Git Initialization

Git converts an ordinary directory (folder) on our computer into a git repository, allowing you to save different versions of the directory’s contents as you make changes to that directory. Invoking the git init command within the top directory of your project starts this process:

$ git init 

The data describing these changes and how to switch to them is stored in a subdirectory the Git client creates in the top project directory named .git. This folder is normally hidden from the user on most operating systems, though you can reveal it by tweaking your OS settings. All the git commands modify the contents of that folder. This approach has one really great benefit - if you copy your project folder into a new location, your repository information goes with it!

If you’re curious about the structure of the .git folder, Pierre DeWulf has a good post discussing it on his blog. 1 Essentially, every time you commit (save your current changes), Git creates a new entry representing the state of your files at that point, including an identifying hash (to identify the commit), the previous (parent) commit’s hash, a comment describing the commit, the date and time of the commit, and the identity of the user making the commit. We can use this information to restore the project directory to any one of the commits we’ve made.

Warning

Because Git places all of its repository information in the .git folder, deleting it will make the directory no longer be a repository. All committed changes will be lost, and you will no longer be able to revert your project files to earlier versions.


  1. Pierre DeWulf, “Git series 1/3: Understanding git for real by exploring the .git directory”, daolf.com, Jan 1, 2019. ↩︎