What is the best (and safest) way to merge a Git branch into master?


A new branch from master is created, we call it test.

There are several developers who either commit to master or create other branches and later merge into master.

Let's say work on test is taking several days and you want to continuously keep test updated with commits inside master.

I would do git pull origin master from test.

Question 1: Is this the right approach? Other developers could have easily worked on same files as I have worked btw.

My work on test is done and I am ready to merge it back to master. Here are the two ways I can think of:


git checkout test
git pull origin master
git push origin test
git checkout master
git pull origin test 


git checkout test
git pull origin master
git checkout master
git merge test

I am not using --rebase because from my understanding, rebase will get the changes from master and stack mine on top of that hence it could overwrite changes other people made.

Question 2: Which one of these two methods is right? What is the difference there?

The goal in all of this is to keep my test branch updated with the things happening in master and later I could merge them back into master hoping to keep the timeline as linear as possible.

1/28/2019 7:21:59 PM

Accepted Answer

How I would do this

git checkout master
git pull origin master
git merge test
git push origin master

If I have a local branch from a remote one, I don't feel comfortable with merging other branches than this one with the remote. Also I would not push my changes, until I'm happy with what I want to push and also I wouldn't push things at all, that are only for me and my local repository. In your description it seems, that test is only for you? So no reason to publish it.

git always tries to respect yours and others changes, and so will --rebase. I don't think I can explain it appropriately, so have a look at the Git book - Rebasing or git-ready: Intro into rebasing for a little description. It's a quite cool feature

6/15/2016 12:02:20 AM

This is a very practical question, but all the answers above are not practical.


git checkout master
git pull origin master
git merge test
git push origin master

This approach has two issues:

  1. It's unsafe, because we don't know if there are any conflicts between test branch and master branch.

  2. It would "squeeze" all test commits into one merge commit on master; that is to say on master branch, we can't see the all change logs of test branch.

So, when we suspect there would some conflicts, we can have following git operations:

git checkout test
git pull 
git checkout master
git pull
git merge --no-ff --no-commit test

Test merge before commit, avoid a fast-forward commit by --no-ff,

If conflict is encountered, we can run git status to check details about the conflicts and try to solve

git status

Once we solve the conflicts, or if there is no conflict, we commit and push them

git commit -m 'merge test branch'
git push

But this way will lose the changes history logged in test branch, and it would make master branch to be hard for other developers to understand the history of the project.

So the best method is we have to use rebase instead of merge (suppose, when in this time, we have solved the branch conflicts).

Following is one simple sample, for advanced operations, please refer to

git checkout master
git pull
git checkout test
git pull
git rebase -i master
git checkout master
git merge test

Yep, when you have uppers done, all the Test branch's commits will be moved onto the head of Master branch. The major benefit of rebasing is that you get a linear and much cleaner project history.

The only thing you need to avoid is: never use rebase on public branch, like master branch.

Never do operations like the following:

git checkout master
git rebase -i test

Details for



Neither a rebase nor a merge should overwrite anyone's changes (unless you choose to do so when resolving a conflict).

The usual approach while developing is

git checkout master
git pull
git checkout test
git log master.. # if you're curious
git merge origin/test # to update your local test from the fetch in the pull earlier

When you're ready to merge back into master,

git checkout master
git log ..test # if you're curious
git merge test
git push

If you're worried about breaking something on the merge, git merge --abort is there for you.

Using push and then pull as a means of merging is silly. I'm also not sure why you're pushing test to origin.


I would first make the to-be-merged branch as clean as possible. Run your tests, make sure the state is as you want it. Clean up the new commits by git squash.

Besides KingCrunches answer, I suggest to use

git checkout master
git pull origin master
git merge --squash test
git commit
git push origin master

You might have made many commits in the other branch, which should only be one commit in the master branch. To keep the commit history as clean as possible, you might want to squash all your commits from the test branch into one commit in the master branch (see also: Git: To squash or not to squash?). Then you can also rewrite the commit message to something very expressive. Something that is easy to read and understand, without digging into the code.

edit: You might be interested in

So on GitHub, I end up doing the following for a feature branch mybranch:

Get the latest from origin

$ git checkout master
$ git pull origin master

Find the merge base hash:

$ git merge-base mybranch master

$ git checkout mybranch
$ git rebase -i c193ea5e11f5699ae1f58b5b7029d1097395196f

Now make sure only the first is pick, the rest is s:

pick 00f1e76 Add first draft of the Pflichtenheft
s d1c84b6 Update to two class problem
s 7486cd8 Explain steps better

Next choose a very good commit message and push to GitHub. Make the pull request then.

After the merge of the pull request, you can delete it locally:

$ git branch -d mybranch

and on GitHub

$ git push origin :mybranch

Old thread, but I haven't found my way of doing it. It might be valuable for someone who works with rebase and wants to merge all the commits from a (feature) branch on top of master. If there is a conflict on the way, you can resolve them for every commit. You keep full control during the process and can abort any time.

Get Master and Branch up-to-date:

git checkout master
git pull --rebase origin master
git checkout <branch_name>
git pull --rebase origin <branch_name>

Merge Branch on top of Master:

git checkout <branch_name>
git rebase master

Optional: If you run into Conflicts during the Rebase:

First, resolve conflict in file. Then:

git add .
git rebase --continue

Push your rebased Branch:

git push origin <branch_name>

Now you've got two options:

  • A) Create a PR (e.g. on GitHub) and merge it there via the UI
  • B) Go back on the command line and merge the branch into master
git checkout master
git merge --no-ff <branch_name>
git push origin master



This is the workflow that I use at my job with the team. The scenario is as you described. First, when I'm done working on test I rebase with master to pull in whatever has been added to master during the time I've been working on the test branch.

git pull -r upstream master

This will pull the changes to master since you forked the test branch and apply them, and then apply the changes you've made to test "on top of" the current state of master. There may be conflicts here, if the other people have made changes to the same files that you've edited in test. If there are, you will have to fix them manually, and commit. Once you've done that, you'll be good to switch to the master branch and merge test in with no problems.