Copying a single file from one Git repo to another Git repo while maintaining commit history

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Yesterday at work I had a need to copy a single from an existing Git repository to a newly created Git repository while maintaining all of the commit history associated with this file. I did some Googling around and the most straight forward solution I came across was described on the following page: (thank you!)

I wanted to simplify the steps even further and add a bit more explanation. Here goes.

1) Let's say that you want to copy hello.txt from a repo called existing-repo (Located at: ~/existing-repo) to new-repo (Located at: ~/new-repo).

2) Create a temporary directory (let's call it temporary-patches) where all of temporary Git patch files that are created as a result of this process will be located.

cd ~/

mkdir temporary-patches

3) Change directory to existing-repo and generate patch files that contain the commit history of the file that you would like to move:

cd ~/existing-repo

git format-patch -o ~/temporary-patches $(git log ~/existing-repo/hello.txt|grep ^commit|tail -1|awk '{print $2}') ~/existing-repo/hello.txt

Note that if the file you're wanting to copy is a file that was made as a part of the initial commit of the existing repository - you'll run into like the following:

fatal: ambiguous argument '140f6efe94bfe9552474097cd0c658c94a292f46^..HEAD': unknown revision or path not in the working tree.

See one of the comments on that describes how to handle this situation (Do a text search for "This does not work if the file was made in the initial commit").

4) Change directory to new-repo and then apply the patch files that were generated as a result of the above command:

cd ~/new-repo

git am ~/temporary-patches/*.patch

If you run into an error here, chances are good that you've got 1 or more uncommitted changes in your current branch. An error I came across was the following:

fatal: previous rebase directory .git/rebase-apply still exists but mbox given.

5) Confirm that the commit history has been preserved after the file was moved.

git log hello.txt

6) When you do a git status you'll see that there is nothing for you to commit. All done!

****EDIT on 9/25/2016****

I recently had to do this (copying files from one Git repo to another Git repo while maintaining history) again and ran across the issue I noted in step #3 above. Here's what I ended up doing:

cd ~/existing-repo

git format-patch -o ~/temporary-patches --root [Git commit hash of the very first commit] ~/existing-repo/hello.txt

git format-patch -o ~/temporary-patches $(git log ~/existing-repo/hello.txt|grep ^commit|tail -1|awk '{print $2}') ~/existing-repo/hello.txt

cd ~/temporary-patches

mv 0001-Very-first-commit.patch 0000-Very-first-commit.patch
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