What is the difference between 'git pull' and 'git fetch'?

Created 15.11.2008 09:51
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What are the differences between git pull and git fetch?

I found this well written article about git fetch and git pull it's worth the reading: longair.net/blog/2009/04/16/git-fetch-and-merge by Marcos Oliveira, 16.09.2010 06:57
Our alternative approach has become git fetch; git reset --hard origin/master as part of our workflow. It blows away local changes, keeps you up to date with master BUT makes sure you don't just pull in new changes on top on current changes and make a mess. We've used it for a while and it basically feels a lot safer in practice. Just be sure to add/commit/stash any work-in-progress first ! by Michael Durrant, 04.05.2014 14:32
Make sure you know how to use git stash correctly. If you're asking about 'pull' and 'fetch' then maybe 'stash' will also need explaining... by Henry Heleine, 09.12.2014 20:09
Lots of folks coming from Mercurial keep using "git pull", thinking it's an equivalent for "hg pull". Which it's not. Git's equivalent of "hg pull" is "git fetch". by Serge Shultz, 29.06.2015 10:15
git fetch command fetching updated code with branch and also will get newly added branches in your local, git pull command fetch only updated code of current branch only by Kartik Patel, 27.07.2017 11:43
@MichaelDurrant FWIW, that is equivalent to git pull --ff-only, although I don't remember if it was available in 2014. by jpaugh, 21.05.2018 21:16
To note, git fetch has no correspondent in traditional source control systems (that I'm aware of). The main goal of using git fetch (to "see what happened in remote") is achieved e.g. in SVN with a merge --dry-run. It should be part of the basic workflow, that before you pull, you get an idea of what changes you are pulling, particularly those changes that would conflict with your local ones. by haelix, 06.09.2018 18:16
A very good way of understanding them is understanding the various refs git stores. That helps you to understand how the isolation mechanism between them works and why fetch is safe vs. pull which is aggressive. For more see here by Honey, 12.02.2019 19:30
freecodecamp.org/news/git-fetch-vs-pull/…. by Shiwangini, 11.07.2020 19:24
just think about it as a webpage, "download".& "refresh" by Ernie Sender, 20.11.2020 00:18
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Answers 38

In the simplest terms, git pull does a git fetch followed by a git merge.

You can do a git fetch at any time to update your remote-tracking branches under refs/remotes/<remote>/.

This operation never changes any of your own local branches under refs/heads, and is safe to do without changing your working copy. I have even heard of people running git fetch periodically in a cron job in the background (although I wouldn't recommend doing this).

A git pull is what you would do to bring a local branch up-to-date with its remote version, while also updating your other remote-tracking branches.

From the Git documentation for git pull:

In its default mode, git pull is shorthand for git fetch followed by git merge FETCH_HEAD.

15.11.2008 09:52
"A "git pull" is what you would do to bring your repository up to date" <- isn't the repository update already done by fetch? don't you mean it brings your local branches up-to-date with the remote branches? To the merge: It merges the remote branches with your local copies of those branches, or what exactly does it merge here? by Albert, 10.11.2009 12:13
@Albert: Yeah, it's weirdly worded. git pull will always merge into the current branch. So you select which branch you want to pull from, and it pulls it into the current branch. The from branch can be local or remote; it can even be a remote branch that's not a registered git remote (meaning you pass a URL on the git pull command line). by intuited, 06.06.2010 10:10
Is a "git push" also a "git fetch" (in the other direction) followed by a "git merge"? by Ellen Spertus, 16.03.2011 23:51
@espertus: No. Pushing never automatically does a merge. The user is expected to pull, resolving any merge conflicts locally, then push back to the remote. by Greg Hewgill, 17.03.2011 00:41
If I am at /home/alice/ and do git fetch /home/bob, what parameters should I pass to the subsequent git merge ? by ripper234, 27.05.2011 19:38
Why specifically don't you recommend something like a cron job that does a "git fetch" automatically for you? No bad side effects come to mind, and it'd be nice to have my remote branches updated without having to think about it. by Bryan Henry, 27.10.2011 02:05
@Sbrocket: I don't like surprises, especially not while working with my source control system. Changing branches from under me (even just remote branches) while working could be disorienting. by Greg Hewgill, 27.10.2011 18:29
Note to people learning Git: pull can't actually be emulated by a fetch plus a merge. I just fetched a change where only a remote branch pointer changes, and merge refuses to do anything. pull, on the other hand, fast-forwards my tracking branch. by Roman Starkov, 28.09.2012 16:23
Lets imagine that I have only a master branch. Which EXACT commands (with all the necessary options) should replace git pull command? by Paul, 25.01.2013 15:16
@espertus - FYI if you uses Git Extensions you can do auto-pull on before push if the push is rejected. by Laksitha Ranasingha, 31.01.2013 12:36
Alternatively, you can update your git repo with remote repo by doing git fetch followed by git rebase origin/master by abumusamq, 07.02.2013 12:16
@romkyns I don't quite follow what you mean there. Could you please explain what "I just fetched a change where only a remote branch pointer changes, and merge refuses to do anything." means? by viki.omega9, 26.05.2013 17:15
@dev-inside Or just do git pull --rebase by Michael Mior, 26.05.2013 21:06
git pull is shorthand for git fetch followed by git merge FETCH_HEAD. by Nikita, 15.04.2014 18:51
This operation never changes any of your own local branches under refs/heads - what does it do then? I still don't understand well. by アレックス, 13.06.2014 01:39
@AlexanderSupertramp: git fetch updates the remote tracking branches. These are the branches listed starting with remotes/ in git branch -a, and are a copy of the branches on the remote repository. by Greg Hewgill, 13.06.2014 01:41
@GregHewgill, how does it updates them? It seems like you're implying it pushes something to the remote branches. by アレックス, 13.06.2014 04:38
@AlexanderSupertramp: I'm not saying that at all. Your normal branches are under refs/heads. Remote tracking branches are under refs/remotes. The git fetch command updates your remote tracking branches under refs/remotes and does not change anything under refs/heads. by Greg Hewgill, 13.06.2014 07:16
Locally I keep only local branches and edit only them, correct? What do you mean by "updates remotes" branches? by アレックス, 13.06.2014 08:00
@AlexanderSupertramp: Please ask a new question if you are having trouble understanding Git terminology. The comments section is not the right place to have this discussion. Thanks. by Greg Hewgill, 13.06.2014 08:02
The key distinction here is refs/remote and refs/heads. heads refers to your local working branch, whereas remote refers to the branch pointing to the remote, with information since your last git fetch origin. by JohnMerlino, 28.06.2014 16:22
@romkyns "pull can't actually be emulated by a fetch plus a merge" Actually, yes it can. I do it all the time. by Ajedi32, 20.08.2014 18:23
@Ajedi32 some of what pull does can be emulated by those two, yes. But not the entire command in all possible circumstances. by Roman Starkov, 22.08.2014 14:22
@romkyns True. Perhaps I didn't understand the circumstance mentioned in your comment, but fast-forwards can definitely be done with git merge. by Ajedi32, 23.08.2014 03:09
"while also updating your other remote-tracking branches" What does this mean? by user2906759, 11.09.2014 12:50
@user2906759: Git keeps track, in your local repository, of the state of all the branches on a remote. Google "remote tracking branches" for lots of info about this. by Greg Hewgill, 11.09.2014 18:52
Something I've been playing around with. I often 'git fetch' to pull the changes. If you then 'git pull' though it appears that it goes to the network again. Instead, AFTER the fetch, I've been running 'git merge @{u}' which I think merges in the head of the configured tracking branch without going to the network again. Seems faster. Warning - I'm still experimenting! by Damien Sawyer, 16.12.2014 20:53
Is this the true workings of git pull? Or simply a pseudo-similar behavior? Has anyone looked at the implementation of git pull as really using git fetch and git merge under the hood? Or does git pull has it's own internal logic, which in most situations performs similar operations as to what fetch followed by merge does, but possibly not in all of them? by Didier A., 05.01.2015 16:44
You mentioned a cron job to automatically do git fetch. I think SourceTree has an option to periodically run git fetch, since I seem to notice remote updates in the visual interface even though I didn't run any explicit commands. by Doctor Blue, 22.01.2015 14:16
Now I understand why pull from master into the current branch won't update the branch even if master has new local commits merged in. It's because the merge in pull is merging from FETCH_HEAD and completely ignoring my local master! I wish this important difference was better emphasized in all tutorials which mention pull and claim that it is almost the same as fetch + merge. "Almost" is really important if you are pulling and hoping to do all-in-one - fetch + merge from remote AND merge from local. Surprise - pull does not merge from local branch! by JustAMartin, 21.10.2015 19:53
Does "update remote-tracking branches" mean that all the branches up on the repository now are available on your local repository? by Jwan622, 25.03.2016 16:16
@Jwan622: Yes, that's correct. git branch -a will list them all. by Greg Hewgill, 26.03.2016 01:06
I saw the same answer in Quora :) Here : quora.com/Whats-the-difference-between-git-pulland-git-fetch‌​. by Pragyaditya Das, 02.04.2016 05:27
If you work with a bad internet connection, it may be a good idea to run a cron job to git fetch. by noɥʇʎԀʎzɐɹƆ, 10.10.2016 22:35
Somewhat vague explanations, even in git's ref docs. Docs say "git pull runs git fetch with the given parameters and calls git merge to merge the retrieved branch heads into the current branch." Sounds like a nightmare if ALL fetched are merged into current branch. by Josef.B, 15.12.2016 02:54
Git fetch means you are get new repository from git which is created by someone. Git pull means you are getting new code from the git or some of the repository which is pushed by some one. by Chirag Prajapati, 20.11.2017 18:27
git pull use for getting updated merged code from repository. git fetch is for getting branches in the repository to exchange branch into a new branch. by Hasib Kamal, 19.03.2018 05:10
@GregHewgill If fetch only downloads changes from the remote branch and updates the repository data, but leaves the local branch unchanged, what is the point of fetching if the working directory will not show/reflect the changes? My question originally was that how could I see the changes someone else has done and then decide whether I would like to merge them into my working directory (i.e. experiment with other people's changes to make sure it does not break my work) but I am still confused how to do that. Should I just pul and experiment/explore, and if it was problematic, do a hard reset? by User, 09.06.2018 17:02
@Joshua: After fetching, the remote branches are available with names like origin/master (instead of just master, which is yours). You can view those branches locally to see what's changed before actually merging. by Greg Hewgill, 09.06.2018 23:18
The current (see datetime stamp) Visual Studio Code C/C++ extension sends a popup notification asking to perform periodic git fetch commands. by bscout11, 05.02.2020 05:33
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  • When you use pull, Git tries to automatically do your work for you. It is context sensitive, so Git will merge any pulled commits into the branch you are currently working in. pull automatically merges the commits without letting you review them first. If you don’t closely manage your branches, you may run into frequent conflicts.

