Working locally with GitHub PRs

Working on a PR on django/, a question came up about how to rebase if the GitHub UI doesn't offer exactly what you want:

What do you usually do in these situations?

So, since you have write access, and assuming "Allow edits by maintainers" is checked (which is almost always, being the default) you can push to the contributor branch.

The PR was number 963. So to checkout the PR locally you can do:

git fetch origin pull/963/head:pr/963

This pulls the branch from this PR to a local branch pr/963.

You can then check that out.

I have it as an alias:

% cat ~/.gitconfig| grep 'pr ='           
    pr = !sh -c \"git fetch origin pull/${1}/head:pr/${1} && git checkout pr/${1}\"

So I do git pr 936 to fetch and checkout the branch.


I then rebase... so git pull --rebase origin main — but I usually use the awesome Fork GUI

Then to push you look at the top where it says ... into django:main from pauloxnet:feature/update_docs_and_index — you can use the icon to copy the pauloxnet:feature/update_docs_and_index which is the username:branchname pair.

Then to push it's:

git push -f HEAD:feature/update_docs_and_index
  • force push with -f
  • The username is the — I use the SSH URLs, but you might use HTTPS URLs, in which case it would be
  • pauloxnet/ is the remote — you get the username from the username:branchname pair you copied before
  • HEAD is your checkedout out version of the PR — what you're pushing.
  • feature/update_docs_and_index is the other part of the username:branchname pair you copied before.

I use a TextExpander snippet to map from one to the other, but any of a million similar tools are worthwhile.

Resetting the local branch after updates

The other git alias I use all the time is to reset a local branch to a PR, if the user pushed updates:

~ % cat ~/.gitconfig| grep 'pr-reset'
    pr-reset = !sh -c \"git fetch origin pull/${1}/head && git reset --hard FETCH_HEAD\"

This is the same fetch as before, but instead of creating the local branch it hard resets to the remote state. I do git pr-reset 963 to reset to the latest remote state.