Git: cannot checkout branch – error: pathspec '…' did not match any file(s) known to git – Dev

The best answers to the question “Git: cannot checkout branch – error: pathspec '…' did not match any file(s) known to git” in the category Dev.


I’m not sure why I’m unable to checkout a branch that I had worked on earlier. See the commands below (note: co is an alias for checkout):

[email protected]:~/source/unstilted$ git branch -a
* develop
  remotes/origin/HEAD -> origin/master
[email protected]:~/source/unstilted$ git co feature/user_controlled_site_layouts 
error: pathspec 'feature/user_controlled_site_layouts' did not match any file(s) known to git.

I’m not sure what it means, and I can’t seem to find anything I can understand on Google.

How do I checkout that branch, and what may I have done to break this?


I found this post, and running git show-ref gives me:

97e2cb33914e763ff92bbe38531d3fd02408da46 refs/heads/develop
c438c439c66da3f2356d2449505c073549b221c1 refs/heads/feature/datts_right
11a90dae8897ceed318700b9af3019f4b4dceb1e refs/heads/feature/user_controlled_menu
c889b37a5ee690986935c9c74b71999e2cf3c6d7 refs/heads/master
c889b37a5ee690986935c9c74b71999e2cf3c6d7 refs/remotes/origin/HEAD
e7c17eb40610505eea4e6687e4572191216ad4c6 refs/remotes/origin/develop
c438c439c66da3f2356d2449505c073549b221c1 refs/remotes/origin/feature/datts_right
c889b37a5ee690986935c9c74b71999e2cf3c6d7 refs/remotes/origin/master
23768aa5425cbf29d10ff24274adad42d90d15cc refs/stash
e572cf91e95da03f04a5e51820f58a7306ce01de refs/tags/menu_shows_published_only
429ebaa895d9d41d835a34da72676caa75902e3d refs/tags/slow_dev

UPDATE on .git directory (user_controlled_site_layouts is in the refs/heads/feature folder):

$ ls .git/refs/heads/feature/
datts_right  user_controlled_menu  user_controlled_site_layouts
$ cat .git/refs/heads/feature/user_controlled_site_layouts

UPDATE on git show 3af84fcf1508c44013844dcd0998a14e61455034

$ git show 3af84fcf1508c44013844dcd0998a14e61455034
commit 3af84fcf1508c44013844dcd0998a14e61455034
Author: Ramon Tayag <[email protected]>
Date:   Thu May 12 19:00:03 2011 +0800

    Removed site layouts migration

diff --git a/db/schema.rb b/db/schema.rb
index 1218fc8..2040b9f 100755
--- a/db/schema.rb
+++ b/db/schema.rb
@@ -10,7 +10,7 @@
 # It's strongly recommended to check this file into your version control system.

-ActiveRecord::Schema.define(:version => 20110511012647) do
+ActiveRecord::Schema.define(:version => 20110503040056) do

   create_table "attachments", :force => true do |t|
     t.string   "name"
@@ -205,15 +205,6 @@ ActiveRecord::Schema.define(:version => 20110511012647) do
     t.integer  "old_id"

-  create_table "site_layouts", :force => true do |t|
-    t.string   "name"
-    t.text     "description"
-    t.text     "content"
-    t.integer  "site_id"
-    t.datetime "created_at"
-    t.datetime "updated_at"
-  end
   create_table "site_styles", :force => true do |t|
     t.text     "published"
     t.datetime "created_at"


I was getting this error when I tried to checkout new branch:

error: pathspec ‘BRANCH-NAME’ did not match any file(s) known to git.

When I tried git checkout origin/<BRANCH-NAME>, I got the detached HEAD:

(detached from origin/)

Finally, I did the following to resolve the issue:

git remote update
git fetch 
git checkout --track origin/<BRANCH-NAME>


Try git fetch so that your local repository gets all the new info from Github. It just takes the information about new branches and no actual code. After that, the git checkout should work fine.

You basically see the branch, but you don’t have a local copy yet!…

You can simply fetch and then checkout to the branch, use the command below to do that:

git fetch
git checkout <Branch name here>

I also created the image below for you to share the differences, look at how fetch works, and also how it’s different to pull:

enter image description here


If you deleted a branch with git branch -D yourbranchname and pulled/cloned again your repo, you may need to create your local branch again.


git checkout -b yourbranchname


I got this error for a branch that was remote and had no local tracking branch. Even though I’m certain I’ve checked out remote branches via a simple

git checkout feature/foo

in the past, to get around this error I had to

git checkout -t -b feature/foo origin/feature/foo

I have no idea what I did to get myself into that situation either.