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Automatically Commit changed Files back to GitHub with GitHub Actions for the 80% use case.

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git-auto-commit Action

The GitHub Action for committing files for the 80% use case.

Public workflows that use this action.

A GitHub Action to detect changed files during a Workflow run and to commit and push them back to the GitHub repository. By default, the commit is made in the name of "GitHub Actions" and co-authored by the user that made the last commit.

If you want to learn more how this Action works under the hood, check out this article by Michael Heap.


Add the following step at the end of your job, after other steps that might add or change files.

- uses: stefanzweifel/[email protected]

Note that the Action has to be used in a Job that runs on a UNIX system (eg.

). If you don't use the default permission of the GITHUB_TOKEN, give the Job or Workflow at least the
contents: write

The following is an extended example with all possible options available for this Action.

- uses: stefanzweifel/[email protected]
    # Optional, but recommended
    # Defaults to "Apply automatic changes"
    commit_message: Automated Change

# Optional branch name where commit should be pushed to.
# Defaults to the current branch.
branch: feature-123

# Optional. Used by `git-commit`.
# See
commit_options: '--no-verify --signoff'

# Optional glob pattern of files which should be added to the commit
# Defaults to all (.)
# See the `pathspec`-documentation for git
# -
# -
file_pattern: src/*.js tests/*.js *.php

# Optional local file path to the repository
# Defaults to the root of the repository
repository: .

# Optional commit user and author settings
commit_user_name: My GitHub Actions Bot # defaults to "GitHub Actions"
commit_user_email: [email protected] # defaults to "[email protected]"
commit_author: Author <actions> # defaults to author of the commit that triggered the run

# Optional tag message 
# Action will create and push a new tag to the remote repository and the defined branch
tagging_message: 'v1.0.0'

# Optional. Used by `git-status`
# See
status_options: '--untracked-files=no'

# Optional. Used by `git-add`
# See
add_options: '-u'

# Optional. Used by `git-push`
# See
push_options: '--force'

# Optional. Disable dirty check and always try to create a commit and push
skip_dirty_check: true    

# Optional. Skip internal call to `git fetch`
skip_fetch: true    

# Optional. Prevents the shell from expanding filenames. 
# Details:
disable_globbing: true

Please note that the Action depends on

. If you're using the Action in a job in combination with a custom Docker container, make sure that
is installed.

Example Workflow

In this example, we're running

in a PHP project to fix the codestyle automatically, then commit possible changed files back to the repository.

Note that we explicitly specify

${{ github.head_ref }}
in the checkout Action. This is required in order to work with the
event (or any other non-
name: php-cs-fixer

on: pull_request: push: branches: - "main"

jobs: php-cs-fixer: runs-on: ubuntu-latest

- uses: actions/[email protected]
    ref: ${{ github.head_ref }}

- name: Run php-cs-fixer
  uses: docker://oskarstark/php-cs-fixer-ga

- uses: stefanzweifel/[email protected]
    commit_message: Apply php-cs-fixer changes



for a full list of supported inputs.


You can use these outputs to trigger other Actions in your Workflow run based on the result of

  • changes_detected
    : Returns either "true" or "false" if the repository was dirty and files have changed.
  • commit_hash
    : Returns the full hash of the commit if one was created.


  - name: "Run if changes have been detected"
    if: == 'true'
    run: echo "Changes!"

  • name: "Run if no changes have been detected" if: == 'false' run: echo "No Changes!"

Limitations & Gotchas

The goal of this Action is to be "the Action for committing files for the 80% use case". Therefore you might run into issues if your Workflow falls into the not supported 20% portion.

The following is a list of edge cases the Action knowingly does not support:


git pull
when the repository is out of the date with remote. The will not do a

git pull
before doing the
git push
. You are responsible for keeping the repository up to date in your Workflow runs.

No support for running the Action in build matrices. For example, if your Workflow is using build matrices, and you want that each job commits and pushes files to the remote, you will run into the issue, that the repository in the workflow will become out of date. As the Action will not do a

git pull
for you, you have to do that yourself.

No support for

git rebase
git merge
. There are many strategies on how to integrate remote upstream changes to a local repository.

does not want to be responsible for doing that.

If this Action doesn't work for your workflow, check out EndBug/add-and-commit.

Checkout the correct branch

You must use

action/[email protected]
or later versions to checkout the repository. In non-
events, such as
, make sure to specify the
to checkout:
- uses: actions/[email protected]
    ref: ${{ github.head_ref }}

You have to do this to avoid that the

-Action clones your repository in a detached state.

Commits made by this Action do not trigger new Workflow runs

The resulting commit will not trigger another GitHub Actions Workflow run. This is due to limitations set by GitHub.

When you use the repository's GITHUBTOKEN to perform tasks on behalf of the GitHub Actions app, events triggered by the GITHUBTOKEN will not create a new workflow run. This prevents you from accidentally creating recursive workflow runs.

You can change this by creating a new Personal Access Token (PAT), storing the token as a secret in your repository and then passing the new token to the

Action step.

- uses: actions/[email protected]
    token: ${{ secrets.PAT }}

If you work in an organization and don't want to create a PAT from your personal account, we recommend using a robot account for the token.

Advanced Uses

Use in forks from public repositories

☝️ Important Notice: This Action technically works with forks. However, please note that the combination of triggers and their options can cause issues. Please read the documentation on which triggers GitHub Actions support.
If you use this Action in combination with a linter/fixer, it's easier if you run the Action on push on your main-branch.

By default, this Action will not run on Pull Requests which have been opened by forks. (This is a limitation by GitHub, not by us.)

If you want that a Workflow using this Action runs on Pull Requests opened by forks, 2 things have to be changed:

  1. In addition to listening to the pull_request event in your Workflow triggers, you have to add an additional event: pull_request_target. You can learn more about this event in the GitHub docs.
  2. GitHub Action has to be enabled on the forked repository.
    For security reasons, GitHub does not automatically enable GitHub Actions on forks. The user has to explicitly enable GitHub Actions in the "Actions"-tab of the forked repository. (Mention this in your projects README or!)

After you have added the pull_request_target to your desired Workflow and the forked repository has enabled Actions and a new Pull Request is opened, the Workflow will run on the forked repository.

Due to the fact that the Workflow is not run on the repository the Pull Request is opened in, you won't see any status indicators inside the Pull Request.


The following workflow runs php-cs-fixer (a code linter and fixer for PHP) when a pull_request is opened. We've added the pull_request_target-trigger too, to make it work for forks.

name: Format PHP

on: [push, pull_request, pull_request_target]

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    - uses: actions/[email protected]

    - name: Run php-cs-fixer
      uses: docker://oskarstark/php-cs-fixer-ga

    - uses: stefanzweifel/[email protected]
        commit_message: Apply php-cs-fixer changes

Next time a user forks your project and enabled GitHub Actions and opened a Pull Request, the Workflow will run on the the forked repository and will push commits to the same branch.

Here's how the Pull Request will look like:

Screenshot of a Pull Request from a Fork

As you can see, your contributors have to go through hoops to make this work. For Workflows which run linters and fixers (like the example above) we recommend running them when a push happens on the main-branch.

For more information about running Actions on forks, see this announcement from GitHub.

Push to forks from private repositories

By default, GitHub Actions doesn't run Workflows on forks from private repositories. To enable Actions for private repositories enable "Run workflows from pull requests" in your repository settings.

See this announcement from GitHub or the GitHub docs for details.

Signing Commits & Other Git Command Line Options

Using command lines options needs to be done manually for each workflow which you require the option enabled. So for example signing commits requires you to import the gpg signature each and every time. The following list of actions are worth checking out if you need to automate these tasks regulary.

Using `--amend` and `--no-edit` as commit options

If you would like to use this Action to create a commit using --amend and --no-edit you need to make some adjustments.

☝️ Important Notice: You should understand the implications of rewriting history if you amend a commit that has already been published. See rebasing

First, you need to extract the previous commit message by using git log -1 --pretty=%s. Then you need to provide this last commit message to the Action through the commit_message input option.

Finally, you have to use push_options: '--force' to overwrite the git history on the GitHub remote repository. (git-auto-commit will not do a git-rebase for you!)

The steps in your workflow might look like this:

- uses: actions/[email protected]
    # Fetch the last 2 commits instead of just 1. (Fetching just 1 commit would overwrite the whole history)
    fetch-depth: 2

# Other steps in your workflow to trigger a changed file

- name: Get last commit message
  id: last-commit-message
  run: |
    echo "::set-output name=msg::$(git log -1 --pretty=%s)"

- uses: stefanzweifel/[email protected]
    commit_message: ${{ steps.last-commit-message.outputs.msg }}
    commit_options: '--amend --no-edit'
    push_options: '--force'
    skip_fetch: true

See discussion in #159 for details.


Action does not push commit to repository

Make sure to checkout the correct branch.

Action does not push commit to repository: Authentication Issue

If your Workflow can't push the commit to the repository because of authentication issues, please update your Workflow configuration and usage of


Updating the

value with a Personal Access Token should fix your issues.

Push to protected branches

If your repository uses protected branches you have to make some changes to your Workflow for the Action to work properly: You need a Personal Access Token and you either have to allow force pushes or the Personal Acess Token needs to belong to an Administrator.

First, you have to create a new Personal Access Token (PAT), store the token as a secret in your repository and pass the new token to the

Action step.

- uses: actions/[email protected]
    token: ${{ secrets.PAT }}

You can learn more about Personal Access Token in the GitHub documentation.

Note: If you're working in an organisation and you don't want to create the PAT from your personal account, we recommend using a bot-account for such tokens.

If you go the "force pushes" route, you have to enable force pushes to a protected branch (See documentation) and update your Workflow to use force push like this.

    - uses: stefanzweifel/[email protected]
        commit_message: Apply php-cs-fixer changes
        push_options: --force

No new workflows are triggered by the commit of this action

This is due to limitations set up by GitHub, commits of this Action do not trigger new Workflow runs.

Running the tests

The package has tests written in bats. Before you can run the test suite locally, you have to install the dependencies with

npm install

You can run the test suite with

npm run test
yarn test


We use SemVer for versioning. For the versions available, see the tags on this repository.

We also provide major version tags to make it easier to always use the latest release of a major version. For example you can use

stefanzweifel/[email protected]
to always use the latest release of the current major version. (More information about this here.)


This Action has been inspired and adapted from the auto-commit-Action of the Canadian Digital Service and this commit-Action by Eric Johnson.


This project is licensed under the MIT License - see the LICENSE file for details.

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