Displays references available in a local repository along with the associated commit IDs. Results can be filtered using a pattern and tags can be dereferenced into object IDs. Additionally, it can be used to test whether a particular ref exists.
By default, shows the tags, heads, and remote refs.
The --exclude-existing form is a filter that does the inverse. It reads refs from stdin, one ref per line, and shows those that don't exist in the local repository.
Use of this utility is encouraged in favor of directly accessing files under the .git directory.
To show all references called "master", whether tags or heads or anything else, and regardless of how deep in the reference naming hierarchy they are, use:
git show-ref master
This will show "refs/heads/master" but also "refs/remote/other-repo/master", if such references exists.
When using the --verify flag, the command requires an exact path:
git show-ref --verify refs/heads/master
will only match the exact branch called "master".
If nothing matches, git show-ref will return an error code of 1, and in the case of verification, it will show an error message.
For scripting, you can ask it to be quiet with the "--quiet" flag, which allows you to do things like
git show-ref --quiet --verify -- "refs/heads/$headname" || echo "$headname is not a valid branch"
to check whether a particular branch exists or not (notice how we don't actually want to show any results, and we want to use the full refname for it in order to not trigger the problem with ambiguous partial matches).
To show only tags, or only proper branch heads, use "--tags" and/or "--heads" respectively (using both means that it shows tags and heads, but not other random references under the refs/ subdirectory).
To do automatic tag object dereferencing, use the "-d" or "--dereference" flag, so you can do
git show-ref --tags --dereference
to get a listing of all tags together with what they dereference.
git-for-each-ref(1), git-ls-remote(1), git-update-ref(1), gitrepository-layout(5)