Check out a remote branch in Git

David Y.

The Problem

How do I check out a remote branch in Git?

The Solution

The git fetch command is used to download branches from a remote repository. If the repository has a single remote, running git fetch will download all branches. If the repository has multiple remotes, we must specify which remote to download from, e.g. git fetch origin.

Once git fetch has executed, we can get a list of all remote and local branches with the command:

git branch -a

In the output of this command, remote branches will be formatted as remotes-/<remote>/<branch> and local branches as <branch>. For example:

main remotes/origin/new-feature remotes/another-remote/new-feature

Once remote branches have been fetched, we can use git checkout as we would with a local branch:

git checkout new-feature

This will create a new branch in our local repository that tracks the remote branch.

If you’re fetching from multiple remote repositories that have branches with the same name, a more verbose git checkout command will be required:

git checkout -b new-feature origin/new-feature

This version of the command explicitly tells Git to create a new branch (-b) named new-feature that tracks the remote branch origin/new-feature.

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