Initializing Git

Git is a tool that we can use to save all changes and additions to our code on the computer we’re working on.


Follow along to see how changes are tracked using Git. In this blog we will initialize our friends project directory. In the next blog, we wil practice tracking changes with Git by creating a one-page website that will list our friends. The steps we follow will reflect the daily workflow you might see when using Git.


Before continuing, you should make sure you have Git installed. If you don’t have it installed, you can download it from the Git website.

Git Name and Email

In order to save code using the Git version control system, Git must have a name and email to stamp every time we take a snapshot of our work.


When working on a project, we set a global configuration in the terminal:

command prompt

$ git config --global "Full Name"
$ git config --global

This sets the name and email for every save that is made in any directory anywhere on the device. A directory is another word for folder. If you are setting this on your personal device you will only have to set this once for it to be set on every project. You can always change the name or email later using the commands above.

Starting a New Project

If we enter ls in the command prompt, we can see the list of what other files and directories are in our home directory. We need to decide if this is where we want our new project to be stored. Whenever you start a new project, you should create a new project directory.

Creating a Project Directory

I like to create project directories inside a directory in the Desktop for easy access. Let’s change directories from our home directory into our Desktop using the cd command:

command prompt

$ cd Desktop

Now, we can add our git-projects directory:

command prompt

$ mkdir git-projects

Then, we can add our friends project directory:

command prompt

$ mkdir git-projects/friends

Another ls shows that our git-projects directory was created. This is also mirrored by the new folder on the Desktop of our device.

Let’s change directories again so that we are now in the friends directory:

command prompt

$ cd git-projects/friends

To confirm that we are where we think we are, we can always show our location with a pwd:

command prompt

$ pwd

Initializing Git

The next step before we create a single file for our friends website is to create a Git directory within our project directory that will track everything we add, modify and delete.

We do this by initializing a new Git repository:

command prompt

$ git init
Initialized empty Git repository in /home/pc/Desktop/git-projects/friends/.git/

Now if we do an ls, we might expect to see the new directory. But where is it? Directories beginning with a . are called hidden files and do not appear when you list the files with an ls. To see hidden files, we have to add a modifier to our ls command, -a which tells our terminal to list all:

command prompt

$ ls -a

On Windows you can use

command prompt

> ls -force

The .git directory is a directory like any other. Let’s cd into it and ls it’s contents.

command prompt

$ cd .git
$ ls
branches  config  description  HEAD  hooks  info  objects  refs

We aren’t going to spend ANY time in this directory. The work done here to track our files is going to happen automatically. The reason the directory is hidden is to help ensure that we stay out of it to avoid making any changes to the very important work that Git will be doing for us. Now, as we add, update and delete files, Git will be in the background, keeping track of every change in our project directory.

So, let’s return to the top level of our project directory by changing directories again, moving up one level:

command prompt

$ cd ..


Now, we are ready to track changes with Git. In the next blog, we will add the HTML page that will list our friends.

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