How do I rename a local Git branch?

Created 06.07.2011 03:20
Viewed 3.36M times
9299 votes

I don't want to rename a remote branch, as described in Rename master branch for both local and remote Git repositories.

How can I rename a local branch which hasn't been pushed to a remote branch?

In case you need to rename remote branch as well:
How do I rename both a Git local and remote branch name

Answers 34

If you want to rename a branch while pointed to any branch, do:

git branch -m <oldname> <newname>

If you want to rename the current branch, you can do:

git branch -m <newname>

A way to remember this is -m is for "move" (or mv), which is how you rename files. Adding an alias could also help. To do so, run the following:

git config --global alias.rename 'branch -m'

If you are on Windows or another case-insensitive filesystem, and there are only capitalization changes in the name, you need to use -M, otherwise, git will throw branch already exists error:

git branch -M <newname>
06.07.2011 03:21
What I really wanted to know was whether this will necessarily effect the remote branch when/if you push by PandaWood, 23.01.2012 00:15
@PandaWood: it will add the new branch when you push, but won't delete the old branch. If you use git push -f --mirror, then it will rename the branch on the remote, but you should only use this method if the remote is simply to be a copy of your current repository. See also this question: by siride, 23.01.2012 06:02
@PandaWood, it depends on how push.default is configured. By default (matching) it will push to a remote whose name matches. You would have to do git push origin <newname>:<oldname> or you will create a new remote branch. However, if push.default is set to upstream, then you can push origin head and things will go to the oldname on the remote. by Erin Stanfill, 31.10.2013 23:46
@NightOwl888: the -m probably is short for "move", following the Unix convention of using the mv to rename files. The reason for this is that moving and renaming, in a directory-based inode file system, are entirely equivalent. by siride, 03.09.2014 02:27
May not work on Windows. Git on Windows complains the branch already exists. by Sam Rueby, 30.03.2015 12:23
@Sam.Rueby: I am not able to reproduce that error. It works fine for me. I'm using msysgit (git version 1.9.5.msysgit.0) on Windows 7, 64-bit. by siride, 30.03.2015 14:12
The long name of the -m option is --move, e.g., git branch --move master renames the current branch to be called "master". by robenkleene, 22.09.2015 17:56
interesting, it seems that the rename is temporarily case insensitive, even on OSX. Starting from FB12.show_hide_cols, -m fb12.show_hide_cols got me an existing branch error. But -m fb12.show_hide_col, then -m fb12.show_hide_cols got me where I wanted. afterwards, git branch only shows the one renamed branch, just like I wanted. by JL Peyret, 22.03.2016 01:01
After doing this, you should also run git push origin :<old_name> <new_name> to update your remote branch names. by David Meza, 01.04.2016 14:52
@Sam.Rueby You will need to use -M to rename if you are only changing capitalization, as git will tell you that branch already exists. by Chiel ten Brinke, 01.07.2016 10:09
for those who stumble upon this thread and comment, be wary when considering using git push -f --mirror. this will also push all local branches to remote as well, including any unpruned branched. i did this and pushed 30+ old branches to remote...whoops! by liltitus27, 01.12.2016 17:00
Also be very wary of git push -f --mirror because it will quite literally "mirror" your local repo. This may be fine if you are working alone but if you are contributing to a code base with a team git push -f --mirror will delete any branches that aren't on your local. by Bueno, 05.09.2018 20:47
@HaFizUmer This will only rename your local branches. If you want to propagate those changes to another repository, such as a GitHub repository, you will need to run git push origin :old_branchname new_branchname (see Harry_pb's answer below). by siride, 26.03.2019 21:55
Nitpicking: Windows' file system (NTFS) is in fact case-sensitive. It is provisioned for systems that choose to expose the file system in a case-insensitive fashion. Windows does that. by IInspectable, 16.12.2019 11:57
is it possible that the old branch is not deleted in windows if i use -m, and same branch having two names and if i commit in new branch it goes ahead from older one… by Kiwi Rupela, 22.04.2020 16:35
Will that also rename the branch on the remote? If not, how can one do that? by Michael, 29.04.2020 01:20
You will not lose changes (unstaged/modified files) when doing this locally. Say for example you are working on a new branch... then before you commit your changes, you realize what you actually did doesn't match the name of the branch. You can safely rename it before committing the changes. This way when it's merged, the names make sense later on. -- Just wanted to add that since it wasn't mentioned in case anyone else wonders what will happen :) by Wade, 14.04.2021 18:47
Show remaining 12 comments
git branch -m old_branch_name new_branch_name

The above command will change your branch name, but you have to be very careful using the renamed branch, because it will still refer to the old upstream branch associated with it, if any.

