What is the difference between git diff and git status?

Git is an incredibly powerful tool for version control that allows teams and individual developers to track changes and manage different versions of a project. Two of the key commands within Git are git diff and git status. Both are essential to understand, as they provide crucial information about the changes in your repository, but they serve different purposes.

Git Status:

The git status command is used to display the state of the working directory and the staging area. It shows which changes have been staged, which haven’t, and which files aren’t being tracked by Git.

In other words, git status will give you an overview of all the files that have been modified, deleted, or newly created since the last commit that hasn’t yet been staged (added to the Git index) or committed.

Here’s an example output of git status:

<code>On branch master
Changes not staged for commit:
  (use "git add <file>..." to update what will be committed)
  (use "git restore <file>..." to discard changes in working directory)
    modified:   file1.txt
    deleted:    file2.txt

Untracked files:
  (use "git add <file>..." to include in what will be committed)

In this example, file1.txt has been modified and file2.txt has been deleted, but neither of these changes has been staged. file3.txt is a new file that isn’t being tracked by Git.

Git Diff:

On the other hand, git diff is used to show the differences between different versions of files in your Git repository. It shows the changes you’ve made relative to the files Git has stored.

This command does not provide any information about untracked files or whether changes are staged. It simply shows what you’ve changed in your tracked files but haven’t yet staged.

Here’s an example output of git diff:

<code>diff --git a/file1.txt b/file1.txt
index 7c88d28..83cf7f5 100644
--- a/file1.txt
+++ b/file1.txt
@@ -1 +1 @@
-Hello world
+Hello, Git world

In this example, it shows the changes in file1.txt that haven’t been staged yet. The line “Hello world” has been changed to “Hello, Git world”.

One important thing to note is that there are a few different uses of git diff depending on the arguments you give it:

  • git diff on its own will show changes that you’ve made but not yet staged.
  • git diff --staged (or git diff --cached) will show you the difference between your staged changes and your last commit.
  • git diff HEAD will show you both changes in your working directory and changes in your staging area.

In Summary:

Both git status and git diff are fundamental Git commands that provide information about the state of your repository, but they do so in different ways.

  • git status gives a high-level overview of the state of your working directory and staging area, showing you what files have been modified, deleted, or are untracked.
  • git diff provides a detailed breakdown of what changes have been made in tracked files that haven’t been staged or committed yet. With different flags, you can use it to see differences between other states as well.

Understanding the difference between these two commands is critical to effectively using Git for version control.