Undoing add in Git

To undo git add action, run git restore --staged for a file or “git reset” for all files that have been added to index. git reset HEAD -- also works for unstaging a file, but take care to use git reset command for it may bring unexpected results if you do not use it correctly.

Unstage a file

If you add a file to staging area and want to undo the action, use below git restore command to unstage it:

# Syntax
# Undo add action for a file
# --, the following parameter will be parsed as a file path
$ git restore --staged -- <file-path>

# Examples:

# Undo add action for index.php
$ git restore --staged -- index.php

Unstage all files

If you want to undo add action for all the files that have been added to staging area, use git reset to do that:

$ git reset HEAD
# or
# If no commit is specified, it defaults to HEAD
$ git reset

If fact, git status will tell you how to unstage a file. Depending on your version of Git, you may see some content like this :

$ git status
On branch master
Your branch is up to date with 'origin/master'.

Changes to be committed:
  (use "git restore --staged <file>..." to unstage)
        new file:   index.md

On older versions, it may prompt using git reset HEAD to unstage a file:

$ git status
On branch master
Changes to be committed:
  (use "git reset HEAD <file>..." to unstage)

    modified:    index.php

git reset HEAD -- also work, git reset and git resotre has some overlapped function.

If you are confusing the three commands, revert, restore and reset, see their differences at the bottom of the post.


  • git restore

  • git reset

  • Reset, restore and revert

    There are three commands with similar names: git reset, git restore and git revert.

    • git-revert is about making a new commit that reverts the changes made by other commits.

    • git-restore is about restoring files in the working tree from either the index or another commit. This command does not update your branch. The command can also be used to restore files in the index from another commit.

    • git-reset is about updating your branch, moving the tip in order to add or remove commits from the branch. This operation changes the commit history.

    git reset can also be used to restore the index, overlapping with git restore.