What's this in the yellow round box?


I've tried git branch -D, git tag -d but none succeeded. So how to delete it?


3 Answers 3


Alexey Ten has the better answer for this because it handles branches, tags, and packed refs. Future visitors should try that solution before this one.

If it's a tag, the following command ought to work:

git tag -d refs/original/refs/heads/master

But, since you've said it doesn't, you can just delete the file out of the .git directory. From the repository root, a command like this will get it:

rm .git/refs/tags/refs/original/refs/heads/master

The path may be slightly different if the git-tag command failed, so you may want to cd .git/refs and find the offending head by trial-and-error. Deleting the file will remove the reference from your local repository.

  • 2
    It's not a tag, however, I've found it as .git/refs/original/refs/heads/master.
    – Lenik
    May 14, 2011 at 6:45
  • 6
    Use git update-ref rather than manually mutating Git's internals. See Alexey's answer.
    – wchargin
    Oct 27, 2018 at 1:00

This command should work

git update-ref -d refs/original/refs/heads/master
  • 1
    This worked for me with the same problem. Note that the reference was stored in a file called .git/packed-refs. If you open that up you can see the line with the SHA and the string "refs/original/refs/heads/master". You could probably delete that line, but I'd use this command to be safe.
    – Matt N
    Aug 10, 2012 at 13:07
  • 16
    +1: You should always use git update-ref -d instead of just rming the ref - bad things can happen otherwise. Sep 6, 2012 at 23:00
  • 3
    This should be the accepted answer Sep 3, 2015 at 22:29
  • 1
    @CallumRogers why? Dec 7, 2015 at 21:19
  • 6
    @wahnfrieden because git could use packed refs and there will be no corresponding file in refs directory
    – Alexey Ten
    Feb 4, 2016 at 8:15

This is a ref. Normally created by git filter-branch - it is a pointer to where your branch was before you ran git filter-branch.

And to delete any ref, you can always push nothing to it in the local repository:

git push . :refs/original/refs/heads/master

The other answers also covered pretty well other ways of deleting.

  • 2
    "Pushing nothing" to delete the reference locally is very clever. Aug 3, 2013 at 13:48
  • Made my day. I had a reference to a remote tag that the remote no longer existed. This is the only command that worked.
    – C4F
    Oct 4, 2018 at 18:19
  • I was bashing my head against "error: dst refspec main matches more than one" because I had a ref/head/main and a ref/heads/main due to a typo. Your answer saved my head.
    – Josh Dean
    May 5, 2022 at 17:47

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