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retrieve files from a specific commit

Can I retrieve / download files from a specific commit?

I don't want to set the commit in question as current version.

If I select all the files I want, the only option on right-click is "Open Current Version".

If I select one file - which would be a pain - I have "Open Selected Version" on right-click - but nothing happens.

2 answers

There is a clean and easy way to do this in Sourcetree without checking out:

  1. Select the commit
  2. Select one or more files in the commit, right-click them, and select "Log Selected". This opens a new window.
  3. Right-click the selected commit and select "Reset Files to This Commit".


Why would you deny to checkout the commit as current version?

That's one of the main purposes of a VCS: Switch the version simply and fast ....

Just as a recipe for simple getting the desired version of your files:

  • Put all the currently uncommited changes of your current version to the stash via git stash....
  • Checkout the desired version
  • Copy the desired files to a save palce
  • Checkout the HEAD again
  • Re-apply your stash
  • .... and you are done ...

Thanks for (an extremely) quick reply..

Perhaps I am misunderstanding, but this particular version is not the current version, and would not work, and if any other user would "pull" he would get an obsolete version.

I am tracing changes for some historic documentation - so I don't want to see this in the history or trouble other users.

Just moved to Git from SubVersion, there I could, using Tortoise, easily select a specific commit and download.. is this really not possible?

Using SourceTree, not command line..

I don't understand your question ...


Maybe you have not fully understood the concepts of a distributed VCS or you choose a wrong/misleading wording: @Valgardur Gudjonsson wrote: "easily select a specific commit and download.".  

  • I don't get it here: with git you pull an ENTIRE repository (including its complete history) from a remote machine (that's what I personally would consider as "download" - unless I would prefer the exact term "pull"). After pulling you have the complete repository on your local machine: most of the actions you perform, work with your LOCAL repository.
  • git does not work with single files - but rather with "snapshots": a snapshot represents the state of ALL files within the repository at a certain point of time. Checking in a file creates a new commit and therefore a new snapshot - representing the state of ALL the files at this moment. Unless you might have committed a single file, the commit nevertheless describes the state of all files at this moment. Checking out a commit "reconstructs" the snapshot at the time of the commit.

So the way to go is:

  •  Pull a remote repository ("Download" a remote repository to your local machine including the COMPLETE history of the entire repository)
  •  Check out a desired Commit (i.e. retrieves a "snapshot", reconstructing the source code situation at the time of the commit)

So you don't "download a commit of a single file": 1.) pull gets ("downloads") the complete repository, 2.) checking out a commit reconstructs the file constellation/versions of all files at the time of the commit.

I tried to describe the following in my answer:

  • Checkout the desired version - that means: Checkout the commit, which contains your file in your desired version
  • Having this, you have your desired file in your sandbox -> Copy the desired files to a safe place
  • Checkout the HEAD again - that means: Checkout the most recent commit, i.e the latest version. Your desired file is still available at your safe place...

Thanks for a detailed reply, but I guess I did not explain my problem well enough or perhaps I used misleading words..

I do understand how git works, this was just an apparent bug in SourceTree, and perhaps a feature request/suggestion as well.

I installed a different tool (instead of SourceTree) and my problem was solved.

Anyway, thanks for your reply. 

.. or perhaps I didn't get your question correctly ...

Anyway: your problem is solved!



@Valgardur Gudjo   : Can you please advise how you solved this problem. I reckon I have the same issue.  Thank you.

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