If you want to push some changes into master after your local branch is renamed into new_branch_name (example name):

git push origin new_branch_name:master (now changes will go to master branch but your local branch name is new_branch_name)

For more details, see "How to rename your local branch name in Git."

21.01.2013 09:49

To rename your current branch:

git branch -m <newname>
20.06.2013 15:05
You will need to use -M to rename if you are only changing capitalization, as git will tell you that branch already exists. by cjspurgeon, 08.05.2015 21:04
and afterwards git push origin HEAD:<oldname> by techkuz, 28.01.2021 17:57

Here are the steps to rename the branch:

  1. Switch to the branch which needs to be renamed
  2. git branch -m <new_name>
  3. git push origin :<old_name>
  4. git push origin <new_name>:refs/heads/<new_name>

EDIT (12/01/2017): Make sure you run command git status and check that the newly created branch is pointing to its own ref and not the older one. If you find the reference to the older branch, you need to unset the upstream using:

git branch --unset-upstream
15.04.2015 12:50
In which step would one unset the upstream? Before step 4? by Cyclonecode, 01.07.2018 07:06
This is the best answer here as it describes the full process to correctly complete a rename by Chris Halcrow, 21.04.2020 06:58
To explain the steps: 1 = switch to branch locally, 2 = 'move' i.e. 'rename' branch locally (-m), 3 = push 'nothing' to the old branch destination on the remote (i.e. delete the reference to the branch on the remote) - left side of a colon is 'source', right side is 'destination', 4 = push a reference (pointer) to the new branch, to the remote by Chris Halcrow, 18.06.2020 23:48
@Milind Anantwar, what does it mean to "check that the new branch is pointing to it's own ref"? And could you please explain how git branch --unset-upstream resolves the unsynchronised condition(s) to which you're referring? by Chris Halcrow, 18.06.2020 23:52
I also used this git push origin HEAD Its working fine by AnilS, 06.07.2020 13:35
I also used this git push origin HEAD Its working fine by AnilS, 06.07.2020 13:37
Adding --set-upstream on step 4 should do the trick too. by Ph3n0x, 07.10.2020 13:00
Show remaining 2 comments

Rename the branch will be useful once your branch is finished. Then new stuff is coming, and you want to develop in the same branch instead of deleting it and create the new one.

From my experience, to rename a local and remote branch in Git you should do the following steps.

Quoting from Multiple States - Rename a local and remote branch in git

1. Rename your local branch

If you are on the branch you want to rename:

git branch -m new-name

If you are on a different branch:

git branch -m old-name new-name

2. Delete the old-name remote branch and push the new-name local branch

git push origin :old-name new-name

3. Reset the upstream branch for the new-name local branch

git push origin -u new-name
14.10.2016 03:22
This one worked better for me. Here the 2 steps gave me the following errors: error: dst ref refs/heads/<old-name> receives from more than one src.; error: failed to push some refs to 'git@uri:foo/bar.git' by Anto, 23.02.2018 15:26
You got the problem when running the command git push origin :old-name new-name right? by trungk18, 23.02.2018 15:28
Yep exactly (sorry I meant "2nd step", not "2 steps" -- tired) by Anto, 23.02.2018 16:28

The answers so far have been correct, but here is some additional information:

One can safely rename a branch with '-m' (move), but one has to be careful with '-M', because it forces the rename, even if there is an existing branch with the same name already. Here is the excerpt from the 'git-branch' man page:

With a -m or -M option, <oldbranch> will be renamed to <newbranch>. If <oldbranch> had a corresponding reflog, it is renamed to match <newbranch>, and a reflog entry is created to remember the branch renaming. If <newbranch> exists, -M must be used to force the rename to happen.

24.09.2013 13:21
What happens to the overwritten branch? by Kevin Dice, 22.06.2015 20:06
It is overwritten by the new name/branch. For example if you have the following branches in git: master b1 <-- current branch b2 after you do 'git branch -M b2' you will only have: master b2 <-- current branch b1 will be gone and if you wish to recover it you should check it out by its hash. You can see it by typing 'git reflog'. Cheers. by Vanchev, 26.06.2015 16:48
The -M flag is also useful to force a rename if you are just correcting the case of the branch name, e.g. changing myBranch to MyBranch. (With -m, git returns fatal: A branch named 'MyBranch' already exists.) by Jon Schneider, 14.02.2018 20:10

1. Rename

If it is your current branch, just do

git branch -m new_name

If it is another branch you want to rename

git branch -m old_name new_name

2. Track a new remote branch

- If your branch was pushed, then after renaming you need to delete it from the remote Git repository and ask your new local to track a new remote branch:

git push origin :old_name
git push --set-upstream origin new_name
17.12.2015 13:45

I foolishly named a branch starting with a hyphen, and then checked out master. I didn't want to delete my branch, I had work in it.