  • When you fetch, Git gathers any commits from the target branch that do not exist in your current branch and stores them in your local repository. However, it does not merge them with your current branch. This is particularly useful if you need to keep your repository up to date, but are working on something that might break if you update your files. To integrate the commits into your master branch, you use merge.

18.08.2011 08:53
Agreed, great comment. Which is why I hate git pull. When would it ever make sense to let a revision tool make code edits for you? And isn't that what merging two files is doing? What if those two edits are physically separated in the file, but LOGICALLY at odds? by Lee Dixon, 13.05.2013 18:44
I'm not sure if I understand this correctly. Let me know if I'm right: Lets say I have two branches, master and test. test is a branch that I'm working on to experiment something. If I do git fetch, it updates master with the target branch. If I do git pull, it tries to update test with the target branch. Is this right? If not, I think I don't understand what 'local repository' means - I assumed it means my local master. by elexhobby, 05.06.2013 19:15
@elexhobby short put, git fetch only updates your .git/ directory (AKA: local repository) and nothing outside .git/ (AKA: working tree). It does not change your local branches, and it does not touch master either. It touches remotes/origin/master though (see git branch -avv). If you have more remotes, try git remote update. This is a git fetch for all remotes in one command. by Tino, 17.07.2013 06:48
@Tino yours is really the most important point. People may not know that "remote" branches are actually stored as a bunch of hashes in .git/refs/remotes/origin/. by Chris, 12.09.2013 21:49
Once I understood that everything was going 'though' tracking branches I finally really understood git. Without that knowledge it's just 'magic'. by Michael Durrant, 19.09.2013 19:55
When you fetch, Git gathers any commits from the target branch that do not exist in your current branch and stores them in your local repository - how do I see what was brought from the remote and how do I merge it into my local branches? by アレックス, 13.06.2014 01:40
@Tino What I still don't understand is... what's the point? Why use fetch if it only updates .git? What is the intended benefit and what am I supposed to do after that? by BadHorsie, 23.03.2016 12:19
@BadHorsie git fetch downloads the changesets. by Tino, 30.03.2016 13:40
git pull --ff-only is usually what I want. Does the mindless stuff automatically, asks before making history complicated. by Nick T, 18.12.2017 22:05
I find this answer great. For me a good combination to achieve the goal from git fetch is typing 'git status' and you will see something like : "nothing to commit, working tree clean" then you can type 'git fetch' and then type 'git status' and you will see that your branch is "ahead of the remote repository" or smth like that. If you type "git pull" you will merge the branch but with 'git fetch' you only make conscious your local repository if you are ahead or behind with some commits. by eduardo92, 12.06.2018 13:39
git pull means "fetch remote branches and merge my current branch with whatever random commits have been done in remote branches". That pretty much never makes any sense. git fetch followed by gitk or git log --oneline --graph --decorate --date-order and the maybe git rebase or git merge makes much more sense. by Mikko Rantalainen, 25.10.2018 10:50
It's been a long time, but to answer @BadHorsie's question another way, it's useful to fetch, even though it won't affect your working branch, because you might want to perform comparisons against the remote branch, or you might be going off-line - say on an airplane - and know that you will need that remote data when you can't get it. I'm sure there are even more reasons, but these are the two I run into frequently. by Thagomizer, 23.09.2019 22:11
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It is important to contrast the design philosophy of git with the philosophy of a more traditional source control tool like SVN.

