Understanding git pull and How It Differs from git fetch

In this blog post, we’ll talk about two common Git commands: git pull and git fetch. They might look like they do the same thing, but they’re actually different. We’ll explain what each command does and highlight their main differences.

What is git pull?

The git pull command is used to update your local repository with changes from a remote repository. Essentially, it performs a git fetch followed by a git merge. In other words, git pull fetches the changes from a remote repository and immediately applies those changes to your local repository.

Syntax and Example

The basic syntax for git pull is:

git pull [remote] [branch-name]

Here’s a quick example:

git pull origin main

In this example, git pull fetches changes from the main branch of the origin remote repository and merges them into your current local branch.

What is git fetch?

Unlike git pull, the git fetch command only downloads changes from the remote repository to your local machine but doesn’t apply them to your local repository. You can think of git fetch as a safe way to update your local repository without making any changes to your working directory.

Syntax and Example

The basic syntax for git fetch is:

git fetch [remote]

For example:

git fetch origin

This fetches all changes from the origin remote but doesn’t merge them. You can inspect these updates and choose to merge them later.

Key Differences Between git pull and git fetch

Now, we’ll list the key differences between the two git commands:

Automatic Merge

  • git pull: Automatically merges the fetched changes into your current branch.
  • git fetch: Does not perform a merge, giving you the opportunity to review changes before integrating them.


  • git pull: Because it automatically merges, there’s a risk of merge conflicts if your local branch and the fetched branch have diverged.
  • git fetch: Considered safer because it allows you to inspect changes before merging them.


  • git pull: Less flexible, as it fetches and merges in a single command.
  • git fetch: More flexible, allowing you to fetch changes from all branches or specific branches, remotes, and tags.


Both git pull and git fetch have their advantages and use-cases. If you want a quick way to update your local repository and are sure that there won’t be any merge conflicts, git pull is a suitable option. On the other hand, if you want a safer, more flexible way to review changes before merging, then git fetch is the better choice.