Sometimes, I will receive a pull request to one of my repositories that has commits that affect several files.

I want to merge the changes to one or two of those files across several commits, but ignore the changes to the other files.

Getting the latest changes.

First, create a new branch and pull in the commits submitted in the pull request:

$ git checkout -b pull-request-23
$ git pull master

If I were to git checkout master and git merge pull-request-23, this would manually merge the pull request, as GitHub describes it:

git merge –squash prevents the merge commit

Instead of merging right into master with all of those changes, I can git merge --squash, which will add all of the changes to the index on master.

$ git checkout master
$ git merge --squash pull-request-23

At this point, the changes from pull-request-23 will be staged while on master, and I can unstage the files that I don’t want by using git reset HEAD <path>

$ git reset HEAD files-i-dont-want/ ignore-me.rb

To get rid of the unstaged changes:

$ git checkout -- .

And to remove untracked files and directories:

$ git clean -fd

Now, your index should only contain changes to the files that you want to merge in via the pull request. Finally, make the commit.

$ git commit -m "Merge the cleaned up pull-request-23; fixes #23"

Notice the “fixes #23” at the end of the commit message? GitHub allows you to close issues from a commit! -

And push!

$ git push origin master

GitHub will add a comment to the pull request thread showing that you’ve closed the pull request:

Now you don’t need to ask your pull-request-submitters to clean up their changes, and you can merge in the important stuff right away!

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