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, where verb is what we actually want to do. So here is how Catsy sets up her new laptop:

$ git config --global "Catsy Cline"
$ git config --global ""
$ git config --global color.ui "auto"

Please use your own name and email address instead of Catsy’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.

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.

You might also want to configure Git to use your 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"
Text Wrangler (Mac) $ git config --global core.editor "edit -w"
Sublime Text (Mac) $ git config --global core.editor "subl -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 for many programs, if you haven’t used vim before and wish to exit a session, type Esc then :q! and Enter.

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.

Line Endings

Finally we need to configure how git will handle line endings in our files.

If you are on a Windows machine, type in the following:

$ git config --global core.autocrlf true

Windows users, please note that you will likely receive the following warning when adding files to git. Don’t worry about this!

"warning: CRLF will be replaced by LF in file."

If you are on a Mac OS/Linux machine, type in the following:

$ git config --global core.autocrlf input

More Windows-specific things you may wish to know

Copying and pasting text to and from the terminal on Windows is done with right-clicking as opposed to the usual ctrl-c/ctrl-v combo. Right-click highlighted text to copy it (if you’re in the Git bash shell you’ll have to specifically select “Copy”), then right-click and select “Paste” to paste.


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 and the Git manual by using help:

$ git help
$ git help config

Key Points

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