What is the difference between git diff –cached and git diff –staged?

When working with Git, a version control system, we often use the git diff command to see the differences between two sets of code. git diff by itself shows the difference between your working directory and the index (staging area), allowing you to see what changes you’ve made but haven’t yet staged.

Now, when we talk about git diff --cached and git diff --staged, it’s essential to understand that these two commands are actually identical. They both display the differences between the index (staging area) and the most recent commit. The difference lies only in the terminology:

  1. git diff –cached: This is the traditional command used in older versions of Git. The term “cached” comes from the concept that when you add changes to your staging area, you’re essentially caching them for your next commit.
  2. git diff –staged: This command was introduced in more recent versions of Git to help make its functionality more intuitive to users. The term “staged” makes it clear that this command refers to changes that have been added to the staging area but not yet committed.

So, to clarify, there’s no functional difference between git diff --cached and git diff --staged. They both compare changes in your staging area with your last commit, and the use of one over the other boils down to personal preference or the specific version of Git you’re using.

Here’s a brief summary:

  • git diff: Shows unstaged changes (i.e., changes in the working directory that are not yet added to the staging area).
  • git diff --cached OR git diff --staged: Shows staged changes (i.e., changes that are added to the staging area but not yet committed).

These commands are a vital part of Git’s powerful version control capabilities, helping developers track their changes and manage their code effectively.