Git tags#

Git tags are references that point to specific commits in the Git history. This allows certain points in the history to be marked for a particular version, for example v3.9.16. Tags are like Git branches that do not change, so have no further history of commits.

git tag TAGNAME

creates a tag, where TAGNAME is a semantic label for the current state of the Git repository. Git distinguishes between two different types of tags: annotated and lightweight tags. They differ in the amount of associated metadata.

Annotated tags

They store not only the TAGNAME, but also additional metadata such as the name and email address of the person who created the tag and the date. In addition, annotated tags have messages, similar to commits. You can create such tags, for example with git tag -a v3.9.16 -m 'Python 3.9.16'. You can then display this additional metadata for example with git show v3.9.16.

Lightweight tags

Lightweight tags can be created, for example, with git tag v3.9.16 without the -a, -s or -m options. They create a tag checksum that are stored in the .git/ directory of your repo.

git tag

lists the tags of your repo, for example:

git tag -l 'REGEX'

lists only tags that match a regular expression.


creates a tag for a previous commit.

The previous examples create tags for implicit commits that reference HEAD. Alternatively, git tag can be passed the reference to a specific commit that you get with Git log.

However, if you try to create a tag with the same identifier as an existing tag, Git will give you an error message, for example Fatal: tag 'v3.9.16' already exists. If you try to tag an older commit with an existing tag, Git will give the same error.

In case you need to update an existing tag, you can use the -f option, for example:

$ git tag -af v3.9.16 595f9ccb0c059f2fb5bf13643bfc0cdd5b55a422 -m 'Python 3.9.16'
Tag 'v3.9.16' updated (was 4f5c5473ea)
git push origin TAGNAME

Sharing tags is similar to pushing branches: by default, git push does not share tags, but they must be explicitly passed to git push for example:

$ git tag -af v3.9.16 -m 'Python 3.9.16'
$ git push origin v3.9.16
Counting objects: 1, done.
Writing objects: 100% (1/1), 161 bytes, done.
Total 1 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0)
 * [new tag]         v3.9.16 -> v3.9.16

To push multiple tags at once, pass the --tags option to the git push command. Others get the tags on git clone or git pull of the repo.

git checkout TAGNAME

switches to the state of the repo with this tag and detaches HEAD. This means that any changes made now will not update the tag, but will end up in a detached commit that cannot be part of a branch and will only be directly accessible via the SHA hash of the commit. Therefore, a new branch is usually created when such changes are to be made, for example with git checkout -b v3.9.17 v3.9.16.

git tag -d TAGNAME

deletes a tag, for example:

$ git tag -d v3.9.16
$ git push origin --delete v3.9.16