Neither of these worked:

git checkout -dumb-name

git checkout -- -dumb-name

"s, 's and \s didn't help either. git branch -m doesn't work.

Here's how I finally fixed it. Go into your working copy's .git/refs/heads, find the filename "-dumb-name", get the hash of the branch. Then this will check it out, make a new branch with a sane name, and delete the old one.

git checkout {hash}
git checkout -b brilliant-name
git branch -d -- -dumb-name
09.11.2013 07:31
Couldn't you just have renamed the file in refs/heads? by android.weasel, 13.11.2013 18:07
Ditto. If you have to dig into the directory structure to do this magic, go all the way and do a 'mv -- -dumb-name brilliant-name' Do a 'git branch -av' and you'll see an directory structure of .git/refs. Or maybe 'grep -R ^ .git/refs' to see the hashes directly. by Dave X, 19.12.2013 17:15
You could probably have used reflog by Code Whisperer, 14.01.2015 20:27
Honestly, if that's the route you wanted to take, I'd avoid the (IMO confusing and potentially dangerous if you don't know what you're doing) jaunt through .git directory in the first place, and just do it with some normal commands with some "git log" parsing (using appropriate flags to show branches, and to figure out which shasum you want to checkout a new branch from), and then do it. Then, remove the wonky-named branch. I despise that git insists that you need to understand all of its inner workings to do some things, but greatly appreciate that you can do those things. by Jon V, 27.02.2016 14:37
It's harder to create a branch with a bad name in 2.10.1+. If you do somehow do it, you can use git branch -v to get the short hash version of your branches(add -r for remote). You can then use git rev-parse <shorthash> to get the full hash if you need it. by House of Dexter, 06.03.2017 17:19
You can also use git show-ref this will give you the long hash of everything in your local repo. and I mean everything...branches/stashes/tags...etc by House of Dexter, 07.03.2017 19:40
Show remaining 1 comments

Just three steps to replicate change in name on remote as well as on GitHub:

Step 1 git branch -m old_branchname new_branchname

Step 2 git push origin :old_branchname new_branchname

Step 3 git push --set-upstream origin new_branchname

22.03.2019 01:03
I had also to do one addtional thing: git push --set-upstream origin new_branchname which is mentioned in @Nomade answer by Ibrahim Mohamed, 17.08.2019 03:33
Step 3 not needed. Everything was up-to-date after Step 2. by Dev, 25.03.2020 01:22
@Dev not in all the cases Dev, I had to update recently since using bitbucket and codecommit, step 3 is necessary by Harry_pb, 25.03.2020 02:19

To rename a branch locally:

git branch -m [old-branch] [new-branch]

Now you'll have to propagate these changes on your remote server as well.

To push changes of the deleted old branch:

git push origin :[old-branch]

To push changes of creation of new branch:

git push origin [new-branch]
20.08.2015 06:39

Rename the branch using this command:

git branch -m [old_branch_name] [new_branch_name]

-m: It renames/moves the branch. If there is already a branch, you will get an error.

If there is already a branch and you want to rename with that branch, use:

 git rename -M [old_branch_name] [new_branch_name]

For more information about help, use this command in the terminal:

git branch --help


man git branch
11.04.2015 06:19

Advanced Git users can rename manually using:

Rename the old branch under .git/refs/heads to the new name

Rename the old branch under .git/logs/refs/heads to the new name

Update the .git/HEAD to point to yout new branch name
05.08.2015 09:04
  1. Rename your local branch.

If you are on the branch you want to rename:

git branch -m new-name

If you are on a different branch:

git branch -m old-name new-name
  1. Delete the old-name remote branch and push the new-name local branch.

git push origin :old-name new-name

  1. Reset the upstream branch for the new-name local branch. Switch to the branch and then:

git push origin -u new-name

Or for a fast way to do that, you can use these 3 steps:

# Rename branch locally

git branch -m old_branch new_branch  

# Delete the old remote branch

git push origin :old_branch  

# Push the new branch, set local branch to track the new remote

git push --set-upstream origin new_branch   


08.04.2018 05:49

Here are three steps: A command that you can call inside your terminal and change branch name.

git branch -m old_branch new_branch         # Rename branch locally
git push origin :old_branch                 # Delete the old branch
git push --set-upstream origin new_branch   # Push the new branch, set local branch to track the new remote

If you need more: step-by-step, How To Change Git Branch Name is a good article about that.

