Git List Tags — How To Show All Tags For Local and Remote Repositories

Git List Tags — How To Show All Tags For Local and Remote Repositories

Navigating the labyrinth of a software development project can be daunting. Juggling multiple versions of your software and tracking crucial points in your project’s timeline, both locally and on remote repositories, can lead to chaos. However, Git tags emerge as a beacon of hope in this chaos.

Git tags are a potent tool in the Git version control system, enabling you to earmark specific points in your project’s history as significant, typically to denote project releases. This feature can be invaluable when managing intricate projects, offering a clear roadmap of your software’s evolution.

This guide will delve into the world of Git tags. We will explore their essence, their function, and most importantly, how to list all local and remote Git tags. So, whether you’re an experienced developer or a newbie, sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s demystify Git tags together.

TL;DR: What are Git tags and how do I list them?

Git tags are markers in the Git version control system that denote specific points in your project’s history as significant, typically to indicate project releases. You can list all local Git tags using the git tag command, and for remote Git tags, use the git fetch --tags followed by the git tag -l command. For more advanced methods, background, tips and tricks, continue reading the article.

What are Git tags? At their core, Git tags are pointers that highlight specific points in your Git repository’s timeline. They act as bookmarks, earmarking key milestones or releases. This functionality allows you to navigate through various stages of your project without the need to recall specific commit hashes.

Types of Git Tags

Git tags come in two forms – Annotated and Lightweight. Annotated tags are stored as complete objects in the Git database, accompanied by a separate log, author, date, and tag message. These tags resemble mini commits that you can utilize to store additional information about the historical point they represent.

Lightweight tags, in contrast, are simpler. They are mere references to a specific commit, devoid of the additional information like a log, author, or date. These tags are quick and easy to create when there’s no need for extra information storage.

Example of creating Annotated and Lightweight tags:

git tag -a v1.0 -m 'my version 1.0'
git tag v1.0-light

You can view all the tags you’ve created in your repository by using this command:

git tag

Executing this command in your terminal will list out all the tags in your repository in alphabetical order.

Importance of Git Tags

Why are Git tags vital? They serve a critical role in version control. By tagging specific points in your project’s history, you can effortlessly track different versions of your software. This becomes especially beneficial when you’re working on a large project with a team of developers. Git tags enable quick identification of the software version each commit belongs to.

Example of identifying a software version using tags:

git show v1.0

Consider Git tags as a project timeline. They provide an overview of your project’s journey, marking the significant milestones along the path. This functionality eases the tracking of your project’s progress, identification of any issues, and future development planning.

Having grasped the concept and purpose of Git tags, let’s delve into the process of listing all Git tags for both local and remote repositories. Why is this crucial?

Imagine a team spread across different time zones, diligently creating tags for each software version. The challenge lies in tracking these tags and ensuring everyone is working on the correct version. This is where listing all Git tags becomes vital.

Local TagsRemote Tags
git taggit fetch –tags && git tag -l

Importance of Listing Git Tags

Listing all Git tags offers a comprehensive view of your software versions. It facilitates quick identification of the latest version, ensuring team alignment. Furthermore, it provides a snapshot of your project’s history, aiding in progress tracking and future development planning.

Listing Local and Remote Git Tags

Listing Local Git Tags

Listing all local Git tags is a straightforward process. Open your terminal and execute the git tag command. This command lists all the tags in your local repository in alphabetical order.

If you prefer them in reverse order, use the -r option:

git tag -l -r

Listing Remote Git Tags

What about remote repositories? How do we list all remote Git tags? The first step is to fetch all the tags from the remote repository using the git fetch --tags command. Post fetching, you can list all the remote tags using the git tag -l command:

git fetch --tags
git tag -l

In essence, leveraging Git’s ability to list all tags is akin to possessing a crystal ball. It offers a clear view of your project’s past, present, and future, assisting you in navigating the often tumultuous waters of software development.

Viewing Tag Data

To view tag data, employ the git show command followed by the tag name. For instance, git show v1.0 will exhibit the data associated with the ‘v1.0’ tag.

This data includes the tagger name, email, date, and message, as well as the commit the tag points to. This command is a convenient way to get a snapshot of a specific point in your project’s history.

Example of viewing tag data:

git show v1.0

Creating Annotated and Lightweight Tags

Creating Annotated Tags

Annotated tags are the more detailed variant, storing additional information such as the tagger name, email, and date. To create an annotated tag, use the git tag -a command followed by the tag name and the commit id. For instance,

git tag -a v1.0 -m 'my version 1.0'

The -m flag allows you to add a message to your tag. Upon executing this command, an annotated tag named ‘v1.0’ will be created at the specified commit.

Creating Lightweight Tags

Lightweight tags are simpler. They merely point to a specific commit, without any extra information. To create a lightweight tag, use the git tag command followed by the tag name. For example,

git tag v1.0-light

This command creates a lightweight tag named ‘v1.0-light’ at the current commit.