Subversion was designed and built with a client/server model. There is a single repository that is the server, and several clients can fetch code from the server, work on it, then commit it back to the server. The assumption is that the client can always contact the server when it needs to perform an operation.

Git was designed to support a more distributed model with no need for a central repository (though you can certainly use one if you like). Also git was designed so that the client and the "server" don't need to be online at the same time. Git was designed so that people on an unreliable link could exchange code via email, even. It is possible to work completely disconnected and burn a CD to exchange code via git.

In order to support this model git maintains a local repository with your code and also an additional local repository that mirrors the state of the remote repository. By keeping a copy of the remote repository locally, git can figure out the changes needed even when the remote repository is not reachable. Later when you need to send the changes to someone else, git can transfer them as a set of changes from a point in time known to the remote repository.

  • git fetch is the command that says "bring my local copy of the remote repository up to date."

  • git pull says "bring the changes in the remote repository to where I keep my own code."

Normally git pull does this by doing a git fetch to bring the local copy of the remote repository up to date, and then merging the changes into your own code repository and possibly your working copy.

The take away is to keep in mind that there are often at least three copies of a project on your workstation. One copy is your own repository with your own commit history. The second copy is your working copy where you are editing and building. The third copy is your local "cached" copy of a remote repository.

31.03.2013 18:43
Technically, the local and remote repositories are really one and the same. In Git, a repository is a DAG of commits pointing to their parents. Branches are, technically, nothing more than meaningful names of commits. The only difference between local and remote branches is that remote ones are prefixed with remoteName/ Git from the ground up is a very good read. Once you get an understanding of how Git works - and it's beautifully simple, really - everything just makes sense. by Emil Lundberg, 14.08.2013 09:51
Thanks much for the explanation. I didn't really understand until now that Git was designed so you didn't have to have a central repository. Everyone always says "DVCS" when describing Git, but as a relatively new programmer, that means nothing to me. I've never seen a CVCS, and I've also never not worked with a cental remote repository when collaborating with others (i.e. Github), so until now I've yet to understand what made Git special. by Brian Peterson, 15.08.2013 02:17
So, based on this, why ISN'T it a good idea to git-fetch with a cron job? Always keeping a copy of the remote you're working with on your local machine seems like a good idea. In fact, I feel like writing a script that checks to see if I've updated my remote in the past 24 hours and linking it up with a udev hook for internet connection. by Brian Peterson, 15.08.2013 02:23
Silly question - Are these "three copies" maintained by Git and I never see it? or I have downloaded one copy and created two branches? by Nabheet, 14.09.2013 12:47
@Nabheet: I believe the additional copies are not stored as ordinary files on your file system, but instead as alternate histories (changesets) inside your git repository files. by Keen, 17.09.2013 02:55
One reason why it ISN'T a good idea to have a cron job: often when working on either a new ticket, or on updates to a branch, I like to see the changes being fetched. If the changes don't come in during a fetch, I'll be more confident in asking my fellow programmer 'hey did you push?'. I also get a sense of how much 'churn' in the repository since I last fetched. This also help to give me sense of the amount and speed of changes currently being made to this repository. by Michael Durrant, 23.07.2014 11:47
@Nabheet Thing is that, Git is content-oriented. It stores data only once, and points to it multiple times. That's why in Git, even multiple commits on top of an original don't affect the size of the repo much, since most of the objects are the same. by cst1992, 05.11.2016 09:43
this is the most clarifying answer. I like to keep it simple but I would just add some technical names in parenthesis like Head, index and working tree/dir along with the simple explanations/analogies (e.g. where I keep my own code) by Luis Martins, 24.02.2018 02:52
I have a small typo there. So git pull first brings my local copy of the remote repository up to date just like git fetch, then it merges those changes into my local repository where I have my own code. Imagine I have made some local commits, and someone else has made commits and pushed it to a remote repository. At first, I know nothing about the commits the other person made. When I execute git fetch, I get a copy of the other person's work stored locally. Now I can compare it to mine. When I execute git pull I can merge their changes with my changes in my local workspace. by MikeD, 14.03.2018 18:52
@MikeD >> Git was designed to support a more distributed model with no need for a central repository. Read - to support people still committing often during long flights (during which there is no Internet). by haelix, 06.09.2018 18:23
This answer should be combined with the next down by Contango containing the image of the relationship. Then appended to the top answer, by Greg Hewgill, that gives the briefest and clearest explanation of the consequences of pull vs fetch. The order of the answers so far though is, fortunately, effectively that. by GG2, 01.10.2018 18:06
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Here is Oliver Steele's image of how all it all fits together:

enter image description here

If there is sufficient interest, I suppose I could update the image to add git clone and git merge...

09.06.2015 13:30
An updated image with git clone and git merge would be very helpful! by MEMark, 08.09.2015 14:23
Yes, please add git merge - it should clearly show that merge called separately is NOT the same as calling pull because pull is merging from remote only and ignores your local commits in your local branch which is tracking the remote branch being pulled from. by JustAMartin, 21.10.2015 19:57
A picture is worth a thousand words! Is the updated image with clone and merge data flow ready somewhere? Any other data flow besides what's already in the diagram? by shikhanshu, 25.11.2015 00:27
@Contango please add clone and merge. Would be helpful for newbies like me. by rents, 15.01.2016 16:02
There are two diagrams showing clone and merge in other answers (below) by th3sly and thedarkpassenger. by intotecho, 12.08.2016 00:42
Does rebase come from the remote repository? I think that rebase is an operation over the local repository: git-scm.com/docs/git-rebase by Edward Ross, 26.09.2016 09:55
Rebase works on your local repository. The confusion is that the most common use case is to rebase your work on top of something that "came from" a remote repository. by MikeD, 20.06.2017 20:02
This 'pull or rebase' is wrong. Because when you pull, you actually perform a fetch and than a merge. When you fetch, you get new changes from the remote branch to your local branch, but, and that's the important part, it's not added to your files yet. It's like the changes are parked away at some place. The changes will be added to your files, if you merge them. Than you changes are 'melted' to your files and committed. by AndaluZ, 13.09.2017 09:36
Agree with @EdwardRoss, @MikeD and @AndaluZ: Rebase is a local repo to working copy operation. IMEHO, I'd change this so that Pull is remote repo to both local repo and working copy; Fetch is remote repo to local repo, and both Merge and Rebase are local repo to working copy. Part of the confusion ensues because git rebase is like git checkout, it's one command that has several different effects. e.g. git checkout can have the effect of either svn switch or svn revert (and others) depending on how it's used. by dgnuff, 27.03.2018 20:10
Still waiting on the updated image 4 years later :) by JOATMON, 10.10.2019 18:50
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One use case of git fetch is that the following will tell you any changes in the remote branch since your last pull... so you can check before doing an actual pull, which could change files in your current branch and working copy.

git fetch
git diff ...origin

See: https://git-scm.com/docs/git-diff regarding double- and triple-dot syntax in the diff command

07.05.2010 19:23
why not git diff ..origin? by Erik Kaplun, 12.02.2012 23:47
git diff origin and git diff ..origin seem to work but not this weird ... stuff by Marc, 08.01.2013 19:32
@Compustretch There was not supposed to be a space. git diff ...origin is equivalent to git diff $(git-merge-base HEAD origin) origin (see the git diff [--options] <commit>...<commit> [--] [<path>…] section of kernel.org/pub/software/scm/git/docs/git-diff.html#_descript‌​ion), which is different from git diff origin; git diff ...origin is conceptually the changes made in origin since the current branch branched from origin, while git diff origin includes also the reverse of the changes made in the current branch since it branched from origin. by Max Nanasy, 01.08.2013 19:34
none of the .. commands worked for me (on Windows), but git diff origin/master works, as mentioned below by Brian Burns, 20.02.2014 09:07
same here using git 2.0.0 on OSX. None of these commands worked. Have they been deprecated? by K.-Michael Aye, 26.06.2014 02:39

It cost me a little bit to understand what was the difference, but this is a simple explanation. master in your localhost is a branch.

