If you have an existing Git repository with multiple commits (history) in it, and you would like to replace all the history with just a single commit, here’s how to do it:
NOTE: only do this if you know what you’re doing. Rewriting history in Git is usually considered a bad-practice, especially if you are collaborating with other people.
1. Create a copy of your existing repository on the filesystem
Firstly, create a copy of your existing directory that contains your Git repository. For example, if your Git directory is in
/home/source, then create a copy of the folder and name it
cp -R /home/source /home/source_clean
2. Delete .git folder and reinitialize a clean git repository
Next you want to go inside the new copied folder, delete the local .git folder, and then re-initialize git so you get a clean repository.
cd /home/source_clean rm -rf .git git init
If successful, you should get the following output:
user@Ubuntu:/home/source_clean$ git init Initialized empty Git repository in /home/source_clean/.git/
3. Create a new initial commit
Now that we have a clean Git repository with all of our files, we need to create a new commit. We do this by staging all current files and then committing.
Note: depending on your Git configuration the default branch will be named “master”. If the remote branch that you want to overwrite has a different name (Github uses “main”), make sure to switch to this branch (via “git branch -m “main”) before creating the initial commit.
git add -A git commit -m "Initial commit"
4. Force push new master branch to remote/origin
Now we will force push the new (master) branch to our existing remote. Since our local branch only has 1 initial commit, when you do a normal push the remote Git server will normally reject this, since the history doesn’t match up. If you issue a “force push”, you ignore any errors and forcefully overwrite the target.
git remote add origin https://github.com/<your-username>/<your-repo>.git git push -f origin
This should give you the following output:
user@Ubuntu:/home/source_clean$ git push origin main -f Username for 'https://github.com': Password for 'https://<your-username>@github.com': Total 0 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0) To https://github.com/<your-username>/<your-repo>.git + 8826953...b713a41 main -> main (forced update)
Now your Git repository is overwritten at the remote and will only contain your single “initial commit”. Success!