Using Git from PowerShell

This year has been full of changes for me. One of the biggest changes is that my job requires me to use Git and GitHub for almost all of my work. Before this new job, I had never used Git. By default, the Git installer installs the bash command shell. Most of the documentation is written assuming that you are using bash. However, I prefer to work in PowerShell. In this article I will show how I set up my environment to enable Git functionality in PowerShell. This is not meant to be a tutorial on using Git but, rather, a example of what works for me and for my workflow.

Download and install the Git for Windows

First thing is to install Git for Windows.

Download and run the Git for Windows installer. As you step through the installation wizard you are presented with several options. The following is a list of the options on each page of the installation wizard with the reasoning behind my choice.

  • The Select Components page
    • Check Git LFS (Large File Support)
    • Check Associate .git* configuration files with the default text
    • Check Use a TrueType font in all console windows
      I prefer the TrueType font Consolas as my monospaced font for command shells and code editors.
  • The Choosing the default editor used by Git page
    • Select Use Visual Studio Code as Git’s default editor
      VS Code does everything.
  • The Adjusting your PATH environment page
    • Select Use Git from the Windows Command Prompt
      This adds the Git tools to your PATH so that it works for Cmd, PowerShell, or bash.
  • The Choosing HTTPS transport backend page
    • Select Use the native Windows Secure Channel library
  • The Configure the line ending conversions page
    • Select Checkout Windows-style, commit Unix-style line endings
      This is the recommended setting on Windows and provides the most compatibility for cross-platform projects.
  • The Configuring the terminal emulator to use with Git bash page
    • Select Use Windows’ default console window
      This is the console that PowerShell uses and works best with other Windows console-based applications.
  • The Configuring extra options page
    • Check Enable file system caching
      This option is checked by default. Caching improves performance of certain Git operations.
    • Check Enable Git Credential Manager
      The Git Credential Manager for Windows (GCM) provides secure Git credential storage for Windows. GCM provides multi-factor authentication support for Visual Studio Team Services, Team Foundation Server, and GitHub. Enabling GCM prevents the need for Git to continuously prompt for your Git credentials for nearly every operation. For more information see the GCM documentation on GitHub.
    • Check Enable symbolic links

These are the options I chose. You may have different requirements in your environment.

Install the Posh-Git module

Now that we have the Git client installed we need to enable Git functionality for PowerShell. Posh-Git from the Gallery. For more information about Posh-Git, see Posh-Git on GitHub.

If you have PsGet installed just run:

Install-Module posh-git

Alternatively, you can install Posh-Git manually using the instructions in the README.MD in the GitHub repository.

Once Posh-Git is installed you need to integrate Git into your PowerShell environment. Posh-Git includes an example profile script that you can adapt to your needs.

Integrate Git into your PowerShell environment

Integrating Git into PowerShell is simple. There are three main things to do:

  1. Load the Posh-Git module
  2. Start the SSH Agent Service
  3. Configure your prompt to show the Git status

Add the following lines to your PowerShell profile script.

Import-Module posh-git
Start-SshAgent -Quiet
function global:prompt {
    $identity = [Security.Principal.WindowsIdentity]::GetCurrent()
    $principal = [Security.Principal.WindowsPrincipal] $identity
    $name = ($identity.Name -split '\\')[1]
    $path = Convert-Path $executionContext.SessionState.Path.CurrentLocation
    $prefix = "($env:PROCESSOR_ARCHITECTURE)"

    if($principal.IsInRole([Security.Principal.WindowsBuiltInRole] 'Administrator')) { $prefix = "Admin: $prefix" }
    $realLASTEXITCODE = $LASTEXITCODE
    $prefix = "Git $prefix"
    Write-Host ("$prefix[$Name]") -nonewline
    Write-VcsStatus
    ("`n$('+' * (get-location -stack).count)") + "PS $($path)$('>' * ($nestedPromptLevel + 1)) "
    $global:LASTEXITCODE = $realLASTEXITCODE
    $host.ui.RawUI.WindowTitle = "$prefix[$Name] $($path)"
}

The prompt function integrates Git into your PowerShell prompt to show an abbreviated git status. See the README for Posh-Git for a full explanation of the abbreviated status. I have also customize my prompt to show me my user context, whether I am running in a 64-bit or 32-bit shell, and if I am running elevated. Customize this function to meet your needs or preferences.

At this point you are done. You can use Git from PowerShell. Go forth and clone a repo.

Customize your Git environment

You may want to customize some of the settings of your Git environment, especially if this is a new install of Git. Being a good project contributor in Git you should identify yourself so that Git knows who to blame for your commits. Also, I found that the default colors used by Git in the shell could be hard to read. So I customized the colors to make them more visible. For more information, see the Customizing Git topic in the Git documentation.

The following commands only need to be run once. You are setting global preferences so, once they are set, they are used every time you start a new shell.

# Configure your user information to match your GitHub profile
git config --global user.name "John Doe"
git config --global user.email "alias@example.com"

# Set up the colors to improve visibility in the shell
git config --global color.ui true
git config --global color.status.changed "magenta bold"
git config --global color.status.untracked "red bold"
git config --global color.status.added "yellow bold"
git config --global color.status.unmerged "yellow bold"
git config --global color.branch.remote "magenta bold"
git config --global color.branch.upstream "blue bold"
git config --global color.branch.current "green bold"

As I said at the beginning, this is what works for me. Your mileage may vary. Customize this for your preferences and environmental needs.

In future articles, I plan to share scripts I have created to help me with my Git workflow. Do you use Git with Powershell? Share your questions and experiences in the comments.

I am an experienced IT technologist specializing in optimizing user experiences, providing best-in-class support and developing creative solutions. I script therefore I am. I build tools to improve troubleshooting and gather supporting data.

Posted in Git, GitHub, PowerShell

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Mike F Robbins

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