When you clone a repository you fetch the entire repository to you local host. This means that at that time you have an origin/master pointer to HEAD and master pointing to the same HEAD.

when you start working and do commits you advance the master pointer to HEAD + your commits. But the origin/master pointer is still pointing to what it was when you cloned.

So the difference will be:

  • If you do a git fetch it will just fetch all the changes in the remote repository (GitHub) and move the origin/master pointer to HEAD. Meanwhile your local branch master will keep pointing to where it has.
  • If you do a git pull, it will do basically fetch (as explained previously) and merge any new changes to your master branch and move the pointer to HEAD.
11.05.2012 18:37
origin/master is a local branch that is a COPY of master on origin. When you fetch, you update local:/origin/master. Once you really grok that everything in git is a branch, this makes a lot of sense and is a very powerful way to maintain different changesets, make quick local branches, merge and rebase, and generally get a lot of value out of the cheap branching model. by cam8001, 28.05.2013 16:00
Still confusing. I thought git fetch was to literally download changes on the remote repo into your local repo, but NOT commit them - ie, they still need to be added/committed to your local repo. by krb686, 26.02.2015 14:57
fetch only pulls from remote/origin (github) to your local origin. But it doesn't merge it to your actual working files. if you do a pull it will fetch and the merge to your current working files by Gerardo, 26.02.2015 19:45
what if you're not happy with the changes after you git fetch? what to do next? by Ahmad, 28.12.2020 23:42
@Ahmad git fetch fetches data from the remote repository. If you are not happy with the some commits that other collaborators pushed, then do a fetch it. Merge it . Undo the commits and the push back to remote repository by Jdeep, 05.04.2021 10:14


git fetch is similar to pull but doesn't merge. i.e. it fetches remote updates (refs and objects) but your local stays the same (i.e. origin/master gets updated but master stays the same) .

git pull pulls down from a remote and instantly merges.


git clone clones a repo.

git rebase saves stuff from your current branch that isn't in the upstream branch to a temporary area. Your branch is now the same as before you started your changes. So, git pull -rebase will pull down the remote changes, rewind your local branch, replay your changes over the top of your current branch one by one until you're up-to-date.

Also, git branch -a will show you exactly what’s going on with all your branches - local and remote.

This blog post was useful:

The difference between git pull, git fetch and git clone (and git rebase) - Mike Pearce

and covers git pull, git fetch, git clone and git rebase.


I thought I'd update this to show how you'd actually use this in practice.

  1. Update your local repo from the remote (but don't merge):

     git fetch 
  2. After downloading the updates, let's see the differences:

     git diff master origin/master 
  3. If you're happy with those updates, then merge:

     git pull


On step 2: For more on diffs between local and remotes, see: How to compare a local git branch with its remote branch?

On step 3: It's probably more accurate (e.g. on a fast changing repo) to do a git rebase origin here. See @Justin Ohms comment in another answer.

See also: http://longair.net/blog/2009/04/16/git-fetch-and-merge/

13.04.2013 17:31
Sounds to me like if someone just wants the local code to reflect "the tip", they should use git clone. I put the tip in quotes, as I assume it would mean whatever master is and what someone would "Download as zip" from github.com by Chris K, 12.09.2013 08:27
what if you're not happy with the changes after you git fetch? what to do next? by Kugutsumen, 24.03.2015 06:06
Your paragraph on rebase was just what I was looking for. The whole idea about zeroing out of everything, updating from remote, then replaying your changes on top of previous commits that happened while you were working. Perfect explanation assuming it's correct. ;) by coblr, 03.03.2016 00:01

Sometimes a visual representation helps.

enter image description here

25.01.2016 17:28
I think the picture got to show that it affects the local repo too. That's is, Git pull is a combination of affecting the local repo and working copy. Right now it seems it just affect the working copy. by nonopolarity, 14.02.2016 18:51
@太極者無極而生 Agreed -- this image is pretty misleading, because it makes it look like git pull is skipping the fetch, which of course is inaccurate. by forresthopkinsa, 20.08.2016 15:33
whats a difference between a 'Local Repository' and a 'Working Copy'? Aren't they both local on the computer? by theITvideos, 16.11.2017 03:12
What is use of git fetch then? how to see what difference is there in local repository and working copy? by Vikash, 13.03.2019 06:56
@theITvideos No, it is not. A local repository is where your code goes(from working repository) when you commit . (It goes to remote repo when you push). by Vikash, 13.03.2019 06:59
this post has lots of upvotes but the picture is misleading. Pull is skipping local repo which is not true. codeahoy.com/img/git-pull-vs-fetch.png by goblinjuice, 02.02.2020 14:35
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git-pull - Fetch from and merge with another repository or a local branch

git pull   …

Runs git-fetch with the given parameters, and calls git-merge to merge the 
retrieved head(s) into the current branch. With --rebase, calls git-rebase 
instead of git-merge.

Note that you can use . (current directory) as the <repository> to pull 
from the local repository — this is useful when merging local branches 
into the current branch.

Also note that options meant for git-pull itself and underlying git-merge 
must be given before the options meant for git-fetch.

You would pull if you want the histories merged, you'd fetch if you just 'want the codez' as some person has been tagging some articles around here.

15.11.2008 09:52
Very interesting, but I can't really see a use case where you want "just the code". Et what happen with your code when you fetch? Is it erased? What happen whith the remote changes? How does it goes into your repo whithout erasing your code if you don't merge? by e-satis, 27.03.2010 16:21
@e-satis: The remote branch is also stored locally on your machine. So when you do git fetch it fetches changes from the repository and updates your local remote branch. It does not affect your local branch which tracks the local remote branch, so does not affect your working copy. Now, when you do a merge it will merge the fetched changes with your local branch. by jeffreyveon, 31.10.2011 04:23
A simple use case for the fetch command: perform time consuming operations involving other people's recent commits, such as a merge or a code review, accessing only your up-to-date local repository without network connectivity requirements, because you previously used fetch to download everything you need quickly (e.g. while you are visiting some other developer and connected to some other repository's network). The pull command would download the same commits, but the merging it performs can be undesirable. by Lorenzo Gatti, 19.09.2013 10:25

You can fetch from a remote repository, see the differences and then pull or merge.

