I often need to present myself differently in git per project. When I work on a client’s own github, and they provide me an email address, it’s more professional, and most of the time a requirement, to use it to identify myself. Git, by default lets me specify configuration globally, or per repository. However, with a little trick I can set it on any abstraction level I need.

The situation

Take the simplest example, that I need to change my email address across different git repositories. