Resolve merge conflicts with git rebase

Published on Jun 23, 2023

4 min read


Resolving merge conflicts can sometimes be difficult, and using the GitHub UI may not always be the most effective solution. As the complexity of the conflicts increases, it may be necessary to rely on tools on your local machine rather than the web interface provided by GitHub.

I have discovered that using the git rebase command is a useful method for resolving merge conflicts in my feature branch before merging it into the main branch. Although it took some time to fully understand the process and the necessary steps.



I have been working on a feature-branch in an open-source repository for work for quite some time. However, recent commits merged into the main branch have caused conflicts in my branch, preventing me from merging my own commit. I have two options to proceed:

  • Resolve the conflicts to merge the branches.
  • Create a new pull request if the conflicts are too complex and my changes are of low priority.

Solution: Resolve conflicts with git rebase


Using git rebase in the feature-branch allows to bring changes from the main, and resolve the merge conflicts. Then, I can use VS Code (which has a Resolve merge conflict editor and is pretty handy) and push the changes back to my feature branch. Once the conflicts are resolved, I can merge my branch into the main without any issues which will make GitHub happy.

1: Fetch the latest changes from the main


Open a fresh terminal tab, and navigate into the repository. On the main branch, run:

git pull

This makes sure that the local copy of the main branch on my machine has all the latest changes.

2: Run git log to verify


Running git log helps verifying that main branch has all the latest commits:

git log --oneline --graph --decorate --color
# I use an alias: glog

3: Checkout to the feature-branch


Time to switch to the feature-branch:

git checkout feature-branch
# I use an alias: gck feature-branch

4: Run git rebase to bring changes from the main


To bring changes from the main to the feature-branch, run:

git rebase main

Then run git status to know the status of the branch:

git status
# I use an alias: gs

5: Resolve merge conflicts


If there are merge conflicts, running git status will let you know. Open VS Code, click on open Resolve Merge Conflict editor and you can now accept changes in the left tab which shows the latest changes from main branch.

On the right side, changes from the current feature-branch (probably the ones that are causing conflicts) are shown.

After resolving conflicts, save the file and from the terminal run the following command to stage the modified files:

git add file-name
# I use an alias: ga file-name
# In case, multiple files modified and need to be staged, run:
git add .

Then, run git status once again to see if the modified files are staged.

Then run the following command to commit those changes:

git commit -m "commit message..."
# I use an alias: gc "commit message..."

6: Continue the rebase


Run git rebase command with --continue flag to continue the rebase process:

git rebase --continue

Tip: If required, save changes by pressing :wq! in the terminal.

7: Verify new commits


Run the following command to verify that the new commits from feature-branch are at the top of the commit history and changes from the main:

git log --oneline --graph --decorate --color
# I use an alias: glog

8: Commit changes from local to remote


Finally, push the changes from the local feature-branch to the remote feature-branch:

git push --force



A few added rules I think are worth mentioning in this process:

  • Only use rebase for local branches and if you are the owner of that branch.
  • If you anticipate that the conflicts can become messy, use the strategy described above at regular intervals to avoid a lot of conflicts.

A big thank you to my colleague Sundeep Peswani for teaching this via live coding and jumping on a call to help me understand the process and making my life easier.

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Aman Mittal author

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 maintaining docs at 𝝠 Expo. Read more about me on the About page.

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