This is an example for a remote repository called origin and a branch called master tracking the remote branch origin/master:

git checkout master                                                  
git fetch                                        
git diff origin/master
git rebase origin master
21.03.2011 11:07
You probably want to skip the pull and just do a "git rebase origin" as the last step since you already fetched the changes. The reason is that someone could have pushed changes in the time since you did the fetch and these would not have been in fetch that you did the diff review on. by Justin Ohms, 31.08.2012 20:02

The short and easy answer is that git pull is simply git fetch followed by git merge.

It is very important to note that git pull will automatically merge whether you like it or not. This could, of course, result in merge conflicts. Let's say your remote is origin and your branch is master. If you git diff origin/master before pulling, you should have some idea of potential merge conflicts and could prepare your local branch accordingly.

In addition to pulling and pushing, some workflows involve git rebase, such as this one, which I paraphrase from the linked article:

git pull origin master
git checkout foo-branch
git rebase master
git push origin foo-branch

If you find yourself in such a situation, you may be tempted to git pull --rebase. Unless you really, really know what you are doing, I would advise against that. This warning is from the man page for git-pull, version 2.3.5:

This is a potentially dangerous mode of operation. It rewrites history, which does not bode well when you published that history already. Do not use this option unless you have read git-rebase(1) carefully.

15.05.2011 20:53
@JustinOhms If git pull --rebase is not the right thing in the given situation, is it right if it is done in two steps? If it is the right thing to do, what is extra the benefit to doing it in two steps? by Kaz, 23.05.2013 21:56
@Kaz - because the rebase is not automatic. Fetching the changes first allows you to make the judgement call. It doesn't fix the problem with rebasing history you've already pushed. It will allow you to see if it is safe to rebase changes you have not already pushed. by Justin Ohms, 24.05.2013 21:11
@JustinOhms How would you decide whether it is safe to rebase changes? I would just try git rebase, and backtrack if it made a mess, in which case I might as well do git pull --rebase. But maybe you have some other way? by Kaz, 25.05.2013 06:14
@KaZ gitk allows you to see the branch structure visually. It will show your the position of your local head, remotes, and your branch structures in relation to what you have fetched. This way you can ensure that you are not rebasing fetched changes that are based on an ancestor that is prior to what you have already pushed to your remote(s). by Justin Ohms, 28.05.2013 19:18
Use rebase when you are working on a local branch not already pushed. If you are working on a branch that exists in the remote, rebase can result in some nasty issues so you should prefer a regular merge. by Justus Romijn, 01.12.2014 08:39
git pull --rebase is fine if you are working with exactly one remote, so your changes are either local only (in which case they are fine to rebase) or are already one the remote (in which case they won't be rebased). The time when git pull --rebase becomes risky is when you are working with multiple remotes. by plugwash, 19.01.2020 14:57
Show remaining 1 comments

OK, here is some information about git pull and git fetch, so you can understand the actual differences... in few simple words, fetch gets the latest data, but not the code changes and not going to mess with your current local branch code, but pull get the code changes and merge it your local branch, read on to get more details about each:

git fetch

It will download all refs and objects and any new branches to your local Repository...

Fetch branches and/or tags (collectively, "refs") from one or more other repositories, along with the objects necessary to complete their histories. Remote-tracking branches are updated (see the description of below for ways to control this behavior).

By default, any tag that points into the histories being fetched is also fetched; the effect is to fetch tags that point at branches that you are interested in. This default behavior can be changed by using the --tags or --no-tags options or by configuring remote..tagOpt. By using a refspec that fetches tags explicitly, you can fetch tags that do not point into branches you are interested in as well.

git fetch can fetch from either a single named repository or URL or from several repositories at once if is given and there is a remotes. entry in the configuration file. (See git-config1).

When no remote is specified, by default the origin remote will be used, unless there’s an upstream branch configured for the current branch.

The names of refs that are fetched, together with the object names they point at, are written to .git/FETCH_HEAD. This information may be used by scripts or other git commands, such as git-pull.

git pull

It will apply the changes from remote to the current branch in local...

Incorporates changes from a remote repository into the current branch. In its default mode, git pull is shorthand for git fetch followed by git merge FETCH_HEAD.

More precisely, git pull runs git fetch with the given parameters and calls git merge to merge the retrieved branch heads into the current branch. With --rebase, it runs git rebase instead of git merge.

should be the name of a remote repository as passed to git-fetch1. can name an arbitrary remote ref (for example, the name of a tag) or even a collection of refs with corresponding remote-tracking branches (e.g., refs/heads/:refs/remotes/origin/), but usually it is the name of a branch in the remote repository.

Default values for and are read from the "remote" and "merge" configuration for the current branch as set by git-branch --track.

I also create the visual below to show you how git fetch and git pull working together...

git pull and git fetch

21.06.2017 09:48
If you like the image then take a look at the git cheat sheet, which is the same sort of things for all git commands... ndpsoftware.com/git-cheatsheet.html by Tom, 20.05.2018 16:42
Doesn't clone also affect the local repository (copying all the history from remote)? by Tom Loredo, 04.07.2018 04:38

enter image description here

This interactive graphical representation is very helpful in understanging git: http://ndpsoftware.com/git-cheatsheet.html

git fetch just "downloads" the changes from the remote to your local repository. git pull downloads the changes and merges them into your current branch. "In its default mode, git pull is shorthand for git fetch followed by git merge FETCH_HEAD."

06.02.2015 11:48
People, click on the link to interact with the different columns. This cheatsheet is the best resource I've seen to fully understand the differences between each command. by M. Luisa Carrión, 04.10.2016 00:41
THis Answer must go to the top by Trect, 26.10.2019 06:12
"A picture is worth 1000 words". This webpage is an excellent resource for anyone who wants a simple, pictorial description of Git's various workflows. Thanks for posting this link. by Jim Fischer, 30.08.2020 03:59


In speaking of pull & fetch in the above answers, I would like to share an interesting trick,

git pull --rebase

This above command is the most useful command in my git life which saved a lots of time.

Before pushing your new commits to server, try this command and it will automatically sync latest server changes (with a fetch + merge) and will place your commit at the top in git log. No need to worry about manual pull/merge.

Find details at: http://gitolite.com/git-pull--rebase

23.12.2015 15:31
Nice tip, though it's worth mentioning to new git users that rebase modifies commit hashes (I found that surprising coming from subversion). by AlexMA, 20.09.2016 12:57
Can you explain what is difference between git pull and git pull --rebase ? by Shaiju T, 17.01.2018 07:02
See the stark warning about this method in an answer above: stackoverflow.com/a/6011169/241244 by User, 24.10.2018 08:00

I like to have some visual representation of the situation to grasp these things. Maybe other developers would like to see it too, so here's my addition. I'm not totally sure that it all is correct, so please comment if you find any mistakes.

