Sort git Branches by Date

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I'll be first person to admit I don't do as much git repository maintenance as I should.  I rarely delete branches which have been merged, so a git branch execution shows me a mile-long list of branches that likely aren't relevant.  The best way to find branches I've recently used is to use the following command:

git for-each-ref --sort=-committerdate refs/heads/

The command above lists the most recently worked on branches from top to bottom.  If you want to see the date of last commit, you can do this:

git for-each-ref --sort='-committerdate' --format='%(refname)%09%(committerdate)' refs/heads | sed -e 's-refs/heads/--'

I find these commands incredibly helpful when returning to work from a weekend or just jumping from project to project.  Hopefully you can use these commands too!

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Discussion

  1. I use this version to show latest git branches with the timestamp as a relative/human readable format:

    git for-each-ref --sort='-authordate:iso8601' --format=' %(authordate:relative)%09%(refname:short)' refs/heads
    • Eoghan

      Hey man, I used your snippet and noticed after a while that it actually gets the timing wrong. For example a branch I created today is showing as being worked on 2 weeks ago

  2. I’m definitely going to bookmark this as I’m using git more and more in team settings where we will probably be branching a lot more. This will come in handy.

  3. Glenn

    Super-helpful even three years on — thank you!

    FWIW, I found it much easier to read by putting the date first, as in Amy’s example. That also allows for reverse sorting if desired.

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