How do I check out a remote Git branch?


Somebody pushed a branch called test with git push origin test to a shared repository. I can see the branch with git branch -r. How do I check out the remote test branch? I’ve tried:

  • git checkout test, which does nothing
  • git checkout origin/test gives * (no branch)


The answer has been split depending on whether there is one remote repository configured or multiple. The reason for this is that for the single remote case, some of the commands can be simplified as there is less ambiguity.

Updated for Git 2.23: For older versions, see the section at the end.

With One Remote

In both cases, start by fetching from the remote repository to make sure you have all the latest changes downloaded.

$ git fetch

This will fetch all of the remote branches for you. You can see the branches available for checkout with:

$ git branch -v -a


The branches that start with remotes/* can be thought of as read only copies of the remote branches. To work on a branch you need to create a local branch from it. This is done with the Git command switch (since Git 2.23) by giving it the name of the remote branch (minus the remote name):

$ git switch test

In this case Git is guessing (can be disabled with --no-guess) that you are trying to checkout and track the remote branch with the same name.

With Multiple Remotes

In the case where multiple remote repositories exist, the remote repository needs to be explicitly named.

As before, start by fetching the latest remote changes:

$ git fetch origin

This will fetch all of the remote branches for you. You can see the branches available for checkout with:

$ git branch -v -a

With the remote branches in hand, you now need to check out the branch you are interested in with -c to create a new local branch:

$ git switch -c test origin/test

For more information about using git switch:

$ man git-switch

I also created the image below for you to share the differences, look at how to fetch works, and also how it’s different to pull:

enter image description here

Prior to Git 2.23

git switch was added in Git 2.23, prior to this git checkout was used to switch branches.

To checkout out with only a single remote repository:

git checkout test

if there there are multiple remote repositories configured it becomes a bit longer

git checkout -b test <name of remote>/test


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