                                         LOCAL SYSTEM
                  . =====================================================    
================= . =================  ===================  =============
(ORIGIN)          . (CACHED)           
for example,      . mirror of the      
a github repo.    . remote repo
Can also be       .
multiple repo's   .
FETCH  *------------------>*
Your local cache of the remote is updated with the origin (or multiple
external sources, that is git's distributed nature)
PULL   *-------------------------------------------------------->*
changes are merged directly into your local copy. when conflicts occur, 
you are asked for decisions.
COMMIT            .                             *<---------------*
When coming from, for example, subversion, you might think that a commit
will update the origin. In git, a commit is only done to your local repo.
PUSH   *<---------------------------------------*
Synchronizes your changes back into the origin.

Some major advantages for having a fetched mirror of the remote are:

  • Performance (scroll through all commits and messages without trying to squeeze it through the network)
  • Feedback about the state of your local repo (for example, I use Atlassian's SourceTree, which will give me a bulb indicating if I'm commits ahead or behind compared to the origin. This information can be updated with a GIT FETCH).
19.02.2014 21:18
Doesn't a git pull also perform a merge, i.e. going all the way to the working copy? by Kamiel Wanrooij, 24.03.2014 17:28
Good point, yes it will put all the changes in your working copy, and then you can commit it yourself into the local repo. I will update the visual. by Justus Romijn, 25.03.2014 07:50
@JustusRomijn Doesn't a pull also update the local repository? Shouldn't there be an asterisk between the origin and working copy asterisks? by user764754, 08.01.2015 09:34
@user764754 When you pull, your working copy get the changes (there can also be some conflicts which you might need to resolve). You still have to commit it into your local repository. by Justus Romijn, 12.01.2015 07:17
@JustusRomijn:Thanks for the illustration.It would be great if you can make the diagram more comprehensive by illustrating the effects of operations such as reset ,cherry pick on the repository states. by jith912, 17.01.2015 12:42
@jith912 I think it would be a bit outside of the scope of this question topic, but I might create such one and put it on a blog. If I do, I will add the link here for reference. by Justus Romijn, 19.01.2015 08:11
@jith912 in one of the answers this link is provided: ndpsoftware.com/git-cheatsheet.html by Justus Romijn, 13.02.2015 10:35
Show remaining 2 comments

I have struggled with this as well. In fact I got here with a google search of exactly the same question. Reading all these answers finally painted a picture in my head and I decided to try to get this down looking at the state of the 2 repositories and 1 sandbox and actions performed over time while watching the version of them. So here is what I came up with. Please correct me if I messed up anywhere.

The three repos with a fetch:

---------------------     -----------------------     -----------------------
- Remote Repo       -     - Remote Repo         -     - Remote Repo         -
-                   -     - gets pushed         -     -                     -
- @ R01             -     - @ R02               -     - @ R02               -
---------------------     -----------------------     -----------------------

---------------------     -----------------------     -----------------------
- Local Repo        -     - Local Repo          -     - Local Repo          -
- pull              -     -                     -     - fetch               -
- @ R01             -     - @ R01               -     - @ R02               -
---------------------     -----------------------     -----------------------

---------------------     -----------------------     -----------------------
- Local Sandbox     -     - Local Sandbox       -     - Local Sandbox       -
- Checkout          -     - new work done       -     -                     -
- @ R01             -     - @ R01+              -     - @R01+               -
---------------------     -----------------------     -----------------------

The three repos with a pull

---------------------     -----------------------     -----------------------
- Remote Repo       -     - Remote Repo         -     - Remote Repo         -
-                   -     - gets pushed         -     -                     -
- @ R01             -     - @ R02               -     - @ R02               -
---------------------     -----------------------     -----------------------

---------------------     -----------------------     -----------------------
- Local Repo        -     - Local Repo          -     - Local Repo          -
- pull              -     -                     -     - pull                -
- @ R01             -     - @ R01               -     - @ R02               -
---------------------     -----------------------     -----------------------

---------------------     -----------------------     -----------------------
- Local Sandbox     -     - Local Sandbox       -     - Local Sandbox       -
- Checkout          -     - new work done       -     - merged with R02     -
- @ R01             -     - @ R01+              -     - @R02+               -
---------------------     -----------------------     -----------------------

This helped me understand why a fetch is pretty important.

17.07.2012 16:43
Not that hard to read: the boxes represent the status of a repo, that in each row changes in time left-to-right after the reported operation in row 2 of the box. The labels R0n are tags in git, and a tag with a + is yet uncommited stuff. Sanbox is used for your working folder, which is different from the repo folder, where commited stuff is stored. by user1708042, 30.08.2017 07:57

The Difference between GIT Fetch and GIT Pull can be explained with the following scenario: (Keeping in mind that pictures speak louder than words!, I have provided pictorial representation)

Let's take an example that you are working on a project with your team members. So there will be one main Branch of the project and all the contributors must fork it to their own local repository and then work on this local branch to modify/Add modules then push back to the main branch.

So, Initial State of the two Branches when you forked the main project on your local repository will be like this- (A, B and C are Modules already completed of the project)

enter image description here

Now, you have started working on the new module (suppose D) and when you have completed the D module you want to push it to the main branch, But meanwhile what happens is that one of your teammates has developed new Module E, F and modified C.
So now what has happened is that your local repository is lacking behind the original progress of the project and thus pushing of your changes to the main branch can lead to conflict and may cause your Module D to malfunction.

enter image description here

To avoid such issues and to work parallel with the original progress of the project there are Two ways:

1. Git Fetch- This will Download all the changes that have been made to the origin/main branch project which are not present in your local branch. And will wait for the Git Merge command to apply the changes that have been fetched to your Repository or branch.

enter image description here

So now You can carefully monitor the files before merging it to your repository. And you can also modify D if required because of Modified C.

enter image description here

2. Git Pull- This will update your local branch with the origin/main branch i.e. actually what it does is a combination of Git Fetch and Git merge one after another. But this may Cause Conflicts to occur, so it’s recommended to use Git Pull with a clean copy.

enter image description here

07.02.2017 14:15
if you could change 'Main Branch' to 'Remote Repo', it would be a great answer. by Fuevo, 04.06.2018 00:17

We simply say:

git pull == git fetch + git merge

If you run git pull, you do not need to merge the data to local. If you run git fetch, it means you must run git merge for getting the latest code to your local machine. Otherwise, the local machine code would not be changed without merge.

So in the Git Gui, when you do fetch, you have to merge the data. Fetch itself won't make the code changes at your local. You can check that when you update the code by fetching once fetch and see; the code it won't change. Then you merge... You will see the changed code.

21.02.2013 13:25
I'd rather say git pull == git fetch + git merge :) by melvynkim, 07.06.2013 10:38
But git pull --rebase = git fetch + git rebase by Tino, 17.07.2013 07:06

git fetch pulls down the code from the remote server to your tracking branches in your local repository. If your remote is named origin (the default) then these branches will be within origin/, for example origin/master, origin/mybranch-123, etc. These are not your current branches, they are local copies of those branches from the server.

git pull does a git fetch but then also merges the code from the tracking branch into your current local version of that branch. If you're not ready for that changes yet, just git fetch first.

19.09.2013 20:01

git fetch will retrieve remote branches so that you can git diff or git merge them with the current branch. git pull will run fetch on the remote brach tracked by the current branch and then merge the result. You can use git fetch to see if there are any updates to the remote branch without necessary merging them with your local branch.

