How to Force Git to Forget a Tracked File (Even if it's in .gitignore) 😤

Stop Git from tracking a file that's in .gitignore. A step-by-step guide to removing a file from Git's history.

The Problem
You've done everything right. You added the file to .gitignore, but Git stubbornly refuses to forget it ever existed. Any changes you make keep popping up in git status. Let's fix this.

The Solution
Here's the two-step process to make Git completely forget a previously tracked file:

  • Remove from Git's Cache:
git rm --cached <filename>

Replace <filename> with the actual name of the file you want to untrack.

  • Commit Your Changes:
git commit -m "Removed <filename> from tracking"

Important Note: This won't delete the file from your local system – it only removes it from Git's tracking.

Pro-Tip: To avoid similar issues in the future, add files you want to ignore to your .gitignore before they are initially tracked by Git.

Why does this happen?
.gitignore is designed to prevent new files from being added to Git's tracking. If a file was already being tracked before you added it to .gitignore, Git won't magically forget about it. That's why we need the extra steps to clear it from Git's memory.

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