Cherry-picking and changing date of last commit in Git 

Version control (newbies: keeping the history of changes to a file or files) is funny. I have used Git for a while, and my colleagues currently find it funny that I prefer to use the command line (newbies: that black screen with all the text that looks super nerdy) as opposed to using an interface where you just click buttons and type in text fields. My method is deemed to be somewhat bad-ass and dangerous. I personally find it more comfortable and I feel less likely to break something by typing in commands.

One of my favourite commands is git cherry-pick. You can pretty much grab any committed changes and apply them to whatever you are doing right now. It’s a bit like looking at your life and going, ‘Yeah, those were some rad times!’ as you choose what to put in a movie of your life.

But let’s say for some reason you want all those rad times to happen on the same day.

I needed some changes from another branch so that I could work on top of those. (I don’t know why I didn’t think of branching off that branch, but whatever.) So I cherry-picked them, but realised, as we all hate – the commits appear as the most recent, but the timestamps have the original date.

This just won’t do!

I made a dummy commit, making a redundant change to a file just so I could make a commit message for today. Hopefully I could squash all my commits into the one.

If you run git log, it will give you a history of what has been committed already.

commit 938e1d
Date: Fri Jan 15

Adding styling for blockquote

commit 72fd8a
Date: Wed Jan 13

Refactoring card component

commit 1a8e31
Date: Wed Jan 13

Adding title to markup

commit cca242
Date: Tue Jan 12

Fixing browser inconsistency for input element

And if you want to combine all your commits into one bundle:

git rebase -i HEAD~1

HEAD~1 is the first commit that appears in git log. You want to update that number to the last commit you want to squash (or ‘bundle’). So if you cherry-picked four things, you will want to do git rebase -i HEAD~4. The example below has my dummy commit included, so is actually HEAD~5.

pick cca242 Fixing browser inconsistency for input element
pick 1a8e31 Adding title to markup
pick 72fd8a Refactoring card component
pick 938e1d Adding styling for blockquote
pick 666666 Dummy commit by Georgie

Notice how the commits are displayed in reverse order (newest at the bottom). We are now doing an interactive rebase. Don’t be scared – most people hear the word ‘rebase’ and freak out. We’re going to pick the first commit, and squash the rest into it.

pick cca242 Fixing browser inconsistency for input element
squash 1a8e31 Adding title to markup
squash 72fd8a Refactoring card component
squash 938e1d Adding styling for blockquote
squash 666666 Dummy commit by Georgie

Of course you cannot squash forwards in time… so I realised there was no way I was going to be able to squash everything forwards and into my dummy commit from today. 😞 So I worried about squashing them into one commit first. If you look above, you can see that I picked the first commit that appeared (which is HEAD~5 and therefore the earliest commit in time) I squashed them into the earliest commit in history, bundling them into one.

commit cca242
Date: Tue Jan 12

Fixing browser inconsistency for input element

My discovery (really the cherry on top – no pun intended 🍒) was that I was able to run a command to edit the date of the last commit message.

git commit --amend --reset-author

It is known to be a bit of a hack, and I would hope you hadn’t pushed any changes before running it. In my case, I was cherry-picking my own changes, so I was the original author of these commits anyway. When you run this command, the timestamp will change to the time you ran the command. Which is today.

commit cca242
Date: Mon Jan 18

Bring me my Delorean

Which means all my rad times really did happen on one day. 😎

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Comments on this post

Woo, that is great that you were able to work through it and make the changes. *high five* 😄

I think it’s pretty neat that you’re getting into the guts of Git 😆. Command line isn’t so bad until you have to scroll down a bunch of times to reach the bottom of the output unless you pipe it. Major props to you for sticking it through the command line method!

It’s interesting to see how the command lines put the commit info together. Moreso that you can change the date of the last commit with a simple command 😆. Thanks for sharing!~

I’ve never heard of this before, and it was quite fascinating to read through your post and understand what you’re putting together. I’m glad you’ve gotten the hack down! 😄 What OS system is this on?

Hey Tess! I use OS X, but you can use Git on most operating systems. Some even provide a GUI, but may restrict you from doing something like what I did (as I said, it is a bit risky depending on your workflow).