How to Detect the Default Branch in a git Repository

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Over the past few years, many engineering teams have switched their default git branch name from master to a different, potentially less offensive term. I'm all for choosing to name your default branch whatever you'd like, but not having a universal default branch name can complicate some automation.

So how can we detect the default branch name for a git repository? I use a few chained commands:

git remote show REMOTE_REPO_NAME | grep 'HEAD branch' | cut -d' ' -f5

Swap out REMOTE_REPO_NAME with the name of the remote/ upstream repository and you'll get the remote repository's default branch name!

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Discussion

  1. Djangounet

    Cool trick ! Except… it works only if your LANG is “en”…

    My attempt :

    git remote show origin | grep 'HEAD' | cut -d':' -f2 | sed -e 's/^ *//g' -e 's/ *$//g'
    

    Best regards

  2. WA

    This one should be language-neutral:

    git ls-remote --symref https://github.com/cli/cli HEAD | awk -F'[/\t]' 'NR == 1 {print $3}'
    
    

Wrap your code in <pre class="{language}"></pre> tags, link to a GitHub gist, JSFiddle fiddle, or CodePen pen to embed!