Deleting a Remote Git Branch

Another bit of git command line that a lot of people struggle to remember is the syntax to delete a remote branch. If you read my post from a couple of days ago, I mentioned a couple of things about deleting git branches. That’s how you delete them locally. If you want to push that deletion up to the remote repository as well, you need to take one additional step.

The command I use to delete remote branches is this:

git push origin :my-branch-name

It’s that “:” that tells it to delete the branch. Yes, it may seem confusing, but there is a reason for it. I’ll explain below for those who are interested in learning more.

Here is a slightly easier syntax, but I don’t like typing the additional characters.

git push origin --delete my-branch-name

Feel free to use this syntax, it’s newer, but you most likely have support for it. It’s been out for years now.

Here is the reason (other than its being shorter) that I like the first syntax better.

If you want to push our a git branch, you use this command:

git push origin my-branch-name

If you wanted it to have a different name remotely than it has locally, you would do this:

git push origin my-local-name:my-remote-name

Which means that if you wanted to push “nothing” over the remote branch with that name you would do this:

git push origin :my-remote-name

Notice how the command is pushing empty over that branch, which is then interpreted as a “delete” by git. That’s how I make sense of it, plus this is a neat little bit of info about the command.

I hope this helps people adopt and use git more easily. If you’re new to git or GitHub, I recommend that you check out my Pluralsight course, GitHub for Windows Developers. The course takes an easy-to-follow approach to getting you set up using Git, GitHub, and GitHub for Windows.