Setting Up Git


Teaching: 5 min
Exercises: 0 min
  • How do I get set up to use Git?

  • Configure git the first time it is used on a computer.

  • Understand the meaning of the --global configuration flag.

When we use Git on a new computer for the first time, we need to configure a few things. Below are a few examples of configurations we will set as we get started with Git:

On a command line, Git commands are written as git verb options, where verb is what we actually want to do and options is additional optional information which may be needed for the verb. So here is how Dracula sets up his new laptop:

$ git config --global "Vlad Dracula"
$ git config --global "vlad@tran.sylvan.ia"

Please use your own name and email address instead of Dracula’s. This user name and email will be associated with your subsequent Git activity, which means that any changes pushed to GitHub, BitBucket, GitLab or another Git host server in a later lesson will include this information.

Line Endings

As with other keys, when you hit Return on your keyboard, your computer encodes this input as a character. Different operating systems use different character(s) to represent the end of a line. (You may also hear these referred to as newlines or line breaks.) Because Git uses these characters to compare files, it may cause unexpected issues when editing a file on different machines. Though it is beyond the scope of this lesson, you can read more about this issue on on this GitHub page.

You can change the way Git recognizes and encodes line endings using the core.autocrlf command to git config. The following settings are recommended:

On macOS and Linux:

$ git config --global core.autocrlf input

And on Windows:

$ git config --global core.autocrlf true

For these lessons, we will be interacting with GitHub and so the email address used should be the same as the one used when setting up your GitHub account. If you are concerned about privacy, please review GitHub’s instructions for keeping your email address private. If you elect to use a private email address with GitHub, then use that same email address for the value, e.g. replacing username with your GitHub one. You can change the email address later on by using the git config command again.

Dracula also has to set his favorite text editor, following this table:

Editor Configuration command
Atom $ git config --global core.editor "atom --wait"
nano $ git config --global core.editor "nano -w"
BBEdit (Mac, with command line tools) $ git config --global core.editor "bbedit -w"
Sublime Text (Mac) $ git config --global core.editor "/Applications/Sublime\ -n -w"
Sublime Text (Win, 32-bit install) $ git config --global core.editor "'c:/program files (x86)/sublime text 3/sublime_text.exe' -w"
Sublime Text (Win, 64-bit install) $ git config --global core.editor "'c:/program files/sublime text 3/sublime_text.exe' -w"
Notepad++ (Win, 32-bit install) $ git config --global core.editor "'c:/program files (x86)/Notepad++/notepad++.exe' -multiInst -notabbar -nosession -noPlugin"
Notepad++ (Win, 64-bit install) $ git config --global core.editor "'c:/program files/Notepad++/notepad++.exe' -multiInst -notabbar -nosession -noPlugin"
Kate (Linux) $ git config --global core.editor "kate"
Gedit (Linux) $ git config --global core.editor "gedit --wait --new-window"
Scratch (Linux) $ git config --global core.editor "scratch-text-editor"
Emacs $ git config --global core.editor "emacs"
Vim $ git config --global core.editor "vim"

It is possible to reconfigure the text editor for Git whenever you want to change it.

Exiting Vim

Note that Vim is the default editor for many programs. If you haven’t used Vim before and wish to exit a session without saving your changes, press Esc then type :q! and hit Return. If you want to save your changes and quit, press Esc then type :wq and hit Return.

The four commands we just ran above only need to be run once: the flag --global tells Git to use the settings for every project, in your user account, on this computer.

You can check your settings at any time:

$ git config --list

You can change your configuration as many times as you want: just use the same commands to choose another editor or update your email address.


In some networks you need to use a proxy. If this is the case, you may also need to tell Git about the proxy:

$ git config --global http.proxy proxy-url
$ git config --global https.proxy proxy-url

To disable the proxy, use

$ git config --global --unset http.proxy
$ git config --global --unset https.proxy

Git Help and Manual

Always remember that if you forget a git command, you can access the list of commands by using -h and access the Git manual by using --help :

$ git config -h
$ git config --help

Key Points

  • Use git config with the --global option to configure a user name, email address, editor, and other preferences once per machine.