Recovering from a Git detached HEAD

Oct 13, 2022 · 1 min read · Post a comment

Simply put, a detached HEAD is a Git state that occurs only when you checkout a commit. See Checkout a specific Git commit. In a normal state, HEAD points to a branch name. Under the hood, it points to the latest commit of that branch also known as tip of the branch. Consider a detached state mostly for troubleshooting purposes, like finding a bug as being part of some commit.


  • Git


Step 1. Get in a detached HEAD state first.

git checkout <commit-SHA1>

Step 2. If you are in a detached state by a mistake, or you’ve been messing around and do not want to save any changes, just run:

git switch -

or, checkout whatever branch you want to go back to. For instance:

git checkout main

HEAD will point to whatever branch it was pointing to before getting into a detached state.

But, if you do want to save your changes, optionally stage and commit them before creating a new branch.

git switch -c <some_new_branch>


git checkout -b <some_new_branch>

Now, it’s up to you if you want to merge this new branch or copy the commit on top of another branch.


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