Git and GitHub Essentials - #2 Browsing the History

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Section 1.1: "Regular" Git Log

git log

will display all your commits with the author and hash. This will be shown over multiple lines per commit.If you wish to show a single line per commit, add --oneline

If you wish to limit your command to last n commits log you can simply pass a parameter. For example, if you wish to list last 3 commits logs

git log -3

Section 1.2: Prettier log

To see the log in a prettier graph-like structure use:

git log --decorate --oneline --graph

Since it's a pretty big command, you can assign an alias:

git config --global alias.p-log "log --decorate --oneline --graph"

To use the alias version:

# history of current branch :
git p-log

# combined history of active branch (HEAD), develop and origin/master branches :
git p-log HEAD develop origin/master

# combined history of everything in your repo :
git p-log --all

Section 1.3: Log search

git log -S"Hello World"

Searches for addition or removal of specific string or the string matching provided REGEXP. In this case we're looking for addition/removal of the string Hello World

git log -G"Hello World"

Searches for changes in lines containing specific string or the string matching provided REGEXP.

Section 1.3: List all contributions grouped by author name

git shortlog summarizes git log and groups by author

git shortlog

Committer 1 (<number_of_commits>):
 Commit Message 1
 Commit Message 2

Committer 2 (<number_of_commits>):
 Commit Message 1
 Commit Message 2

If no parameters are given, a list of all commits made per committer will be shown in chronological order.

To simply see the number of commits and suppress the commit description, pass in the summary option:

git shortlog -s

<number_of_commits> Committer 1
<number_of_commits> Committer 2

To sort the output by number of commits instead of alphabetically by committer name, pass in the numbered option:


To add the email of a committer, add the email option:


Section 1.4: Searching commit string in git log

Searching git log using some string in log:

git log [options] --grep "search_string"


git log --all --grep "removed file"

Will search for removed file string in all logs in all branches.


git log --grep "add file" --invert-grep

Will show all commits that do not contain add file.

Section 1.5: Filter logs

git log --after '3 days ago'

Specific dates work too:

git log --after 2016-05-01

You can also use --before

You can also filter logs by author. e.g.

git log --author=author

Section 1.6: Log showing commited files

git log --stat

This Will show all the modifications,insertions ,changed files ,etc.

Section 1.7: Show the contents of a single commit

Using git show we can view a single commit

git show 48c83b3

git show 48c83b3690dfc7b0e622fd220f8f37c26a77c934
Catalin Pit's photo

I was only aware of git log, but I didn't use it. Super informative and useful article! 😇

Envoy_'s photo

Thank you

Bhargav Ponnapalli's photo

Good one Vedant Chainani!