10.05.2016 18:04

Probably as mentioned by others, this will be a case mismatch in branch naming.

If you have such a situation, I can guess that you're on Windows which will also lead you to:

$ git branch -m CaseSensitive casesensitive
fatal: A branch named 'casesensitive' already exists.

Then you have to do an intermediate step:

$ git branch -m temporary
$ git branch -m casesensitive

Nothing more.

25.05.2015 11:52
Note that this situation might also arise on a Mac, which is also (exceptionally annoyingly) case insensitive in its file system. by Jon V, 27.02.2016 14:41
Alternatively, you can use -M instead of -m to do this kind of "casing fix" rename in a single step. by Jon Schneider, 14.02.2018 20:09

Trying to answer specifically to the question (at least the title).

You can also rename local branch, but keeps tracking the old name on the remote.

git branch -m old_branch new_branch
git push --set-upstream origin new_branch:old_branch

Now, when you run git push, the remote old_branch ref is updated with your local new_branch.

You have to know and remember this configuration. But it can be useful if you don't have the choice for the remote branch name, but you don't like it (oh, I mean, you've got a very good reason not to like it !) and prefer a clearer name for your local branch.

Playing with the fetch configuration, you can even rename the local remote-reference. i.e, having a refs/remote/origin/new_branch ref pointer to the branch, that is in fact the old_branch on origin. However, I highly discourage this, for the safety of your mind.

19.05.2016 10:39

Changing the branch locally is quite easy...

If you are on the branch you want to change the name for, simply do this:

git branch -m my_new_branch

Otherwise, if you are on master or any other branch other than the one you'd like to change the name, simply do:

git branch -m my_old_branch my_new_branch

Also, I create the image below to show this in action on a command line. In this case, you are on master branch, for example:

Change branch name locally

04.07.2017 14:01

To rename the current branch (except for detached HEAD state) you can also use this alias:

    mvh = !sh -c 'git branch -m `git rev-parse --abbrev-ref HEAD` $1'
02.09.2014 17:25

Another option is not to use the command line at all. Git GUI clients such as SourceTree take away much of the syntactical learning curve / pain that causes questions such as this one to be amongst the most viewed on Stack Overflow.

In SourceTree, right click on any local branch in the "Branches" pane on the left and select "Rename ...".

08.03.2015 16:13
I wouldn't call it pain. The git command is very easy to use, once you've seen this answer, you'll probably never come back again. The problem is more that, so it seems, the documentation of the git command-line isn't intuitive enough. by Nearoo, 08.03.2015 17:05
True but with SourceTree I hardly ever need to worry about checking documentation. Everything is generally intuitive - just right click and see what the options are. (BTW I'm not affiliated with them in any way - just like the tool!) by Steve Chambers, 08.03.2015 17:17

If you are willing to use SourceTree (which I strongly recommend), you can right click your branch and chose 'Rename'.

enter image description here

26.05.2017 11:14

A simple way to do it:

git branch -m old_branch new_branch         # Rename branch locally
git push origin :old_branch                 # Delete the old branch
git push --set-upstream origin new_branch   # Push the new branch, set local branch to track the new remote

For more, see this.

27.03.2018 16:00

Since you do not want to push the branch to a remote server, this example will be useful:

Let's say you have an existing branch called "my-hot-feature," and you want to rename it to "feature-15."

First, you want to change your local branch. This couldn't be easier:

git branch -m my-hot-feature feature-15

For more information, you can visit Locally and Remotely Renaming a Branch in Git.

27.10.2015 10:17

Git version 2.9.2

If you want to change the name of the local branch you are on:

git branch -m new_name

If you want to change the name of a different branch:

git branch -m old_name new_name

If you want to change the name of a different branch to a name that already exists:

git branch -M old_name new_name_that_already_exists

Note: The last command is destructive and will rename your branch, but you will lose the old branch with that name and those commits because branch names must be unique.

22.09.2016 00:03

If you want to change the name of the current branch, run:

git branch -m [old_branch] [new_branch]

If you want to delete the old remote branch, run:

git push origin :[old_branch]

If you want to delete the old remote branch and create a new remote branch, run:

git push origin :old_branch new_branch
31.01.2017 15:53

Actually you have three steps because the local branch has a duplicate on the server so we have one step for local on two steps on the server:

