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On my linux machine I have autocomplete for branches with git.

For example I can type git checkout [TAB] and get a list of branches.

Or I can type git checkout feb* [TAB] to get all branches that begin with "feb".

How can I get this functionality on a Mac?

I tried downloading and running bash-completion/bash_completion and bash-completion/bash_completion.sh.in but no joy. The first gave error messages about declare: -A invalid_option. The second gave no errors. When I git checkout [TAB] though I am still getting a list of files in the directory, not branches. I am in the project root.

Auto-complete for directories and bash commands are working ok, so it's specific to git.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 100 down vote accepted

ok, so I needed the git autocompletion script.

I got that from this url:

curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/git/git/master/contrib/completion/git-completion.bash -o ~/.git-completion.bash

No need to worry about what directory you're in when you run this as your home directory(~) is used with the target.

Then I added to my ~/.bash_profile file the following 'execute if it exists' code:

if [ -f ~/.git-completion.bash ]; then
  . ~/.git-completion.bash

Update: I'm making these bits of code more concise to shrink down my .bashrc file, in this case I now use:

test -f ~/.git-completion.bash && . $_

Note: $_ means the last argument to the previous command. so . $_ means run it - "it" being .git-completion.bash in this case

This still works on both Ubuntu and OSX and on machines without the script .git-completion.bash script.

Now git Tab (actually it's git TabTab ) works like a charm!

(PS: If this doesn't work off the bat, you may need to run chmod -X ~/.git-completion.bash to give the script permission to run.)

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Works like a charm!! :) :D thnx –  mayankcpdixit Sep 7 '14 at 7:16
The laconic version of the bash profile didn't work for me on Yosemite (full if did) so FYI. But otherwise awesome tip, thanks! –  JasonCoder Mar 12 at 21:15
I am using Yosemite and not having any problem with the one-line version –  Michael Durrant Mar 19 at 20:08
Maybe you needed to do a new terminal session perhaps or . .bashrc ? –  Michael Durrant Mar 19 at 20:09

Some people prefer to use a package manager to automate the installing, updating, and configuring of MAC OS packages. I am a fan of package managers, and I think Homebrew is the best package manager for MAC OS X (some would say it's the de-facto OS-X package manager).

Once you have installed homebrew, you can simply install git along with bash-completion with brew install git bash-completion.

You'll then need to put the following in your ~/.bash_profile:

if [ -f $(brew --prefix)/etc/bash_completion ]; then
    . $(brew --prefix)/etc/bash_completion

(Note: If this install fails with a 404 error, and you already have git installed, just remove the git part of this brew install)

more info on installing git and bash-completion with brew here: https://github.com/bobthecow/git-flow-completion/wiki/Install-Bash-git-completion

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Adding git and adding bash-completion is not at all the same as adding .git-completion.bash They are different programs and they do quite different things - one does bash command autocompletion and the other does git command autocompletion and 'nair the twain will meet ;) –  Michael Durrant Sep 8 '14 at 19:49

You could install bash and git from MacPorts with the "bash_completion" option enabled. It is probably the easiest way of maintaining both git and the completions up-to-date.


To install MacPorts: http://www.macports.org/install.php/

Additional info

As for locating the completion settings on your Linux system, have a look in /etc/bash_completion.d/git (it is a long file). Copying that by itself probably won't work, though, as it is designed to be sourced by the completion framework through /etc/bash_completion (which is sourced from /etc/profile.d/bash_completion.sh; files in /etc/profile.d are sourced from /etc/profile).

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Locate your .bashrc file.

Open it and add this line at the bottom:

source /etc/bash_completion.d/git

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