Using Git on the command line is fine, but for some people, it’s less than ideal. While simple commits are fine in the terminal, looking at extended diffs or other data isn’t always ideal. If you’re looking for a graphical Git client, you’re in luck. The only problem is deciding which one to choose.
There are a bunch of GUI Git clients available for the Mac, but we’ve gathered together a few that should be on the top of your list. Before you start trying out clients randomly, give a few of these a shot.
1. GitHub Desktop
If you mainly use Git to interact with GitHub repositories, then GitHub’s own client should be one of your first choices. Despite being called GitHub Desktop, this app can also work with repositories on GitLab, Bitbucket, and other places. This requires cloning the repo from the command line first, but it’s still handy if you mainly use GitHub.
GitHub Desktop features editor and shell integrations to make it easy to work with your other apps. It also makes viewing diffs and other data easy, especially compared to working on the command line. The app is also free, which makes it an attractive option.
Fork’s developers describe the app as a “fast and friendly” Git client. It offers a simple-looking interface, but underneath this you’ll find some powerful features.
The basics are all covered: cloning, fetching, pulling, and pushing. You can also merge and rebase easily via the app. In the app’s Commit view you can stage and unstage changes line by line, which can come in handy. When it comes to rebasing, you can edit and reorder commits interactively, another powerful feature.
Fork’s advanced diff viewer lets you easily spot changes between commits and even allows you to see diffs for common image formats. Fork is available for macOS 10.11 and up and is available as a free download.
Tower has gained a reputation for being one of the more powerful GUI Git clients. It is powerful, but Tower’s developers also boast how easy the app is to use. Tower lets you undo any Git action, including reverting commits, recovering deleted commits, and restoring deleted branches.
Anyone who has ever had to deal with resolving Git merge conflicts knows it isn’t fun. Tower lets you approach this visually, making it much easier to see where problems lie. Even if you’re a beginner, Tower’s step-by-step documentation makes it easy to get started. This is a major boon if you’re new to Git.
You can start using Tower for free, but to continue using it, you’ll need to pay for a subscription. The Basic subscription costs $69 per user per year. The Pro subscription, which includes basic team management features, costs $99 per year. For more information, see the Tower website.
Sourcetree is developed by Atlassian, who you might also know as the company behind Bitbucket. Despite this, Sourcetree isn’t specific to Bitbucket the way GitHub Desktop is specific to GitHub.
Though Sourcetree is available for free, it has some team-focused features that you’d have to pay for in other apps. For example, Sourcetree features Git Large File Support, allowing teams to track large assets all in one place. It’s also more than a Git client, with built-in support for Mercurial repositories right out of the box.
Sourcetree also offers many of the other features you’d expect from a graphical Git client, allowing you to visualize commit histories and merges easily. For more information, see the Sourcetree website.
5. Sublime Merge
Sublime Text is one of the best code editor apps available for Mac. With that in mind, it makes sense that Sublime Merge from the same developer is a fantastic Git client.
If you’ve used Sublime Text before, the user interface of Sublime Merge will instantly be familiar. The app uses this to good effect, too, with a three-way merge tool, side-by-side diffs, and powerful search. As you might expect, Sublime Merge also features excellent syntax highlighting.
As with Sublime Text, you can evaluate Sublime Merge for free but need to purchase a license for extended use. The app isn’t cheap at $99, but if Sublime Text’s update history is anything to go by, that price will get you years of updates.
The above clients should have enough to offer that all but the heaviest Git users can find something to like. If you also use Linux, be sure to check out our list of the best Git clients for Linux.