How do I change the default branch name in Git?

Git recently changed its default branch name from master to main. In your own projects though, you may want to a default branch name other than main.

How to change the default branch name in Git

For a long time Git has used the default branch name of master. Recently, they decided that it would be best to change the default name from master to main. All new versions of Git come with the default branch name now set to main.

Git – Renaming the default branch from master

But what about your projects?

If you are developing your own systems, or you have an abstract fear of the word ‘main’, you can still change the default branch name for your Git repositories to something that makes sense to your process. For example, you might want to set the default name to release, or production. Or maybe you could set it to your company name, or your pet’s name, as long as you don’t use it as a security question.

Is it easy to change the default branch name in Git?

It’s like changing a lightbulb. It only takes a single line of code in a terminal, and another one to check that the change has been made.

If Git is not installed, the following article from the official Git page can guide you through installing Git on your computer. Getting started – Installing Git

To change the default branch name:

  • Open up your terminal.
    • In Windows, press Windows key + R. Then in the window that appears, type in cmd and press enter.
    • In Mac, bring up the Spotlight search by pressing Command + Space, then type in terminal to search for and open the terminal application.
  • In the terminal window, check the version of Git on your computer. This will also let you know if it is installed on your system
    • In the terminal, type in the command git --version
  • Next, get the current settings for Git on your computer
    • Type in git config --list
  • You should see a setting called init.defaultBranch. If the value is not set to main, you can use the following command to change the default branch name to main
    • Type in git config --global init.defaultBranch main
    • Follow it up by running the git config --list command again
    • The value of init.defaultBranch should now be main

If that is a little bit confusing, that’s ok. Sometimes it’s easier to see it visually. Please watch the following YouTube video which shows how to change the default branch name in Git.
Git – change default branch name

That’s all you need to do. A single line of code to change the default branch name in Git. Like changing a light bulb.