git rm – fatal: pathspec did not match any files


I added over 9000 photos by accident to my project folder. And committed them. Then deleted them from disk. Committed.

Now I try to push changes to git server. But it takes too long and tries to send 12 Gb of data.

I checked files size on disk and see that really .git folder takes 12 Gb.

How to delete photos from there? I tried git rm, but fails:

Because I allready deleted them from disk, but they are still in .git folder.

I tried to add public/photos to .gitignore:

But no result.
Of course I could hard reset head to moment when I did not have so many junk photos in my project. But since that time i committed many times and made a lot changes in code.


In your case, use git filter-branch instead of git rm.

git rm will delete the files in the sense that they will not be tracked by git anymore, but that does not remove the old commit objects corresponding to those images, and so you will still be stuck with pushing the earlier commits which correspond to 12GB of images.

The git filter-branch, on the other hand, can remove those files from all the previous commits as well, thus doing away with the need to push any of them.

  1. Use the command
  2. After the filter branch is complete, verify that no unintended file was lost.
  3. Now add a .gitignore rule
  4. Now do a push

Check this, this and this for further help. Just to be on the safer side, I would suggest you create a backup copy of the repo on your system before going ahead with these instructions.

As for your orignial error message, it is happening because you already untracked them using git rm, and hence git is complaining because it can’t remove a file it isn’t tracking. Read more about this here.

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