26.11.2012 21:58

Git Fetch

You download changes to your local branch from origin through fetch. Fetch asks the remote repo for all commits that others have made but you don't have on your local repo. Fetch downloads these commits and adds them to the local repository.

Git Merge

You can apply changes downloaded through fetch using the merge command. Merge will take the commits retrieved from fetch and try to add them to your local branch. The merge will keep the commit history of your local changes so that when you share your branch with push, Git will know how others can merge your changes.

Git Pull

Fetch and merge run together often enough that a command that combines the two, pull, was created. Pull does a fetch and then a merge to add the downloaded commits into your local branch.

13.07.2016 21:23

In simple terms, if you were about to hop onto a plane without any Internet connection...before departing you could just do git fetch origin <branch>. It would fetch all the changes into your computer, but keep it separate from your local development/workspace.

On the plane, you could make changes to your local workspace and then merge it with what you've previously fetched and then resolve potential merge conflicts all without a connection to the Internet. And unless someone had made new changes to the remote repository then once you arrive at the destination you would do git push origin <branch> and go get your coffee.

From this awesome Atlassian tutorial:

The git fetch command downloads commits, files, and refs from a remote repository into your local repository.

Fetching is what you do when you want to see what everybody else has been working on. It’s similar to SVN update in that it lets you see how the central history has progressed, but it doesn’t force you to actually merge the changes into your repository. Git isolates fetched content as a from existing local content, it has absolutely no effect on your local development work. Fetched content has to be explicitly checked out using the git checkout command. This makes fetching a safe way to review commits before integrating them with your local repository.

When downloading content from a remote repository, git pull and git fetch commands are available to accomplish the task. You can consider git fetch the 'safe' version of the two commands. It will download the remote content, but not update your local repository's working state, leaving your current work intact. git pull is the more aggressive alternative, it will download the remote content for the active local branch and immediately execute git merge to create a merge commit for the new remote content. If you have pending changes in progress this will cause conflicts and kickoff the merge conflict resolution flow.

With git pull:

  • You don't get any isolation.
  • It doesn't need to be explicitly checked out. Because it implicitly does a git merge.
  • The merging step will affect your local development and may cause conflicts
  • It's basically NOT safe. It's aggressive.
  • Unlike git fetch where it only affects your .git/refs/remotes, git pull will affect both your .git/refs/remotes and .git/refs/heads/

Hmmm...so if I'm not updating the working copy with git fetch, then where am I making changes? Where does Git fetch store the new commits?

Great question. First and foremost, the heads or remotes don't store the new commits. They just have pointers to commits. So with git fetch you download the latest git objects (blob, tree, commits. To fully understand the objects watch this video on git internals), but only update your remotes pointer to point to the latest commit of that branch. It's still isolated from your working copy, because your branch's pointer in the heads directory hasn't updated. It will only update upon a merge/pull. But again where? Let's find out.

In your project directory (i.e., where you do your git commands) do:

  1. ls. This will show the files & directories. Nothing cool, I know.

  2. Now do ls -a. This will show dot files, i.e., files beginning with . You will then be able to see a directory named: .git.

  3. Do cd .git. This will obviously change your directory.

  4. Now comes the fun part; do ls. You will see a list of directories. We're looking for refs. Do cd refs.

  5. It's interesting to see what's inside all directories, but let's focus on two of them. heads and remotes. Use cd to check inside them too.

  6. Any git fetch that you do will update the pointer in the /.git/refs/remotes directory. It won't update anything in the /.git/refs/heads directory.

  7. Any git pull will first do the git fetch, update items in the /.git/refs/remotes directory, then merge with your local and then change the head inside the /.git/refs/heads directory.

A very good related answer can also be found in Where does 'git fetch' place itself?.

Also, look for "Slash notation" from the Git branch naming conventions post. It helps you better understand how Git places things in different directories.

To see the actual difference

Just do:

git fetch origin master
git checkout master

If the remote master was updated you'll get a message like this:

Your branch is behind 'origin/master' by 2 commits, and can be fast-forwarded.
  (use "git pull" to update your local branch)

If you didn't fetch and just did git checkout master then your local git wouldn't know that there are 2 commits added. And it would just say:

Already on 'master'
Your branch is up to date with 'origin/master'.

But that's outdated and incorrect. It's because git will give you feedback solely based on what it knows. It's oblivious to new commits that it hasn't pulled down yet...

Is there any way to see the new changes made in remote while working on the branch locally?

Some IDEs (e.g. Xcode) are super smart and use the result of a git fetch and can annotate the lines of code that have been changed in remote branch of your current working branch. If that line has been changed by both local changes and remote branch, then that line gets annotated with red. This isn't a merge conflict. It's a potential merge conflict. It's a headsup that you can use to resolve the future merge conflict before doing git pull from the remote branch.

enter image description here

Fun tip:

If you fetched a remote branch e.g. did:

git fetch origin feature/123

Then this would go into your remotes directory. It's still not available to your local directory. However, it simplifies your checkout to that remote branch by DWIM (Do what I mean):

git checkout feature/123

you no longer need to do:

git checkout -b feature/123 origin/feature/123

For more on that read here

12.02.2019 19:25

The only difference between git pull and git fetch is that :

git pull pulls from a remote branch and merges it.

git fetch only fetches from the remote branch but it does not merge

i.e. git pull = git fetch + git merge ...

04.06.2013 14:08
And neither help if git thinks you are behind by commits and can "fast-forward", which upon I ended up rm -rfing the whole thing and starting over. Stupid Git, please just let me get current so I can go back to work? by Chris K, 11.09.2013 22:01

Git allows chronologically older commits to be applied after newer commits. Because of this, the act of transferring commits between repositories is split into two steps:

  1. Copying new commits from remote branch to copy of this remote branch inside local repo.

    (repo to repo operation) master@remote >> remote/origin/master@local

  2. Integrating new commits to local branch

    (inside-repo operation) remote/origin/master@local >> master@local

There are two ways of doing step 2. You can:

  1. Fork local branch after last common ancestor and add new commits parallel to commits which are unique to local repository, finalized by merging commit, closing the fork.
  2. Insert new commits after last common ancestor and reapply commits unique to local repository.

In git terminology, step 1 is git fetch, step 2 is git merge or git rebase

git pull is git fetch and git merge

28.11.2013 17:03

What is the difference between git pull and git fetch?

To understand this, you first need to understand that your local git maintains not only your local repository, but it also maintains a local copy of the remote repository.

git fetch brings your local copy of the remote repository up to date. For example, if your remote repository is GitHub - you may want to fetch any changes made in the remote repository to your local copy of it the remote repository. This will allow you to perform operations such as compare or merge.

git pull on the other hand will bring down the changes in the remote repository to where you keep your own code. Typically, git pull will do a git fetch first to bring the local copy of the remote repository up to date, and then it will merge the changes into your own code repository and possibly your working copy.

19.05.2015 11:57

Git obtains the branch of the latest version from the remote to the local using two commands:

  1. git fetch: Git is going to get the latest version from remote to local, but it do not automatically merge.      git fetch origin master git log -p master..origin/master git merge origin/master

         The commands above mean that download latest version of the main branch from origin from the remote to origin master branch. And then compares the local master branch and origin master branch. Finally, merge.

