Debugging Git Ignore
Last updated on by Paul Redmond
Sometimes you might create a file that is unexpectedly ignored by git. Although it doesn’t happen often, it can be tricky to figure out which
.gitignore file is responsible for ignoring a file in your project. It is super easy once you know about a handy git command!
For the impatient, the TLDR of figuring out why git ignores a file:
git check-ignore -v path/to/ignored/file
The key is the
-v flag to be able to see the path and line number of the ignore file causing your file to be ignored by git.
Example Git Ignore
Let’s go over a quick scenario and then a handy git command you can use to debug which .gitignore file is ignoring a folder/file/etc.
When the culprit is a
.gitignore file in a project, it’s more straightforward to figure out why a file is being ignored, however, if you configure a global excludes file in
~/.gitconfig it can be a little trickier to debug and might leave you scratching your head for a minute as to why you don’t see a new untracked file.
Here’s an example of configuring a global ignore file in your
~/.gitconfig. I like to manage this for files I want to be ignored across all my projects, but they aren’t necessarily useful for the project’s .gitignore file:
[core]excludesfile = ~/.gitignore# ...
I ran into this recently when trying to create a bunch of Sublime text snippets in a dedicated snippet repo. My global ignore file had this line:
I use this ignore rule to ignore
*.sublime-project files across all my repositories and inadvertently that includes files that end in
If you want to try it out, add the above rule to your global .gitignore file and then try to create a
.sublime-snippet file in a git project. You should see that creating a file doesn’t look like an untracked file:
touch test.sublime-snippetgit status# On branch master# nothing to commit, working tree clean
Next, run the following command to determine why the file is being ignored by using the
git check-ignore -v test.sublime-snippet/Users/paul/.gitignore:5:*.sublime-* test.sublime-snippet
As you can see, the
check-ignore command outputs my global ignore file and the line number.
check-ignore command is straightforward once you know about it, it’s a useful thing to learn to troubleshoot ignored files that shouldn’t be ignored quickly.