How to use a global .gitignore file

Today I learnt …

There are files that you essentially never want to commit to a Git repo. Files like the annoying .DS_Store that MacOS sprinkles liberally across your hard drive, for example. Or your personal IDE configuration (Visual Studio Code’s .vscode/ or JetBrains’s .idea/). Or local environment secrets in .env. The list goes on.

You can always include these files in each repo’s top-level .gitignore — a special file that tells Git which files you don’t want to track — but it’s easy to forget and hard to maintain across multiple projects. And it turns out there’s an easier way: Git allows you to define a global .gitignore file that lists the files that should be ignored in all your repos, old and new.

First, create a file named .gitignore in your home directory. (The file can be anywhere and named anything, but let’s stick with ~/.gitignore). Edit it so that it contains all the files you want to exclude from all your repos:


All that’s left is to tell Git where it can find your global config:

git config --global core.excludesfile ~/.gitignore

If you want to add or remove any files from your global exclusions list, just edit ~/.gitgnore and Git will use the updated list.

More details on what you can do with a .gitignore, global or local, in the Git documentation.