Topics ▾ Version 2.13.1 ▾ git-for-each-ref last updated in 2.13.1


git-for-each-ref - Output information on each ref


git for-each-ref [--count=<count>] [--shell|--perl|--python|--tcl]
		   [(--sort=<key>)…​] [--format=<format>] [<pattern>…​]
		   [--points-at <object>] [(--merged | --no-merged) [<object>]]
		   [--contains [<object>]] [--no-contains [<object>]]


Iterate over all refs that match <pattern> and show them according to the given <format>, after sorting them according to the given set of <key>. If <count> is given, stop after showing that many refs. The interpolated values in <format> can optionally be quoted as string literals in the specified host language allowing their direct evaluation in that language.



By default the command shows all refs that match <pattern>. This option makes it stop after showing that many refs.


A field name to sort on. Prefix - to sort in descending order of the value. When unspecified, refname is used. You may use the --sort=<key> option multiple times, in which case the last key becomes the primary key.


A string that interpolates %(fieldname) from the object pointed at by a ref being shown. If fieldname is prefixed with an asterisk (*) and the ref points at a tag object, the value for the field in the object tag refers is used. When unspecified, defaults to %(objectname) SPC %(objecttype) TAB %(refname). It also interpolates %% to %, and %xx where xx are hex digits interpolates to character with hex code xx; for example %00 interpolates to \0 (NUL), %09 to \t (TAB) and %0a to \n (LF).


If one or more patterns are given, only refs are shown that match against at least one pattern, either using fnmatch(3) or literally, in the latter case matching completely or from the beginning up to a slash.


If given, strings that substitute %(fieldname) placeholders are quoted as string literals suitable for the specified host language. This is meant to produce a scriptlet that can directly be `eval`ed.

--points-at <object>

Only list refs which points at the given object.

--merged [<object>]

Only list refs whose tips are reachable from the specified commit (HEAD if not specified), incompatible with --no-merged.

--no-merged [<object>]

Only list refs whose tips are not reachable from the specified commit (HEAD if not specified), incompatible with --merged.

--contains [<object>]

Only list refs which contain the specified commit (HEAD if not specified).

--no-contains [<object>]

Only list refs which don’t contain the specified commit (HEAD if not specified).


Sorting and filtering refs are case insensitive.


Various values from structured fields in referenced objects can be used to interpolate into the resulting output, or as sort keys.

For all objects, the following names can be used:


The name of the ref (the part after $GIT_DIR/). For a non-ambiguous short name of the ref append :short. The option core.warnAmbiguousRefs is used to select the strict abbreviation mode. If lstrip=<N> (rstrip=<N>) is appended, strips <N> slash-separated path components from the front (back) of the refname (e.g. %(refname:lstrip=2) turns refs/tags/foo into foo and %(refname:rstrip=2) turns refs/tags/foo into refs). If <N> is a negative number, strip as many path components as necessary from the specified end to leave -<N> path components (e.g. %(refname:lstrip=-2) turns refs/tags/foo into tags/foo and %(refname:rstrip=-1) turns refs/tags/foo into refs). When the ref does not have enough components, the result becomes an empty string if stripping with positive <N>, or it becomes the full refname if stripping with negative <N>. Neither is an error.

strip can be used as a synomym to lstrip.


The type of the object (blob, tree, commit, tag).


The size of the object (the same as git cat-file -s reports).


The object name (aka SHA-1). For a non-ambiguous abbreviation of the object name append :short. For an abbreviation of the object name with desired length append :short=<length>, where the minimum length is MINIMUM_ABBREV. The length may be exceeded to ensure unique object names.


The name of a local ref which can be considered “upstream” from the displayed ref. Respects :short, :lstrip and :rstrip in the same way as refname above. Additionally respects :track to show "[ahead N, behind M]" and :trackshort to show the terse version: ">" (ahead), "<" (behind), "<>" (ahead and behind), or "=" (in sync). :track also prints "[gone]" whenever unknown upstream ref is encountered. Append :track,nobracket to show tracking information without brackets (i.e "ahead N, behind M"). Has no effect if the ref does not have tracking information associated with it. All the options apart from nobracket are mutually exclusive, but if used together the last option is selected.


The name of a local ref which represents the @{push} location for the displayed ref. Respects :short, :lstrip, :rstrip, :track, and :trackshort options as upstream does. Produces an empty string if no @{push} ref is configured.


* if HEAD matches current ref (the checked out branch), ' ' otherwise.


