How to checkout a specific version of git repository

Last updated on October 10, 2020 by Dan Nanni

A public git repository is often shared by multiple developers who constantly contribute new code and fixes, and users who check out code to try it. Along with code itself, a git repository contains full commit history of the code, as well as revision tracking information. As such, you can easily checkout a particular version of specific files from git repository if you want. In order to checkout a specific version of git repository, see the following examples.

I assume that you have already cloned a git repository as follows.

$ git clone <url of git repository>
$ cd <cloned-directory>

Before checking out a specific version, you probably want to examine the change history first.

To view the commit history of the current directory:

$ git log

To view the commit history of a specific file:

$ git log -p src/import.c

The sample commit history looks as follows.

commit 7a51831cb4dc6b2ae56ad24400ba1fdfed064528
Merge: 69f8529 6fd2611
Author: Peter 
Date:   Wed Nov 14 21:58:47 2012 +0000

    Merge "Fixed a critical bug"

The history shows you, for each commit entry, detailed information about the commit, as well as 40-character checksum hash (e.g., 7a518xxxxxx). The checksum hash is essentially a version number you need to remember in order to checkout next.

To checkout a specific version of the current directory:

$ git checkout <checksum_hash>

To checkout a specific version of a file:

$ git checkout <checksum_hash> <file>

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