Ione Souza Junior

Git Blame: Unveiling the Code's History

May 10, 2024 | 5 Minute Read | Translations: pt | #git

Ever stumbled upon a piece of code and wondered, "Who wrote this?" or "When was this changed?". Fear not, fellow developer, for "git blame" is here to the rescue! This powerful command acts as a detective, uncovering the history behind each line of code in your Git repository. Let's delve into it in today's post.

The git blame command is your go-to tool for understanding the evolution of your codebase. It allows you to identify the author, timestamp, and commit associated with the last modification to each line of a specific file. This information proves invaluable for various purposes, from tracking down the source of bugs to assigning responsibility and gaining insights into the development process. Let’s see how it works.

How git blame works

This command shows in the command line annotations for each line of a specific file, providing information about the last commit that changed it. It also displays the commit hash, author, and timestamp.

Examples of how to use git blame

The git blame command is very versatile. Let’s explore some different usages.

Basic usage

Let’s say you’re working with a Swift file called User.swift and you want to know the history behind its lines. Open your terminal, navigate to your repository’s root directory, and run the following command, referencing your project file:

git blame User.swift

This will display an output similar to this:

96d864ac (John Doe   2023-08-15 10:30:01 -0400 1) struct User {
96d864ac (John Doe   2023-08-15 10:30:01 -0400 2)     let id: Int
96d864ac (John Doe   2023-08-15 10:30:01 -0400 3)     let name: String
2b8f7a4c (Mary Smith 2023-08-08 16:22:10 -0400 4)     let email: String?
96d864ac (John Doe   2023-08-15 10:30:01 -0400 5) }

The first column shows the abbreviated commit hash associated with the last change to each line. The second column identifies the author of the commit. Here, we see that John Doe and Mary Smith have contributed to this file. The third column shows the date and time of the commit. The final column indicates the line number in the file. Following the information above, you’ll see the actual content of each line in the file.

By analyzing this output, you can trace the evolution of this file, see who made specific changes, and understand when those changes occurred.

This analyzes the file at the current state. Let’s see how can we do this in a different way.

Analyzing specific revisions

This command allows you to delve into the history of a file at a particular point in time or commit. This is helpful when you want to understand the state of the code at a specific milestone or investigate issues that arose after certain changes.

Imagine you want to see how the User.swift file looked in the commit with the hash fae4321b. You would use the following command:

git blame fae4321b User.swift

The output will show the file’s state at that specific commit, revealing who authored each line and when it was last changed before that point in the history. If you’re not interested in older changes, you can specify a range and it can be in two ways. The first one I’ll show you through a tag. Suppose we have a tag called v123 and we want to see the changes after this time, we just need to put two dots “..” after the tag:

git blame v123.. User.swift

Another option is using the --since flag specifying a period to achieve this:

git blame --since=2.weeks User.swift

These options give you the flexibility to investigate the code at different points in its history, aiding in pinpointing the introduction of bugs or understanding the context of past changes.

Ignoring whitespaces changes

Sometimes, changes in a file involve only whitespace modifications, such as indentation or line breaks. While these changes may be necessary for formatting or style consistency, they can clutter the output of git blame and make it harder to focus on meaningful code changes.

To disregard whitespace changes when analyzing a file, simply include the -w flag in your command. For instance:

git blame -w User.swift

Custom output

There are many options available with this command, but I’ll showcase two more possibilities, both related to the -L flag.

You can analyze a file by specifying a range of line numbers:

git blame -L 10,20 User.swift

This command will show the lines 10 to 20. Furthermore, you can specify a function name, passing it as a regex into the command. Suppose you want to analyze a function called func configConstraints() { ... } in this file, you can run the command this way:

git blame -L /func\ configConstraints/ User.swift

It’s not common and sometimes not easy to do, but it’s a possibility, right?


The git blame is an invaluable tool in any developer’s arsenal. Its ability to unveil the history behind each line of code empowers us to understand how our codebase evolved, track down bugs, and appreciate the contributions of our teammates.

However, it’s crucial to use this command responsibly and avoid creating a culture of blame. Remember, every change, even those that introduced issues, served a purpose at a specific point in time. Instead of pointing fingers, use git blame as a tool for learning, collaboration, and improving your codebase.

By understanding the context behind each modification and fostering open communication, you can harness the power of git blame to create a more productive and positive development environment.

See you in the next post!