Choosing Between Annotated and Lightweight Tags

The choice between the two depends on your needs. Annotated tags, akin to mini-commits, store extra information about the tag, making them ideal for marking major releases or milestones. Lightweight tags, being simpler and quicker to create, are perfect for temporary markers or minor points of interest.

Regardless of the type of tag you use, it’s crucial to fetch and list your remote tags regularly. This practice ensures that your local environment is synchronized with the remote repository, keeping your project on track.

Other Tagging Functions

Tagging Old Commits

What if you need to tag an old commit? Perhaps you neglected to tag a major release, or you’ve just realized the significance of a past commit. Git has a solution for this too.

To tag an old commit, you first need to locate the commit’s checksum. This checksum is a unique identifier that Git assigns to each commit. You can find this by using the git log command, which displays the commit history. Once you have the checksum, you can create a tag at that commit using the git tag command, as we discussed in the previous section.

In essence, viewing tag data and tagging old commits are potent tools in your Git toolkit. They empower you to delve deep into your project’s history, offering a clear and detailed picture of your project’s evolution. So, don’t hesitate to dive in and explore the depths of your Git repository. You might uncover treasures you never knew existed.

Pushing Tags

Pushing tags to a server is a straightforward process. The git push origin <tagname> command is used to push a specific tag to the server. For example, git push origin v1.0 will push the ‘v1.0’ tag to the server.

But what if you have multiple tags to push? Is it necessary to push them individually? Not at all! Git enables you to push multiple tags simultaneously using the git push origin --tags command. This command pushes all your tags to the server, eliminating the need for individual pushes.

Example of pushing multiple tags simultaneously:

git push origin --tags

Checking Out Tags

Now, let’s discuss checking out to a tag. This process allows you to switch to the state of your project at a specific tag. The git checkout <tagname> command is used for this. For example, git checkout v1.0 will switch your working directory to the state of the project at the ‘v1.0’ tag.

Remember that when you checkout to a tag, you’re in a ‘detached HEAD’ state. This means any changes you make won’t be reflected in your branches. Hence, it’s advisable to create a new branch if you plan to make changes.

The Prune Option in Git

An important feature to note is the --prune option in Git. This option removes any remote-tracking references (like tags) that no longer exist on the remote repository. It’s a useful way to maintain a clean and up-to-date local environment with the remote repository.

Sorting Tags

Having covered the creation, listing, pushing, and checking out of Git tags, let’s now explore Git’s ability to sort tags.

Indeed, Git provides three distinct ways to sort your tags: by refname (alphabetical order), by version number, and by creation time.

This flexibility enables you to customize your tag navigation according to your preferred sorting method, greatly enhancing your efficiency and user experience.

Sorting Tags by Refname

To sort your Git tags by refname, use the git tag --sort=-refname command. This command lists all your tags in reverse alphabetical order. For alphabetical order, simply use the git tag --sort=refname command.

Example of sorting tags by refname:

git tag --sort=refname

Sorting Tags by Version Number

To sort your Git tags by version number, use the git tag --sort=-version:refname command. This command lists all your tags in reverse version order. For version order, use the git tag --sort=version:refname command.

Example of sorting tags by version number:

git tag --sort=version:refname

Sorting Tags by Creation Time

To sort your Git tags by creation time, use the git tag --sort=-creatordate command. This command lists all your tags in reverse chronological order based on their creation date. For chronological order, use the git tag --sort=creatordate command.

Example of sorting tags by creation time:

git tag --sort=creatordate

Sorting Tags Based on Latest Git Activity

What if you want to sort your Git tags based on their latest Git activity? Git has a solution for this too. You can use the git tag --sort=committerdate command to sort your tags based on the date of their latest commit.

Example of sorting tags based on latest Git activity:

git tag --sort=committerdate

This is particularly useful when you’re working on a large project with multiple developers and want to keep track of the latest changes.

In essence, understanding and utilizing these various sorting options can significantly improve your code readability and navigation. It enables you to swiftly locate the tag you’re seeking, making your project management more efficient.


Navigating a software development project can often feel like finding your way through a maze. However, with Git tags at your disposal, this journey becomes significantly smoother.

Acting as milestones in your project’s timeline, Git tags mark critical points in your project’s history, helping keep track of different software versions and ensuring team alignment.

In this guide, we’ve traversed a vast landscape of Git tags. We’ve delved into their definition, the distinction between annotated and lightweight tags, and their crucial role in version control. We’ve explored how to list, create, push, and checkout Git tags for both local and remote repositories. We’ve also discussed viewing tag data, tagging old commits, and sorting Git tags.

Git tags are more than mere markers. They embody a project timeline, a version control system, and a navigation tool all in one. They offer a snapshot of your project’s history, facilitating progress tracking and future development planning. Furthermore, they enhance code readability and navigation, simplifying project management.

Whether you’re a seasoned developer or a novice, don’t hesitate to use Git tags. Embrace them, explore their potential, and witness how they transform your project management experience.