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Comparing commits

In this article

You can compare the state of your repository across branches, tags, commits, and dates. To compare different versions of your repository, append /compare to your repository's path.

We'll demonstrate the power of Compare by looking at the compare page for a fork of the Linguist repo, which is at

Every repository's Compare view contains two drop down menus: base and compare.

base should be considered the starting point of your comparison, and compare is the endpoint. During a comparison, you can always change your base and compare points by clicking on Edit.

Comparing branches

The most common use of Compare is to compare branches, such as when you're starting a new pull request. You'll always be taken to the branch comparison view when starting a new pull request.

To compare branches, you can select a branch name from the compare drop down menu at the top of the page.

Here's an example of a comparison between two branches.

Comparing tags

Comparing release tags will show you changes to your repository since the last release.

Instead of typing a branch name, type the name of your tag in the compare drop down menu.

Here's an example of a comparison between two tags.

Comparing commits

You can also compare two arbitrary commits in your repository or its forks on GitHub in a two-dot diff comparison.

To quickly compare two commits or Git Object IDs (OIDs) directly with each other in a two-dot diff comparison on GitHub, edit the URL of your repository's "Comparing changes" page.

For example, this URL uses the shortened seven-character SHA codes to compare commits c3a414e and faf7c6f:

To learn more about other comparison options, see "Three-dot and two-dot diff comparisons."

Comparing across forks

You can compare your base repository and any forked repository. This is the view that's presented when a user performs a Pull Request to a project.

To compare branches on different repositories, preface the branch names with user names. For example, by specifying octocat:main for base and octo-org:main for compare, you can compare the main branch of the repositories respectively owned by octocat and octo-org.

Here's an example of a comparison between two repositories.

Comparisons across commits

As a shortcut, Git uses the ^ notation to mean "one commit prior."

You can use this notation to compare a single commit or branch against its immediate predecessors. For example, 96d29b7^^^^^ indicates five commits prior to 96d29b7, because there are five ^ marks. Typing 96d29b7^^^^^ in the base branch and 96d29b7 in the compare branch compares the five commits made before 96d29b7 with the 96d29b7 commit.

Here's an example of a comparison using the ^ notation.

Further reading