  1. Rename local: just use the following command to rename your current branch, even you checked it out:
    git branch -m <old-branch-name> <new-branch-name>
  2. Delete the server one: use the following command to delete the old name branch on the server:
    git push <remote-name[origin by default]> :<old-branch-name>
  3. Push the new one: now it's time to push the new branch named on the server:
    git push -u <new-branch-name>
05.08.2020 08:24
in my case 3rd command is taking care to rename remote branch, without executing above 2 nd command. Is it necessary to delete before renaming remote branch? by SP007, 17.09.2020 15:53
@SP007, The 2nd command is not essential, but I'm a little worry about clarity on git server. so I don't keep useless branches. by AmerllicA, 17.09.2020 18:52
when I execute 3rd command it renamed existing remote branch. by SP007, 17.09.2020 19:42
@SP007, I will test it, maybe the 2nd command is not needed. by AmerllicA, 17.09.2020 20:05

Git branch rename can be done by using:

  1. git branch -m oldBranch newBranch

  2. git branch -M oldBranch ExistingBranch

The difference between -m and -M:

-m: if you're trying to rename your branch with an existing branch name using -m. It will raise an error saying that the branch already exists. You need to give unique name.


-M: this will help you to force rename with a given name, even it is exists. So an existing branch will overwrite entirely with it...

Here is a Git terminal example,

mohideen@dev:~/project/myapp/sunithamakeup$ git branch
* test1
mohideen@dev:~/project/myapp/sunithamakeup$ git branch -m test1 test
fatal: A branch named 'test' already exists.
mohideen@dev:~/project/myapp/sunithamakeup$ git branch -M test1 test
mohideen@dev:~/project/myapp/sunithamakeup$ git branch
* test
01.09.2017 06:59

For Git GUI users it couldn't be much simpler. In Git GUI, choose the branch name from the drop down list in the "Rename Branch" dialog box created from the menu item Branch:Rename, type a New Name, and click "Rename". I have highlighted where to find the drop down list.

Rename a local Git branch

03.09.2018 15:58

Before we begin, make sure you’ve selected the branch you want to rename:

git checkout old-name

If you want to see all of your local branches, use the following command:

git branch --list

When you’re all clear, follow these steps:

  1. Using the Git rename branch command will require you to add an -m option to your command:

    git branch -m new-name
  2. You can also rename a local branch from another branch by using the following two commands:

    git checkout master
    git branch -m old-name new-name
  3. Lastly, this command will list all — both local and remote — branches to verify that it has been renamed:

    git branch -a

Although it isn’t possible to rename a remote branch directly, the process of renaming one involves these three easy steps:

  1. To start, you will need to rename a local branch by following the previous steps. 2.Then delete the old branch and push the new one. You can do this easily with the following commands:

     git push origin --delete old-name
     git push origin :old-name new-name
  2. Reset the upstream branch for your new local branch and you will be all set:

    git push origin -u new-name
28.09.2020 13:01

If you want to:

  • Rename the Git repository, run: git branch -m <oldname> <newname>
  • Delete the old branch by: git push origin: old-name new-name
  • Commit it using: git commit <newname>
    • and then push using: git push origin new_branch_name:master
  • If you want to check the status then use: git status
  • If you want to check out then use: git checkout
26.08.2017 14:18

All of the previous answers are talking about git branch -m. Of course, it's easy to operate, but for me, it may be a little hard to remember another Git command. So I tried to get the work done by the command I was familiar with. Yeah, you may guessed it.

I use git branch -b <new_branch_name>. And if you don't want to save the old branch now you can execute git branch -D <old_branch_name> to remove it.

I know it may be a little tedious, but it's easier to understand and remember. I hope it‘s helpful for you.

29.08.2017 02:16
If you're having trouble remembering commands, you can set up shell or git aliases for yourself. by sean, 17.12.2019 07:46

All you have to do are the three steps:

  1. Give the old branch under .git/refs/heads the new name
  2. Give the old branch under .git/logs/refs/heads the new name
  3. Update the .git/HEAD to lead to your new branch name
10.05.2020 17:21

In PhpStorm:

VCS → Git → Branches... → Local Branches → _your_branch_ → Rename

14.03.2018 20:46
git branch -m [old-branch] [new-branch]

-m means move all from [old-branch] to [new-branch] and remember you can use -M for other file systems.

27.08.2019 14:57
This seems like a repeat of the existing answers by Jordan Daniels, 14.11.2019 00:25

For Locally

at first change your current branch from the branch you want to update name for example I have 3 branch branch1 , branch2 , branch3

check current branch

git branch --show-current

output may : branch1

then you can update name of branch2 and branch3 not the current one

git branch -m old_branchname new_branchname

For remote

Just three steps to replicate change in name on remote as well as on GitHub:

git branch -m old_branchname new_branchname
git push origin :old_branchname new_branchname
git push --set-upstream origin new_branchname
27.07.2020 13:49