git-cola man page

git-cola — The highly caffeinated Git GUI


git cola [options] [sub-command]


git cola is a sleek and powerful Git GUI.



Start git cola in amend mode.


Prompt for a Git repository. Defaults to the current directory.

-r, --repo <path>

Open the Git repository at <path>. Defaults to the current directory.

-s, --status-filter <filter>

Apply the path filter to the status widget.


Print the git cola version and exit.

-h, --help

Show usage and optional arguments.


Show available sub-commands.



Apply patches.


Export tarballs from Git.


Create branches.


Browse tracked files.


Configure settings.


Start the git dag Git history browser.


Diff changed files.


Fetch history from remote repositories.


Use git grep to search for content.


Merge branches.


Fetch and merge remote branches.


Push branches to remotes.


Start an interactive rebase.


Create and edit remotes.


Stash uncommitted modifications.


Create tags.


Print the git cola version.

Configure Your Editor

The editor used by Ctrl-e is configured from the Preferences screen. The environment variable $Visual is consulted when no editor has been configured.

ProTip: Configuring your editor to gvim -f -p will open multiple tabs when editing files. gvim -f -o uses splits.

git cola is {vim, emacs, textpad, notepad++}-aware. When you select a line in the grep screen and press any of Enter, Ctrl-e, or the Edit button, you are taken to that exact line.

The editor preference is saved in the gui.editor variable using git config.

Keyboard Shortcuts

git cola has many useful keyboard shortcuts.

You can see the available shortcuts by pressing the ? key, choosing Help -> Keyboard shortcuts from the main menu, or by consulting the git cola keyboard shortcuts reference.


The git cola interface is composed of various cooperating tools. Double-clicking a tool opens it in its own subwindow. Dragging it around moves and places it within the window.

Tools can be hidden and rearranged however you like. git cola carefully remembers your window layout and restores it the next time it is launched.

The Control-{1, 2, 3, ...} hotkey gives focus to a specific tool. A hidden tool can be re-opened using the Tools menu or the Shift+Control-{1, 2, 3, ...} shortcut keys.


The Status tool provides a visual analog to the git status command.

Status displays files that are modified relative to the staging area, staged for the next commit, unmerged files from an in-progress merge, and files that are untracked to git.

These are the same categories one sees when running git status on the command line.

You can navigate through the list of files using keyboard arrows as well as the ergonomical and vim-like j and k shortcut keys.

There are several convenient ways to interact with files in the Status tool.

Selecting a file displays its diff in the Diff viewer. Double-clicking a file stages its contents, as does the the Ctrl-s shortcut key.

Ctrl-e opens selected files in the conifgured editor, and Ctrl-d opens selected files using git difftool

Additional actions can be performed using the right-click context menu.


Clicking the Staged folder shows a diffstat for the index.

Clicking the Modified folder shows a diffstat for the worktree.

Clicking individual files sends diffs to the Diff Display.

Double-clicking individual files adds and removes their content from the index.

Various actions are available through the right-click context menu. Different actions are available depending a file's status.

Stage Selected

Add to the staging area using git add Marks unmerged files as resolved.

Launch Editor

Launches the configured visual text editor

Launch Difftool

Visualize changes using git difftool.

Revert Unstaged Edits

Reverts unstaged content by checking out selected paths from the index/staging area

Revert Uncommited Edits

Throws away uncommitted edits

Unstage Selected

Remove from the index/staging area with git reset

Launch Merge Tool

Resolve conflicts using git mergetool.

Delete File(s)

Delete untracked files from the filesystem.

Add to .gitignore

Adds untracked files to to the .gitignore file.


The diff viewer/editor displays diffs for selected files. Additions are shown in green and removals are displayed in light red. Extraneous whitespace is shown with a pure-red background.

Right-clicking in the diff provides access to additional actions that use either the cursor location or text selection.

Staging content for commit

The @@ patterns denote a new diff hunk. Selecting lines of diff and using the Stage Selected Lines command will stage just the selected lines. Clicking within a diff hunk and selecting Stage Diff Hunk stages the entire patch diff hunk.

The corresponding opposite commands can be performed on staged files as well, e.g. staged content can be selectively removed from the index when we are viewing diffs for staged content.

Commit Message Editor

The commit message editor is a simple text widget for entering commit messages.

You can navigate between the Subject and Extended description... fields using the keyboard arrow keys.

Pressing enter when inside the Subject field jumps down to the extended description field.

The Options button menu to the left of the subject field provides access to the additional actions.

The Ctrl+i keyboard shortcut adds a standard "Signed-off-by: " line, and Ctrl+Enter creates a new commit using the commit message and staged content.

Sign Off

The Sign Off button adds a standard:

Signed-off-by: A. U. Thor <a.u.thor@example.com>

line to the bottom of the commit message.

Invoking this action is equivalent to passing the -s option to git commit.


The commit button runs git commit. The contents of the commit message editor is provided as the commit message.

Only staged files are included in the commit -- this is the same behavior as running git commit on the command-line.

Line and Column Display

The current line and column number is displayed by the editor. E.g. a 5,0 display means that the cursor is located at line five, column zero.

