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How to rename default branch in Git and GitHub


1 min read

I’m currently maintaining a GitHub repo that has grown over the last year. It primarily contains all the example code that I create when working on React Native and Expo articles and tutorials.

Recently, I switched the default branch to main. Here are the steps I took. All of these commands execute inside a terminal window.

Start by moving the default branch locally using the -m flag.

git branch -m master main

Above, master is the old branch name and main is the new branch name.

Set the new branch as the local default on the remote. By default, Git doesn’t allow renaming a remote branch.

git push -u origin main

# output
* [new branch]      main -> main
Branch 'main' set up to track remote branch 'main' from 'origin'.

Set the current local HEAD branch to point to the new branch on GitHub.

git remote set-head origin main

Now, go to the GitHub repo. Open Settings > Branches. Under Default Branch, click the edit button to switch to the main branch.


Now, go back to the terminal window and run the following command to delete the previous default branch name.

git push origin --delete master

# output
- [deleted]         master

That’s it!

I'm a software developer and a technical writer. On this blog, I write about my learnings in software development and technical writing.

Currently, working as a documentation lead at  Expo.