  2. git pull: Git is going to get the latest version from the remote and merge into the local.

        git pull origin master

         The command above is the equivalent to git fetch and git merge. In practice, git fetch maybe more secure because before the merge we can see the changes and decide whether to merge.

12.08.2014 04:00

git pull == ( git fetch + git merge)

git fetch does not changes to local branches.

If you already have a local repository with a remote set up for the desired project, you can grab all branches and tags for the existing remote using git fetch . ... Fetch does not make any changes to local branches, so you will need to merge a remote branch with a paired local branch to incorporate newly fetch changes. from github

19.09.2013 22:41

Trying to be clear and simple.

The git pull command is actually a shortcut for git fetch followed by the git merge or the git rebase command depending on your configuration. You can configure your Git repository so that git pull is a fetch followed by a rebase.

29.07.2015 18:38

Actually Git maintains a copy of your own code and the remote repository.

The command git fetch makes your local copy up to date by getting data from remote repository. The reason we need this is because somebody else might have made some changes to the code and you want to keep yourself updated.

The command git pull brings the changes in the remote repository to where you keep your own code. Normally, git pull does this by doing a ‘git fetch’ first to bring the local copy of the remote repository up to date, and then it merges the changes into your own code repository and possibly your working copy.

13.09.2015 18:48

A simple Graphical Representation for Beginners,

enter image description here


git pull  

will fetch code from repository and rebase with your local... in git pull there is possibility of new commits getting created.

but in ,

git fetch

will fetch code from repository and we need to rebase it manually by using git rebase

eg: i am going to fetch from server master and rebase it in my local master.

1) git pull ( rebase will done automatically):

git pull origin master

here origin is your remote repo master is your branch

2) git fetch (need to rebase manually):

git fetch origin master

it will fetch server changes from origin. and it will be in your local until you rebase it on your own. we need to fix conflicts manually by checking codes.

git rebase origin/master

this will rebase code into local. before that ensure you're in right branch.

12.07.2017 06:23
Nice graph, but you might want to explain why you use "rebase" when the graph says "merge". by Guntram Blohm, 10.10.2018 09:33
merge will represent another branch commit and produce new commit which contains commits as a reference. but rebase will replicate commits from another branch it wont create new commit rather than it replicate by Mohideen bin Mohammed, 10.10.2018 11:00
git pull = git fetch + git merge 
12.07.2015 03:54

git pull

It performs two functions using a single command.

It fetches all the changes that were made to the remote branch and then merges those changes into your local branch. You can also modify the behaviour of pull by passing --rebase. The difference between merge and rebase can be read here

git fetch

Git fetch does only half the work of git pull. It just brings the remote changes into your local repo but does not apply them onto your branches.You have to explicitly apply those changes. This can be done as follows:

git fetch
git rebase origin/master
12.07.2015 05:39

One must keep in mind the nature of git. You have remotes and your local branches ( not necessarily the same ) . In comparison to other source control systems this can be a bit perplexing.

Usually when you checkout a remote a local copy is created that tracks the remote.

git fetch will work with the remote branch and update your information.

It is actually the case if other SWEs are working one the same branch, and rarely the case in small one dev - one branch - one project scenarios.

Your work on the local branch is still intact. In order to bring the changes to your local branch you have to merge/rebase the changes from the remote branch.

git pull does exactly these two steps ( i.e. --rebase to rebase instead of merge )

If your local history and the remote history have conflicts the you will be forced to do the merge during a git push to publish your changes.

Thus it really depends on the nature of your work environment and experience what to use.

25.09.2015 09:46

All branches are stored in .git/refs

All local branches are stored in .git/refs/heads

All remote branches are stored in .git/refs/remotes

The git fetch command downloads commits, files, and refs from a remote repository into your local repo. Fetching is what you do when you want to see what everybody else has been working on.

So when you do git fetch all the files, commits, and refs are downloaded in

this directory .git/refs/remotes

You can switch to these branches to see the changes.

Also, you can merge them if you want.

git pull just downloads these changes and also merges them to the current branch.


If you want see the work of remote branch dev/jd/feature/auth, you just need to do

git fetch origin dev/jd/feature/auth

to see the changes or work progress do,

git checkout dev/jd/feature/auth

But, If you also want to fetch and merge them in the current branch do,

git pull origin dev/jd/feature/auth

If you do git fetch origin branch_name, it will fetch the branch, now you can switch to this branch you want and see the changes. Your local master or other local branches won't be affected. But git pull origin branch_name will fetch the branch and will also merge to the current branch.

07.11.2019 06:54

Simple explanation:

git fetch

fetches the metadata. If you want to check out a recently created branch you may want to do a fetch before checkout.

git pull

Fetches the metadata from remote and also moved the files from remote and merge on to the branch

13.05.2020 16:32
If you decide to answer an older question that has well established and correct answers, adding a new answer late in the day may not get you any credit. If you have some distinctive new information, or you're convinced the other answers are all wrong, by all means add a new answer, but 'yet another answer' giving the same basic information a long time after the question was asked usually won't earn you much credit. by Jonathan Leffler, 19.05.2020 05:13
I think this is one of the better answers, though it's more than just metadata. I would say that "git fetch only modifies files in the hidden .git folder, including metadata and copies of all the remote branches, whereas git pull also changes the files in your current local branch". If someone had explained it that way a few years ago my transition from svn to git would have been a lot faster! All these other answers have a ridiculous amount of exposition that is not particularly helpful IMO. by WiringHarness, 12.04.2021 23:13
Glad you feel so by Akash Yellappa, 14.04.2021 20:39

Git Fetch

Helps you to get known about the latest updates from a git repository. Let's say you working in a team using GitFlow, where team working on multiple branches ( features ). With git fetch --all command you can get known about all new branches within repository.

Mostly git fetch is used with git reset. For example you want to revert all your local changes to the current repository state.

git fetch --all // get known about latest updates
git reset --hard origin/[branch] // revert to current branch state

Git pull

This command update your branch with current repository branch state. Let's continue with GitFlow. Multiple feature branches was merged to develop branch and when you want to develop new features for the project you must go to the develop branch and do a git pull to get the current state of develop branch

Documentation for GitFlow https://gist.github.com/peterdeweese/4251497

22.12.2017 20:36

This graphic could be of help. git pull is essentially equivalent to git fetch then git merge

This graphic could be of help. git pull is essentially equivalent to git fetch then git merge

19.11.2020 09:20
git merge does not only affect your working copy... by masterxilo, 15.12.2020 19:34

A git repository contains immutable data blobs and a few mutable pointers/references/names (we call them branches, HEADS) for usability (in theory, git could be a pure append-only store, accessed only by commit hashes).

The immutable blobs are usually always eventually shared among all contributors. Every developer has a copy of all of these on his machine.

git fetch downloads the latest blobs and remote mutable files to your machine.

It does not change your mutable files nor create any blobs that did not previously exist somewhere.

git pull is git fetch then git merge. git merge creates new blobs that never existed in the remote repository before and updates your mutable files (your references).

15.12.2020 19:32