Gitignore File: How to Exclude Files and Directories in Git

Estimated read time 3 min read

Introduction to the .gitignore File

When working with Git, you often come across files or directories that you don’t want to track or include in your repository. These can be temporary files, build artifacts, or sensitive information that you want to keep out of version control. The .gitignore file comes to the rescue in such situations. In this article, we will explore what a .gitignore file is, how it works, and how you can use it to exclude specific files and directories from being tracked by Git.

Understanding the .gitignore File

What is a .gitignore File?

A .gitignore file is a text file that specifies patterns of files and directories that Git should ignore. When Git encounters a file or directory matching a pattern specified in the .gitignore file, it automatically excludes it from being tracked or staged for commit. This ensures that the specified files and directories are not included in the version control system.

Creating a .gitignore File

To create a .gitignore file, simply create a new text file named “.gitignore” (without the quotes) in the root directory of your Git repository. You can use any text editor to create and edit the file.

Syntax and Rules of .gitignore

The .gitignore file uses simple pattern matching rules to specify which files and directories should be ignored. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Each line in the .gitignore file represents a pattern.
  2. Blank lines and lines starting with a hash symbol (#) are treated as comments and are ignored by Git.
  3. You can use wildcards and glob patterns to match multiple files or directories. For example, using “.txt” will match all text files, and using “folder/” will match all files in the “folder” directory.
  4. Prefixing a pattern with an exclamation mark (!) negates the pattern, instructing Git to include the specified file or directory even if it matches a previous pattern.

Common Usage Scenarios

Ignoring Specific Files or File Types

One common use case of the .gitignore file is to exclude specific files or file types from being tracked. For example, you may want to ignore log files, temporary files, or compiled binaries. To achieve this, simply add the file or pattern to the .gitignore file. For example:


Ignoring Entire Directories

In addition to ignoring specific files, you can also exclude entire directories from being tracked. This is useful when you have directories that contain generated or user-specific content that should not be included in the repository. To ignore a directory, simply specify its name in the .gitignore file. For example:


H3: Ignoring Files in Nested Directories

Sometimes, you may want to ignore files only in specific directories, while still tracking files with the same name in other directories. In such cases, you can use relative paths in your .gitignore file to specify the files to be ignored. For example:


Tips and Best Practices

Keep the .gitignore File Up-to-Date

As your project evolves, new files and directories may be created that need to be ignored. It is important to keep your .gitignore file up-to-date by regularly reviewing and updating it.

Angelika Card

Hi all, my name is Angelika and I am one of the authors of the EasyTechh website. Like the rest of our team I am incredibly ambitious and I love helping people.
That's why I write here and not only here ;-) I write interesting and useful for people articles in the IT sphere and a little bit about life.
Enjoy reading.

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