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Branches are named pointers to revisions (just like they are in Git). You can move them without affecting the target revision's identity. Branches automatically move when revisions are rewritten (e.g. by jj rebase). You can pass a branch's name to commands that want a revision as argument. For example, jj new main will create a new revision on top of the "main" branch. Use jj branch list to list branches and jj branch to create, move, or delete branches. There is currently no concept of an active/current/checked-out branch.

Remotes and tracked branches

Jujutsu records the last seen position of a branch on each remote (just like Git's remote-tracking branches). This record is updated on every jj git fetch and jj git push of the branch. You can refer to the remembered remote branch positions with <branch name>@<remote name>, such as jj new main@origin. jj does not provide a way to manually edit these recorded positions.

A remote branch can be associated with a local branch of the same name. This is called a tracked remote branch. When you pull a tracked branch from a remote, any changes compared to the current record of the remote's state will be propagated to the corresponding local branch, which will be created if it doesn't exist already.

Details: how fetch pulls branches

Let's say you run jj git fetch --remote origin and, during the fetch, jj determines that the remote's "main" branch has been moved so that its target is now ahead of the local record in main@origin.

jj will then update main@origin to the new target. If main@origin is tracked, jj will also apply the change to the local branch main. If the local target has also been moved compared to main@origin (probably because you ran jj branch set main), then the two updates will be merged. If one is ahead of the other, then that target will become the new target. Otherwise, the local branch will become conflicted (see the "Conflicts" section below for details).

Most commands don't show the tracked remote branch if it has the same target as the local branch. The local branch (without @<remote name>) is considered the branch's desired target. Consequently, if you want to update a branch on a remote, you first update the branch locally and then push the update to the remote. If a local branch also exists on some remote but points to a different target there, jj log will show the branch name with an asterisk suffix (e.g. main*). That is meant to remind you that you may want to push the branch to some remote.

If you want to know the internals of branch tracking, consult the Design Doc.

Terminology summary

  • A remote branch is a branch ref on the remote. jj can find out its actual state only when it's actively communicating with the remote. However, jj does store the last-seen position of the remote branch; this is the commit jj show <branch name>@<remote name> would show. This notion is completely analogous to Git's "remote-tracking branches".
  • A tracked (remote) branch is defined above. You can make a remote branch tracked with the jj branch track command, for example.
  • A tracking (local) branch is the local branch that jj tries to keep in sync with the tracked remote branch. For example, after jj branch track mybranch@origin, there will be a local branch mybranch that's tracking the remote mybranch@origin branch. A local branch can track a branch of the same name on 0 or more remotes.

The notion of tracked branches serves a similar function to the Git notion of an "upstream branch". Unlike Git, a single local branch can be tracking remote branches on multiple remotes, and the names of the local and remote branches must match.

Manually tracking a branch

To track a branch permanently use jj branch track <branch name>@<remote name>. It will now be imported as a local branch until you untrack it or it is deleted on the remote.


$ # List all available branches, as we want our colleague's branch.
$ jj branch list --all
$ # Find the branch.
$ # [...]
$ # Actually track the branch.
$ jj branch track <branch name>@<remote name> # Example: jj branch track my-feature@origin
$ # From this point on, <branch name> will be imported when fetching from <remote name>.
$ jj git fetch --remote <remote name>
$ # A local branch <branch name> should have been created or updated while fetching.
$ jj new <branch name> # Do some local testing, etc.

Untracking a branch

To stop following a remote branch, you can jj branch untrack it. After that, subsequent fetches of that remote will no longer move the local branch to match the position of the remote branch.


$ # List all local and remote branches.
$ jj branch list --all
$ # Find the branch we no longer want to track.
$ # [...]
# # Actually untrack it.
$ jj branch untrack <branch name>@<remote name> # Example: jj branch untrack stuff@origin
$ # From this point on, this remote branch won't be imported anymore.
$ # The local branch (e.g. stuff) is unaffected. It may or may not still
$ # be tracking branches on other remotes (e.g. stuff@upstream).

Listing tracked branches

To list tracked branches, you can jj branch list --tracked or jj branch list -t. This command omits local Git-tracking branches by default.

You can see if a specific branch is tracked with jj branch list --tracked <branch name>.

Automatic tracking of branches & option

There are two situations where jj tracks branches automatically. jj git clone automatically sets up the default remote branch (e.g. main@origin) as tracked. When you push a local branch, the newly created branch on the remote is marked as tracked.

By default, every other remote branch is marked as "not tracked" when it's fetched. If desired, you need to manually jj branch track them. This works well for repositories where multiple people work on a large number of branches.

The default can be changed by setting the config = true. Then, jj git fetch tracks every newly fetched branch with a local branch. Branches that already existed before the jj git fetch are not affected. This is similar to Mercurial, which fetches all its bookmarks (equivalent to Git branches) by default.

Branch movement

Currently Jujutsu automatically moves local branches when these conditions are met:

  • When a commit has been rewritten (e.g, when you rebase) branches and the
    working-copy will move along with it.
  • When a commit has been abandoned, all associated branches will be moved to its parent(s). If a working copy was pointing to the abandoned commit, then a new working-copy commit will be created on top of the parent(s).

You could describe the movement as following along the change-id of the current branch commit, even if it isn't entirely accurate.

Pushing branches: Safety checks

Before jj git push actually moves, creates, or deletes a remote branch, it makes several safety checks.

  1. jj will contact the remote and check that the actual state of the remote branch matches jj's record of its last known position. If there is a conflict, jj will refuse to push the branch. In this case, you need to run jj git fetch --remote <remote name> and resolve the resulting branch conflict. Then, you can try jj git push again.

    If you are familiar with Git, this makes jj git push similar to git push --force-with-lease.

    There are a few cases where jj git push will succeed even though the remote branch is in an unexpected location. These are the cases where jj git fetch would not create a branch conflict and would not move the local branch, e.g. if the unexpected location is identical to the local position of the branch.

  2. The local branch must not be conflicted. If it is, you would need to use jj branch set, for example, to resolve the conflict.

    This makes jj git push safe even if jj git fetch is performed on a timer in the background (this situation is a known issue1 with some forms of git push --force-with-lease). If the branch moves on a remote in a problematic way, jj git fetch will create a conflict. This should ensure that the user becomes aware of the conflict before they can jj git push and override the branch on the remote.

  3. If the remote branch already exists on the remote, it must be tracked. If the branch does not already exist on the remote, there is no problem; jj git push will create the remote branch and mark it as tracked.


Branches can end up in a conflicted state. When that happens, jj status will include information about the conflicted branches (and instructions for how to mitigate it). jj branch list will have details. jj log will show the branch name with a double question mark suffix (e.g. main??) on each of the conflicted branch's potential target revisions. Using the branch name to look up a revision will resolve to all potential targets. That means that jj new main will error out, complaining that the revset resolved to multiple revisions.

Both local branches (e.g. main) and the remote branch (e.g. main@origin) can have conflicts. Both can end up in that state if concurrent operations were run in the repo. The local branch more typically becomes conflicted because it was updated both locally and on a remote.

To resolve a conflicted state in a local branch (e.g. main), you can move the branch to the desired target with jj branch. You may want to first either merge the conflicted targets with jj merge, or you may want to rebase one side on top of the other with jj rebase.

To resolve a conflicted state in a remote branch (e.g. main@origin), simply pull from the remote (e.g. jj git fetch). The conflict resolution will also propagate to the local branch (which was presumably also conflicted).