Code & Sundry

Set Up A Global .gitignore

328 words, 2 minutes to read

If you've been using git for any amount of time, you've come across .gitignore. I'm not going to go through how it works, but did you know you can set up a global .gitignore?

What do you put in this global .gitignore? My recommendation is caches and auto-generated files and directories created by your operating system, and your editor/IDE of choice. I share my .gitignore across multiple operating systems, so I've ended up with quite a comprehensive one.

As a starting point, I think this one works pretty well: global .gitignore starting point

What to put in the repository .gitignore? I recommend putting caches and auto-generated files and directories created by tooling used by your code or on your code, and auto-generated files and directories specific to the repository.

My rule of thumb for where to put a specific ignore clause is to consider at what "level" the choice was made to use the tool that creates the files and directories I want to ignore were made. Personal choices, like what operating system to use, which editor or IDE, etc are ignored in the global .gitignore. Choices made for a specific repository is put in the local .gitignore.

Even though a lot of you repositories share the same ignore clauses (all your JavaScript repositories ignore node_modules, for example) - don't put that in your global ignore. That just means that someone else is going to commit node_modules by accident.

You can put your global .gitignore wherever you like in your file system. Personally I prefer my home directory. Then you tell git where the global .gitignore file is located by saving it to the git config:

# macOS / Linux
git config --global core.excludesfile ~/.gitignore

# Windows
git config --global core.excludesfile %USERPROFILE%\.gitignore**

Happy coding!