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How to fix Error: Cannot squash without a previous commit?

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Git is one of the best software versioning and collaborative coding tools out there. That said, it isn’t exactly the easiest thing to pick up, especially considering the amount of complexity the tool offers when used in production environments. 

In this article, we’re talking about the “error: cannot squash without a previous commit” issue, its causes and how you can fix the problem.

What causes the problem?

The error can be triggered by a number of problems including:

  • Incorrect HEAD option.
  • Incorrect target commit
  • Improper logs in your Git commit history. 

Also read: How to create a Git repository? How to connect it to GitHub?

How to fix this?

Here are three fixes you can try out.

Restart your PC

This should be especially helpful if you’re on Windows. Rebooting your PC can fix all sorts of seemingly random issues with your programs and scripts as it often refreshes the entire operating system meaning corrupt caches and system memory are cleared. 

Use the correct HEAD option

When squasing a commit, be sure to use the appropriate HEAD option. Depends on when was your first commit, you might want to use a higher HEAD option or even –root. 

The general syntax to squash a commit using the HEAD option is as follows:

git rebase -i HEAD~X

X in the aforementioned command is the HEAD number your commit requires.

Clean up your Git logs

Another thing you can do is to clean up your Git logs. By doing so, you ensure that Git can see your commit history clearly and not missing anything imporatnt required to squash the required commit.

You can do this by using the -r option for reword. This uses the same commit, but edits the commit message which makes it easier for Git to differentiate between similar older commits. 

Also read: GitHub vs Git vs GitLab vs Bitbucket

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: