5.7. Commit

The commit tool is second most commonly used application after the Workbench. Not only can the commit tool commit your changes, but it can also examine the state of your working directory and perform most routine maintenance tasks (add new files, detect renames, manage the ignore filter, etc).

Commit dialog

Commit dialog

5.7.1. Features

Enumerating the toolbar buttons:

Branch dialog
Shows the current branch name of the working directory. Normally this is informational only, but pressing this button opens up a branch maintenance dialog. Do not use this feature unless you understand Mercurial’s named branches.
Recent Commit Messages
A drop-down list of the 10 most recent commit messages. The the drop-down list is filled the first time it is opened.
Commit selected diffs in checked files.
Undo (rollback) last immediate commit. Your commit message will be available in the message history, so you can easily repeat the commit if necessary.

The file list has four columns:

  1. A checkbox that indicates whether the file is selected for an operation. The toolbar buttons only operate on checked files. “Partially” selected files have a special check state. This column header is checkable, it will toggle the file selection states.
  2. The st column holds the status of the file, defined by Mercurial’s status command, one of ‘MARD?IC’. A status of ‘S’ indicates a dirty subrepository that needs to be committed.
  3. The ms column holds the merge state of the file, defined by Mercurial’s resolve command, one of ‘ RU’. See the merge section below.
  4. The canonical path of the file relative to the repository root


If the commit tool was started with a file pattern or selection, a button will appear at the bottom of the file list that can clear the file pattern and give you an unfiltered view of the entire working directory.

The Status button has a menu with checkable options that toggle the display of the various classes of files {modified, added, removed, deleted, unknown, clean, ignored}.

Removed means a revisioned file has been marked as removed. Deleted means a revisioned file is missing but Mercurial has not been told to quit tracking that file. For instance, if you rename a revisioned file in Explorer, the original filename will show up as deleted and the new filename will show up as unknown. By right-clicking on the new filename you can bring up the rename guessing dialog which can discover the rename by comparing file contents and mark the old file as removed and the new file as added while recording the whole operation as a rename.

Unknown files are not tracked by Mercurial, but they also do not match any ignore filters you have configured. Unknown files are shown by default because they are usually files that need to be added to revision control. It is recommended that you keep your ignore filters up to date to ensure that is the case. The context menu of unknown files has an option open the ignore pattern tool.

Clean files are tracked files that have not been modified, while Ignored files are untracked files that match a configured ignore pattern. Neither of those file types are shown by default, unless a the user includes such a file in a selection (explorer) or provides the file name on the command line.

5.7.2. Change Selection

Change selection is the process of selecting which of the changes you have made to the working directory will be included in the next commit. The commit tool allows one to exclude modified (or added or removed) files from a commit, leaving them with their same state after the commit.

This somewhat violates Mercurial’s precept that each changeset describes the state of the repository at a single point in time. When you exclude files from the commit, the changeset you create may never have existed. But since file selection during commit is sometimes convenient, and is supported by Mercurial itself, our commit tool has supported this feature from its first release.

New in TortoiseHg 2.7, the commit tool now allows one to partially select modified files. This means you can now exclude a portion of the changes you have made to the file. This further violates Mercurial’s precept of committing the state of the working copy, but it is a very useful feature. The most commonly cited example is being able to check in a bug fix while excluding all your debug instrumentation so that you can continue debugging after the commit.

When the user has excluded one or more of the changes made to a file, TortoiseHg considers the file partially selected (and this change selection feature is sometimes referred to as partial commit). Partially selected files are displayed in the file list with a special partial check state.

The diff view pane has a context menu option for configuring the marking of excluded changes. Mark excluded changes toggles a strike-through indicator on excluded changes. This setting is primarily a personal preference, but future versions of TortoiseHg may extend the use of the strike-through indicator for partial exclusion of individual changes.

This new partial selection feature is similar to hgtk’s chunk selection, but is superior in several ways:

  1. Change selection is integrated directly into the diff view. No mode switch is required.
  2. The working copy files are not modified during partial commit. This avoids serious file permission problems on Windows.
  3. Change selection is possible for copied or renamed files, with one exception. You cannot exclude all of the changes because this excludes the entire file from the commit.

