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How to Remove Local Untracked Files From Current Git Working Tree?

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  • Last Updated : 28 Feb, 2022
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Git is the most common version control system, which stores the changes made to our project over time in a specific database called a repository. We can keep track of the changes made to our project, and revert back to an earlier stage if anything is messed up. In this tutorial, let’s have a look at how untracked files are removed from the current git working tree.

Steps to Setup a Basic Project

Step 1: Create a folder named git

mkdir git

Step 2: Switch to the git folder and create a folder named files

cd git
mkdir files

Step 3: Create three files named tracked.txt, untracked.txt, and .gitignore in the git folder

touch tracked.txt untracked.txt .gitignore

Step 4: Create two files in the files folder names file1.txt and file2.txt

cd files
touch file1.txt file2.txt

Step 5: Create a .env file

touch .env

Step 6: Initialize an empty git repository using the following command

git init

Step 7: Add .env to the .gitignore file

Step 8: Add the tracked.txt and .gitignore files to the staging area using the following command

git add tracked.txt .gitignore

Let’s go through each of the interactive commands one by one:

  1. clean: Removes the untracked files and directories and quits.
  2. filter by pattern: Lists all the files and directories that are going to be removed and asks the user for an input prompt in the form of a pattern to exclude files and directories from removal.
  3. select by numbers: Lists all the files and directories that are going to be removed and asks the user for an input prompt in the form of numbers that indicate the file number to be excluded. The number can be comma-separated or separated by white space. Example: 5,8,9 or 5-9 or 5 8 9.
  4. ask each: Allows the user to confirm each file that is going to be removed. Not as efficient as the above methods.
  5. quit: Quits the interactive mode without cleaning.

Project Structure

The project structure will be similar to the below image.

Project Structure

Now that the basic project structure is set up, let’s understand how untracked files are removed. Untracked files are those files that are absent from the latest snapshot of the git repository. We can remove untracked files from the current git working tree using the following command

git clean

No untracked files can be removed by running the git clean command without any flag. By running the git clean command without any flags, a fatal error is generated and explicitly asks us to mention a flag

git clean without flags

List out the Files to be removed

To have a look at all the untracked files that will be removed, we can use the git clean command with the -n flag. This lists out all the files that are going to be removed using the git clean command.

git clean -n

By running the command in our repository we get:

git clean with -n flag

List out the Files and Directories to be removed

To have a look at all the untracked files and untracked directories that will be removed, we can use the git clean command with the -n and -d flag. This lists out all the files and directories that are going to be removed using the git clean command.

git clean -n -d

By running the command in our repository we get:

git clean with -n and -d flags

Remove the unstaged files

To remove the unstaged files, we have to use the git clean command with the -f flag.

git clean -f

By running the command in our repository we get:

git clean with -f flag

Remove the unstaged files and the unstaged directories

To remove the unstaged files and the unstaged directories, we have to use the git clean command with the -f and -d flags.

git clean -f -d

By running the command in our repository we get:

git clean with -f and -d flags

Remove the ignored files

To remove the untracked files and the files ignored by git, we have to use the git clean command with the -f flag and -x flag

git clean -f -x

By running the command in our repository we get:

git clean with -f and -x flag

Remove all untracked files, directories, and ignored files

To remove all the untracked files, untracked directories, and ignored files, we have to use the git clean command with the -fdx flag

git clean -fdx

By running the command in our repository we get:

Entering the interactive mode

To enter an interactive git clean mode, we need to use the git command flag with the -i flag

git clean -i

By running the command in our repository we get:

git clean interactive mode

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