Change output color. Followed by :<colorname>, where names are described in color.branch.*.


Left-, middle-, or right-align the content between %(align:…​) and %(end). The "align:" is followed by width=<width> and position=<position> in any order separated by a comma, where the <position> is either left, right or middle, default being left and <width> is the total length of the content with alignment. For brevity, the "width=" and/or "position=" prefixes may be omitted, and bare <width> and <position> used instead. For instance, %(align:<width>,<position>). If the contents length is more than the width then no alignment is performed. If used with --quote everything in between %(align:…​) and %(end) is quoted, but if nested then only the topmost level performs quoting.


Used as %(if)…​%(then)…​%(end) or %(if)…​%(then)…​%(else)…​%(end). If there is an atom with value or string literal after the %(if) then everything after the %(then) is printed, else if the %(else) atom is used, then everything after %(else) is printed. We ignore space when evaluating the string before %(then), this is useful when we use the %(HEAD) atom which prints either "*" or " " and we want to apply the if condition only on the HEAD ref. Append ":equals=<string>" or ":notequals=<string>" to compare the value between the %(if:…​) and %(then) atoms with the given string.


The ref which the given symbolic ref refers to. If not a symbolic ref, nothing is printed. Respects the :short, :lstrip and :rstrip options in the same way as refname above.

In addition to the above, for commit and tag objects, the header field names (tree, parent, object, type, and tag) can be used to specify the value in the header field.

For commit and tag objects, the special creatordate and creator fields will correspond to the appropriate date or name-email-date tuple from the committer or tagger fields depending on the object type. These are intended for working on a mix of annotated and lightweight tags.

Fields that have name-email-date tuple as its value (author, committer, and tagger) can be suffixed with name, email, and date to extract the named component.

The complete message in a commit and tag object is contents. Its first line is contents:subject, where subject is the concatenation of all lines of the commit message up to the first blank line. The next line is contents:body, where body is all of the lines after the first blank line. The optional GPG signature is contents:signature. The first N lines of the message is obtained using contents:lines=N. Additionally, the trailers as interpreted by git-interpret-trailers[1] are obtained as contents:trailers.

For sorting purposes, fields with numeric values sort in numeric order (objectsize, authordate, committerdate, creatordate, taggerdate). All other fields are used to sort in their byte-value order.

There is also an option to sort by versions, this can be done by using the fieldname version:refname or its alias v:refname.

In any case, a field name that refers to a field inapplicable to the object referred by the ref does not cause an error. It returns an empty string instead.

As a special case for the date-type fields, you may specify a format for the date by adding : followed by date format name (see the values the --date option to git-rev-list[1] takes).

Some atoms like %(align) and %(if) always require a matching %(end). We call them "opening atoms" and sometimes denote them as %($open).

When a scripting language specific quoting is in effect, everything between a top-level opening atom and its matching %(end) is evaluated according to the semantics of the opening atom and only its result from the top-level is quoted.


An example directly producing formatted text. Show the most recent 3 tagged commits:


git for-each-ref --count=3 --sort='-*authordate' \
--format='From: %(*authorname) %(*authoremail)
Subject: %(*subject)
Date: %(*authordate)
Ref: %(*refname)

' 'refs/tags'

A simple example showing the use of shell eval on the output, demonstrating the use of --shell. List the prefixes of all heads:


git for-each-ref --shell --format="ref=%(refname)" refs/heads | \
while read entry
	eval "$entry"
	echo `dirname $ref`

A bit more elaborate report on tags, demonstrating that the format may be an entire script:




	if test "z$t" = z
		# could be a lightweight tag
		kind="Lightweight tag"
	echo "$kind $T points at a $t object $o"
	if test "z$t" = zcommit
		echo "The commit was authored by $n $e
at $d, and titled


Its message reads as:
		echo "$b" | sed -e "s/^/    /"

eval=`git for-each-ref --shell --format="$fmt" \
	--sort='*objecttype' \
	--sort=-taggerdate \
eval "$eval"

An example to show the usage of %(if)…​%(then)…​%(else)…​%(end). This prefixes the current branch with a star.

git for-each-ref --format="%(if)%(HEAD)%(then)* %(else)  %(end)%(refname:short)" refs/heads/

An example to show the usage of %(if)…​%(then)…​%(end). This prints the authorname, if present.

git for-each-ref --format="%(refname)%(if)%(authorname)%(then) Authored by: %(authorname)%(end)"



Part of the git[1] suite