Why do I need to do `--set-upstream` all the time?


I create a new branch in Git:

git branch my_branch

Push it:

git push origin my_branch

Now say someone made some changes on the server and I want to pull from origin/my_branch. I do:

git pull

But I get:

You asked me to pull without telling me which branch you
want to merge with, and 'branch.my_branch.merge' in
your configuration file does not tell me, either. Please
specify which branch you want to use on the command line and
try again (e.g. 'git pull <repository> <refspec>').
See git-pull(1) for details.

If you often merge with the same branch, you may want to
use something like the following in your configuration file:

    [branch "my_branch"]
    remote = <nickname>
    merge = <remote-ref>

    [remote "<nickname>"]
    url = <url>
    fetch = <refspec>

See git-config(1) for details.

I learned that I can make it work with:

git branch --set-upstream my_branch origin/my_branch

But why do I need to do this for every branch I create? Isn't it obvious that if I push my_branch into origin/my_branch, then I would want to pull origin/my_branch into my_branch? How can I make this the default behavior?

6/14/2013 7:28:07 PM

Accepted Answer

A shortcut, which doesn't depend on remembering the syntax for git branch --set-upstream 1 is to do:

git push -u origin my_branch

... the first time that you push that branch. Or, to push to the current branch to a branch of the same name (handy for an alias):

git push -u origin HEAD

You only need to use -u once, and that sets up the association between your branch and the one at origin in the same way as git branch --set-upstream does.

Personally, I think it's a good thing to have to set up that association between your branch and one on the remote explicitly. It's just a shame that the rules are different for git push and git pull.

1 It may sound silly, but I very frequently forget to specify the current branch, assuming that's the default - it's not, and the results are most confusing :)

Update 2012-10-11: Apparently I'm not the only person who found it easy to get wrong! Thanks to VonC for pointing out that git 1.8.0 introduces the more obvious git branch --set-upstream-to, which can be used as follows, if you're on the branch my_branch:

git branch --set-upstream-to origin/my_branch

... or with the short option:

git branch -u origin/my_branch

This change, and its reasoning, is described in the release notes for git 1.8.0, release candidate 1:

It was tempting to say git branch --set-upstream origin/master, but that tells Git to arrange the local branch origin/master to integrate with the currently checked out branch, which is highly unlikely what the user meant. The option is deprecated; use the new --set-upstream-to (with a short-and-sweet -u) option instead.

9/2/2018 4:32:14 AM

You can simply

git checkout -b my-branch origin/whatever

in the first place. If you set branch.autosetupmerge or branch.autosetuprebase (my favorite) to always (default is true), my-branch will automatically track origin/whatever.

See git help config.


This is my most common use for The Fuck.

$ git push
fatal: The current branch master has no upstream branch.
To push the current branch and set the remote as upstream, use

    git push --set-upstream origin master

$ fuck
git push --set-upstream origin master [enter/↑/↓/ctrl+c]
Counting objects: 9, done.

Also, it's fun to type swear words in your terminal.


You can set upstream simpler in two ways. First when you create the branch:

git branch -u origin/my-branch

or after you have created a branch, you can use this command.

git push -u origin my-branch

You can also branch, check out and set upstream in a single command:

git checkout -b my-branch -t origin/my-branch

My personally preference is to do this in a two-step command:

git checkout -b my-branch
git push -u origin my-branch

You can use:

git config --global branch.autosetupmerge always

which will link the upstream branch each time you create or checkout a new branch.


This also works with branch.autosetuprebase, if you follow a more rebase focused workflow, but don't use this unless you know what you're doing, as it will default your pull behavior to rebase, which can cause odd results.


By the way, the shortcut to pushing the current branch to a remote with the same name:

$ git push -u origin HEAD

Licensed under: CC-BY-SA with attribution
Not affiliated with: Stack Overflow
Email: [email protected]