GIT-SYMBOLIC-REF(1) Git Manual GIT-SYMBOLIC-REF(1)
git-symbolic-ref - Read, modify and delete symbolic refs
git symbolic-ref [-m <reason>] <name> <ref> git symbolic-ref [-q] [--short] <name> git symbolic-ref --delete [-q] <name>
Given one argument, reads which branch head the given symbolic ref refers to and outputs its path, relative to the .git/ directory. Typically you would give HEAD as the <name> argument to see which branch your working tree is on. Given two arguments, creates or updates a symbolic ref <name> to point at the given branch <ref>. Given --delete and an additional argument, deletes the given symbolic ref. A symbolic ref is a regular file that stores a string that begins with ref: refs/. For example, your .git/HEAD is a regular file whose contents is ref: refs/heads/master.
-d, --delete Delete the symbolic ref <name>. -q, --quiet Do not issue an error message if the <name> is not a symbolic ref but a detached HEAD; instead exit with non-zero status silently. --short When showing the value of <name> as a symbolic ref, try to shorten the value, e.g. from refs/heads/master to master. -m Update the reflog for <name> with <reason>. This is valid only when creating or updating a symbolic ref.
In the past, .git/HEAD was a symbolic link pointing at refs/heads/master. When we wanted to switch to another branch, we did ln -sf refs/heads/newbranch .git/HEAD, and when we wanted to find out which branch we are on, we did readlink .git/HEAD. But symbolic links are not entirely portable, so they are now deprecated and symbolic refs (as described above) are used by default. git symbolic-ref will exit with status 0 if the contents of the symbolic ref were printed correctly, with status 1 if the requested name is not a symbolic ref, or 128 if another error occurs.
Part of the git(1) suite
This page is part of the git (Git distributed version control system) project. Information about the project can be found at ⟨http://git-scm.com/⟩. If you have a bug report for this manual page, see ⟨http://git-scm.com/community⟩. This page was obtained from the project's upstream Git repository ⟨https://github.com/git/git.git⟩ on 2021-08-27. (At that time, the date of the most recent commit that was found in the repository was 2021-08-24.) If you discover any rendering problems in this HTML version of the page, or you believe there is a better or more up-to-date source for the page, or you have corrections or improvements to the information in this COLOPHON (which is not part of the original manual page), send a mail to email@example.com Git 18.104.22.168.gc420321 08/27/2021 GIT-SYMBOLIC-REF(1)
Pages that refer to this page: git(1), gitglossary(7)