TortoiseHg has had a shelve tool since version 2.0 which can move selected changes from the working directory to a patch (or between patches) but the partial commit feature is very different in that it never modifies the working copy files. All it is doing is excluding a portion of your changes from the version of the file which is committed to the repository. After the commit, all of your excluded changes will still remain in the working copy.

When the commit button is pressed, the commit tool checks if any of the checked files are partially excluded. If any such partial commits are required, the commit tool builds a temporary patch file which describes how to generate the contents of the partially excluded files and passes that patch file to TortoiseHg’s partial commit extension. This extension triggers Mercurial’s commit command with special hooks so that the partial commit file contents come from patched tempfiles instead of being read from the working copy. After the commit the temporary files and patch are deleted but the working copy files are completely untouched.

5.7.3. Keyboard navigation

Trigger the commit
Reflow the paragraph currently under the cursor. You must configure a message format policy for this shortcut to work.

5.7.4. File Context Menus

When right clicking on files in the file list, you will get a context menu of commands that are applicable to the selected files.

For unknown ? files, the context menu will allow you to detect renames (if you think the unknown file is a copy or rename of a revisioned file) or to configure the repository’s ignore filter (if the unknown file should never be revisioned and you want Mercurial to ignore it).

5.7.5. Merging

The commit tool has a special mode when it is opened in a repository that is in a merged state (either a merge is in progress, or an update was performed that caused a conflict).

The merge state ms column is especially useful in this mode. Files that are marked with R are files where Mercurial and/or the user have successfully merged (resolved) changes from both parents. Files that are marked with U have unresolved changes. You can use the Restart Merge context menu option to restart the merge for those files, or you can use the edit context menu option to resolve the conflict by hand. The Restart Merge menu option allows you to select the merge tool to use to perform the merge, or even to pick one version or the other unconditionally (internal:local, internal:other). After the conflicts have been manually resolved, you must use the mark resolved context menu option to change the file’s merge state to R.

Mercurial will not allow you to commit a merge if any files have unresolved U merge states.

For your reference, local is the revision you had checked out when you started the merge and other is the revision you merged with.

To undo a failed merge attempt, you must tell Mercurial to remove the second parent from your working directory. This usually means performing a clean update of the first parent. The merge tool has an Undo button which does exactly that.

Once you have your working directory back at one parent revision, you may restart the merge process.

5.7.6. Commit Message Pane

The commit message pane has these special context menu options:

Paste Filenames:
Paste checked filenames into the commit message at the cursor.
Apply Format:
Apply configured message wrap policy to current message.
Configure Format:
Opens the settings dialog to the Commit tab.

If your project has guidelines for the format of commit messages, you can configure them in the settings tool. The commit tool will enforce your policy at commit time, and you can ask the tool to apply the format to the current message. The Commit tab of the settings tool has these two configurables for commit message policy:

Summary Line Length:
Maximum length of the commit message summary line. If set, TortoiseHg will draw a line at the specified width.

5.7.7. Subrepositories

A subrepository is a feature introduced in Mercurial 1.3. It allows one Mercurial repository to store references to external Mercurial (or potentially other VCS) repositories, and to include the state of those external repositories in the main repository’s history.

TortoiseHg 1.0 introduced rudimentary support for subrepositories, and only in the commit / status tool. When Mercurial considers a subrepo dirty, it will appear in the commit tool as a special entry in the file list with a status of S. If a subrepo is included in the file list of a commit, the subrepo is committed along with the other changes, updating the .hgsubstate file in the main repository root.

5.7.8. Configurables

Commit ‣ Username
Sets username associated with your commits (see A Quick Start Guide to TortoiseHg)
Commit ‣ Summary Line Length
Configures a ‘policy’ limit for summary lines
Commit ‣ Close After Commit:
When set to True, the commit tool will close after a successful commit.

And three other features for advanced users.

Commit ‣ Push After Commit:
If configured, the commit tool will try to push to the configured URL or alias after each commit.
Commit ‣ Auto Commit List:
Comma separated list of files that are automatically included in every commit. Intended for use only as a repository setting.
TortoiseHg ‣ Max Diff Size
Configures the diff size limit

5.7.9. From command line

The commit tool can be started from command line:

thg commit [OPTIONS] [FILE]...

aliases: ci

commit tool


 -u --user  record user as committer
 -d --date  record datecode as commit date

use "thg -v help commit" to show global options

For a quick help on the format of date type:

hg help dates