The display changes colors when lines get too long. Yellow indicates the safe boundary for sending patches to a mailing list while keeping space for inline reply markers.

Orange indicates that the line is starting to run a bit long and should break soon.

Red indicates that the line is running up against the standard 80-column limit for commit messages.

Keeping commit messages less than 76-characters wide is encouraged. git log is a great tool but long lines mess up its formatting for everyone else, so please be mindful when writing commit messages.

Amend Last Commit

Clicking on Amend Last Commit makes git cola amend the previous commit instead of creating a new one. git cola loads the previous commit message into the commit message editor when this option is selected.

The Status tool will display all of the changes for the amended commit.

Create Signed Commit

Tell git commit and git merge to sign commits using GPG.

Using this option is equivalent to passing the --gpg-sign option to git commit and git merge.

This option's default value can be configured using the cola.signcommits configuration variable.

Apply Patches

Use the File -> Apply Patches menu item to begin applying patches.

Dragging and dropping patches onto the git cola interface adds the patches to the list of patches to apply using git am.

You can drag either a set of patches or a directory containing patches. Patches can be sorted using in the interface and are applied in the same order as is listed in the list.

When a directory is dropped git cola walks the directory tree in search of patches. git cola sorts the list of patches after they have all been found. This allows you to control the order in which patchs are applied by placing patchsets into alphanumerically-sorted directories.

Custom Window Settings

git cola remembers modifications to the layout and arrangement of tools within the git cola interface. Changes are saved and restored at application shutdown/startup.

git cola can be configured to not save custom layouts by unsetting the Save Window Settings option in the git cola preferences.

Configuration Variables

These variables can be set using git config or from the settings.


The command used to blame files. Defaults to git gui blame.


Whether to create a dock widget with the Browser tool. Defaults to false to speedup startup time.


Inspect unmerged files for conflict markers before staging them. This feature helps prevent accidental staging of unresolved merge conflicts. Defaults to true.


git cola, when run outside of a Git repository, prompts the user for a repository. Set cola.defaultrepo to the path of a Git repostiory to make git cola attempt to use that repository before falling back to prompting the user for a repository.


Enables per-file gitattributes encoding support when set to true. This tells git cola to honor the configured encoding when displaying and applying diffs.


Specifies the font to use for git cola's diff display.


Set to false to disable file system change monitoring. Defaults to true, but also requires either Linux with inotify support or Windows with pywin32 installed for file system change monitoring to actually function.


Set to true to automatically refresh when git cola gains focus. Defaults to false because this can cause a pause whenever switching to git cola from another application.


Whether to automatically break long lines while editing commit messages. Defaults to true. This setting is configured using the Preferences dialog, but it can be toggled for one-off usage using the commit message editor's options sub-menu.


git cola encodes paths dragged from its widgets into utf-16 when adding them to the drag-and-drop mime data (specifically, the text/x-moz-url entry). utf-16 is used to make gnome-terminal see the right paths, but other terminals may expect a different encoding. If you are using a terminal that expects a modern encoding, e.g. terminator, then set this value to utf-8.


git cola avoids reading large binary untracked files. The maximum size to read is controlled by cola.readsize and defaults to 2048.


git cola will remember its window settings when set to true. Window settings and X11 sessions are saved in $HOME/.config/git-cola.


git cola will sign commits by default when set true. Defaults to false. See the section below on setting up GPG for more details.


The number of columns occupied by a tab character. Defaults to 8.


The command to use when launching commands within a graphical terminal.

cola.terminal defaults to xterm -e when unset. e.g. when opening a shell, git cola will run xterm -e $SHELL.

If either gnome-terminal, xfce4-terminal, or konsole are installed then they will be preferred over xterm when cola.terminal is unset.


The number of columns used for line wrapping. Tabs are counted according to cola.tabwidth.


The default diff text color, in hexadecimal RRGGBB notation. Defaults to "030303".


The default diff "add" background color, in hexadecimal RRGGBB notation. Defaults to "d2ffe4".


The default diff "remove" background color, in hexadecimal RRGGBB notation. Defaults to "fee0e4".


The default diff header text color, in hexadecimal RRGGBB notation. Defaults to "bbbbbb".


The number of diff context lines to display.


git cola avoids showing untracked files when set to false.


The default text editor to use is defined in gui.editor. The config variable overrides the Visual environment variable. e.g. gvim -f -p.


The history browser to use when visualizing history. Defaults to gitk.


The default diff tool to use.


The default merge tool to use.


Your email address to be recorded in any newly created commits. Can be overridden by the 'GIT_AUTHOR_EMAIL', 'GIT_COMMITTER_EMAIL', and 'EMAIL' environment variables.


Your full name to be recorded in any newly created commits. Can be overridden by the 'GIT_AUTHOR_NAME' and 'GIT_COMMITTER_NAME' environment variables.

Environment Variables


git cola can be made to scale its interface for HiDPI displays. When defined, git cola will scale icons, radioboxes, and checkboxes according to the scale factor. The default value is 1. A good value is 2 for high-resolution displays.

