Tutorial: Fixing Commits Linked to No one

Written by PChan on 2017-07-22

The Issue

When you check the commit history, at least some of your commits are not linked to you (gray octocats as profile pictures).


A gray octocat image instead of your profile picture


Ensure that this is your issue before trying the solution.



This solution can seriously screw things over for you (and your partners) if you mistype something. Follow the steps with care.

Before you start...

  1. Talk to your teacher about your situation. If your teacher wants you to proceed with fixing the issue, talk to your partners and make sure they understand the possible consquences. Proceed only with your teacher consent and make sure your partners are aware!
  2. Do this at the Dojo with someone skilled in Git watching you. I am NOT to blame if you mess up.


  1. Make a backup of the current state of your repository. Use cp to make a copy:

    $ cp -r /path/to/your/repo /path/for/your/backup
  2. Navigate to the root of your repository. We will need to locate the name and email associated with the commits that were not linked to you. You can do this by running:

    $ git log
  3. This will show you the history of your repository. Press enter until you see one of your old commits that was done under the wrong name or email.

  4. Copy down the name (next to Author:) and the email address (in the <> next to the name) exactly the way you see it. Hit q when you are done.

  5. Now copy (Ctrl-C) and paste (Ctrl-Shift-V or Shift-Insert) the following command into the terminal:

    $ git filter-branch --env-filter '
          oldname="(old name)"
          oldemail="(old email)"
          newname="(new name)"
          newemail="(new email)"
          [ "$GIT_AUTHOR_EMAIL"="$oldemail" ] && GIT_AUTHOR_EMAIL="$newemail"
          [ "$GIT_COMMITTER_EMAIL"="$oldemail" ] && GIT_COMMITTER_EMAIL="$newemail"
          [ "$GIT_AUTHOR_NAME"="$oldname" ] && GIT_AUTHOR_NAME="$newname"
          [ "$GIT_COMMITTER_NAME"="$oldname" ] && GIT_COMMITTER_NAME="$newname"
          ' HEAD
  6. Replace old name in the line, oldname="(old name)" with the name that you copied down.

  7. Replace old email in the line, oldemail="(old email)" with the email that you copied down.

  8. Replace new name in the line, newname="(new name)" with your Github username.

  9. Replace new email in the line, newemail="(new email)" with your Github email address.

  10. Double check that you type in everything correctly. Press enter to execute the command.

  11. Run git log to review the history of the repository. Ensure that everything looks the way it should. This is the last chance for you to correct any mistakes


Correcting mistakes after this last step is very difficult. Make sure you are certain there are no errors.

  1. Run this command to rewrite the history for the upstream repository (located at github.com):

    $ git push -f origin
  2. If everything works out, you have just successfully fixed the issue!!