The git cola interface is composed of various cooperating tools. Double-clicking a tool opens it in its own subwindow. Dragging it around moves and places it within the window.

Tools can be hidden and rearranged however you like. git cola carefully remembers your window layout and restores it the next time it is launched.

A hidden tool can be re-opened using the Tools menu as well as the Alt-1,2,3,…, shortcut keys.


The Status tool provides a visual analog to the git status command.

Status displays files that are modified relative to the staging area, staged for the next commit, unmerged files from an in-progress merge, and files that are untracked to git.

These are the same categories one sees when running git status on the command line.

You can navigate through the list of files using keyboard arrows as well as the ergonomical and vim-like j and k shortcut keys.

There are several convenient ways to interact with files in the Status tool. Selecting a file displays its diff in the Diff viewer. Double-clicking a file stages its contents, as does the the Ctrl-s shortcut key.

Ctrl-e opens selected files in the conifgured $EDITOR, and Ctrl-d opens selected files using git difftool.

Additional actions can be performed using the right-click context menu.

Configuring your $EDITOR

The editor used by Ctrl-e is configured from the Preferences screen. The environment variables $VISUAL and $EDITOR are used when no editor has been configured.

The editor preference is saved in the gui.editor variable using git config.

ProTip – Setting gvim -p as your configured editor opens multiple files using tabs (and gvim -o uses splits).

git cola is {vim, emacs, textpad, notepad++}-aware. When you select a line in the grep screen and press any of Enter, Ctrl-e, or the “Edit” button, you are taken to that exact line.


Clicking the Staged folder shows a diffstat for the index.

Clicking the Modified folder shows a diffstat for the worktree.

Clicking individual files sends diffs to the Diff Display.

Double-clicking individual files adds and removes their content from the index.

Various actions that are available through the right-click context menu. Different actions are available depending a file’s status.

Staged Files

Unstage Selected
Remove from the index/staging area with git reset
Launch Editor
Launch the configured visual editor
Launch Difftool
Visualize changes with git difftool
Revert Unstaged Edits
Throw away unstaged edits.

Modified Files

Stage Selected
Add to the staging area with git add
Launch Editor
Launches the configured visual text editor
Launch Difftool
Visualize changes relative to the index with git difftool
Revert Unstaged Edits
Reverts unstaged content by checking out selected paths from the index/staging area
Revert Uncommited Edits
Throws away uncommitted edits

Unmerged Files

Launch Merge Tool
Resolve conflicts using git mergetool
Stage Selected
Mark as resolved using git add
Launch Editor
Launch the configured visual text editor

Untracked Files

Stage Selected
Add to the index/staging area with git add
Launch Editor
Launch the configured visual text editor
Delete File(s)
Delete files from the filesystem
Add to .gitignore
Adds file/files to GIT ignore list for untracked files


The diff viewer/editor displays diffs for selected files. Additions are shown in green and removals are displayed in light red. Extraneous whitespace is shown with a pure-red background.

Right-clicking in the diff provides access to additional actions that use either the cursor location or text selection.

Staging content for commit

The @@ patterns denote a new diff region. Selecting lines of diff and using the Stage Selected command will stage just the selected lines. Clicking within a diff region and selecting Stage Section stages the entire patch region.

The corresponding opposite commands can be performed on staged files as well, e.g. staged content can be selectively removed from the index when we are viewing diffs for staged content.

Commit Message Editor

The git cola commit message editor is a simple text widget for entering commit messages.

You can navigate between the Subject and Extended description… fields using the keyboard arrow keys.

Pressing enter when inside the Subject field jumps down to the extended description field.

The Options button menu to the left of the subject field provides access to the additional actions.

The Ctrl+i keyboard shortcut adds a standard “Signed-off-by: ” line, and Ctrl+Enter creates a new commit using the commit message and staged content.

Sign Off

The Sign Off button adds a standard:

Signed-off-by: A. U. Thor <>

line to the bottom of the commit message.

Invoking this action is equivalent to passing the -s option to git commit.


The commit button runs git commit. The contents of the commit message editor is provided as the commit message.

Only staged files are included in the commit – this is the same behavior as running git commit on the command-line.

Line and Column Display

The current line and column number is displayed by the editor. E.g. a 5,0 display means that the cursor is located at line five, column zero.

The display changes colors when lines get too long. Yellow indicates the safe boundary for sending patches to a mailing list while keeping space for inline reply markers.

Orange indicates that the line is starting to run a bit long and should break soon.

Red indicates that the line is running up against the standard 80-column limit for commit messages.

Keeping commit messages less than 76-characters wide is encouraged. git log is a great tool but long lines mess up its formatting for everyone else, so please be mindful when writing commit messages.

Amend Last Commit

Clicking on Amend Last Commit makes git cola amend the previous commit instead of creating a new one. git cola loads the previous commit message into the commit message editor when this option is selected.

The Status tool will display all of the changes for the amended commit.