Fonts are not scaled, as their size can already be set in the settings.


When defined, git cola logs git commands to stdout. When set to full, git cola also logs the exit status and output. When set to trace, git cola logs to the Console widget.


Specifies the default editor to use. This is ignored when the gui.editor configuration variable is defined.

Language Settings

git cola automatically detects your language and presents some translations when available. This may not be desired, or you may want git cola to use a specific language.

You can make git cola use an alternative language by creating a ~/.config/git-cola/language file containing the standard two-letter gettext language code, e.g. "en", "de", "ja", "zh", etc.:

mkdir -p ~/.config/git-cola &&
echo en >~/.config/git-cola/language

Alternatively you may also use LANGAUGE environmental variable to temporarily change git cola's language just like any other gettext-based program. For example to temporarily change git cola's language to English:

LANGUAGE=en git cola

To make git cola use the zh_TW translation with zh_HK, zh, and en as a fallback.:

LANGUAGE=zh_TW:zh_HK:zh:en git cola

Custom Gui Actions

git cola allows you to define custom GUI actions by setting git config variables. The "name" of the command appears in the "Actions" menu.


Specifies the shell command line to execute when the corresponding item of the Tools menu is invoked. This option is mandatory for every tool. The command is executed from the root of the working directory, and in the environment it receives the name of the tool as GIT_GUITOOL, the name of the currently selected file as FILENAME, and the name of the current branch as CUR_BRANCH (if the head is detached, CUR_BRANCH is empty).


Run the command in the background (similar to editing and difftool actions). This avoids blocking the GUI. Setting background to true implies noconsole and norescan.


Run the tool only if a diff is selected in the GUI. It guarantees that FILENAME is not empty.


Run the command silently, without creating a window to display its output.


Don’t rescan the working directory for changes after the tool finishes execution.


Show a confirmation dialog before actually running the tool.


Request a string argument from the user, and pass it to the tool through the ARGS environment variable. Since requesting an argument implies confirmation, the confirm option has no effect if this is enabled. If the option is set to true, yes, or 1, the dialog uses a built-in generic prompt; otherwise the exact value of the variable is used.


Request a single valid revision from the user, and set the REVISION environment variable. In other aspects this option is similar to argprompt, and can be used together with it.


Show only unmerged branches in the revprompt subdialog. This is useful for tools similar to merge or rebase, but not for things like checkout or reset.


Specifies the title to use for the prompt dialog. Defaults to the tool name.


Specifies the general prompt string to display at the top of the dialog, before subsections for argprompt and revprompt. The default value includes the actual command.


Specifies a keyboard shortcut for the custom tool.

The value must be a valid string understood by the QAction::setShortcut() API. See http://qt-project.org/doc/qt-4.8/qkeyse… for more details about the supported values.

Avoid creating shortcuts that conflict with existing built-in git cola shortcuts. Creating a conflict will result in no action when the shortcut is used.

Setting Up Gpg for Signed Commits

When creating signed commits gpg will attempt to read your password from the terminal from which git cola was launched. The way to make this work smoothly is to use a GPG agent so that you can avoid needing to re-enter your password every time you commit.

This also gets you a graphical passphrase prompt instead of getting prompted for your password in the terminal.

Install gpg-agent and friends

On Mac OS X, you may need to brew install gpg-agent and install the Mac GPG Suite.

On Linux use your package manager to install gnupg2, gnupg-agent and pinentry-qt, e.g.:

sudo apt-get install gnupg2 gnupg-agent pinentry-qt

On Linux, you should also configure Git so that it uses gpg2 (gnupg2), otherwise you will get errors mentioning, "unable to open /dev/tty". Set Git's gpg.program to gpg2:

git config --global gpg.program gpg2

Configure gpg-agent and a pin-entry program

On Mac OS X, edit ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf to include the line,:


This is typically not needed on Linux, where gpg2 is used, as this is the default value when using gpg2.

Next, edit ~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf to contain a pinentry-program line pointing to the pinentry program for your platform.

The following example ~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf shows how to use pinentry-qt on Linux:

pinentry-program /usr/bin/pinentry-qt
default-cache-ttl 3600

This following example .gnupg/gpg-agent.conf shows how to use MacGPG2's pinentry app on On Mac OS X:

pinentry-program /usr/local/MacGPG2/libexec/pinentry-mac.app/Contents/MacOS/pinentry-mac
default-cache-ttl 3600

Once this has been setup then you will need to start the gpg-agent daemon. First, check if it is already running.:

env | grep GPG_AGENT_INFO
echo bye | gpg-connect-agent

If you see the following output:

OK closing connection

Then the daemon is already running, and you do not need to start it yourself.

If it is not running, eval the output of gpg-agent --daemon in your shell prior to launching git cola.:

eval $(gpg-agent --daemon)
git cola

Windows Notes

Git Installation

If Git is installed in a custom location, e.g. not installed in C:/Git or Program Files, then the path to Git must be configured by creating a file in your home directory ~/.config/git-cola/git-bindir that points to your git installation. e.g.:



David Aguilar and contributors


git-cola 2.8 Aug 30, 2016