Always Exclude File(s) From Diff

Posted by Grego on September 14, 2016

Sometimes there are files that you commit into your git repo that you don’t to show up in a diff. One example could be text files that, while being text files, are still not human readable. When executing a diff from the command line using git diff it may be desirable to remove these files from showing in the diff.

Author Preferred Method

To do a permanent git diff exclude on one or more files:

  1. Create a git repo specific diff driver:

     git config diff.nodiff.command /bin/true

    In the absence of /bin/true, i.e., on OS X you can use /usr/bin/true or echo. As long as whatever you execute returns a truthy (0) exit code. If you want to make this change across the whole system, add the --global flag at the end.

  2. Assign the newly created nodiff driver to the file(s) you wish to exclude. This can be done in either the .git/info/attributes file, or if you’re feeling like you want to share this setting with the rest of the world you can add it into .gitattributes in the source root, either way it should look like this:

     example-file.xml    diff=nodiff

That’s it! Next time you run a git diff it will show you the diff of everything except the files listed in your attributes file as nodiff.

Alternative Method

If you want something quick for a one-off situation there’s the non-permanent alternative option of piping the diff output through filterdiff:

git diff | filterdiff -p 1 -x example-file.xml

I hate this one because it’s harder to remember the options. The -p and -x options are the same as those from diff. Read man diff for more info on diff and the options you can pass to filterdiff.


Read more on the original StackOverflow post.