use the context menu of the Pushable Commits view.

To push certains tags or branches, use the context menu of the Branches view.

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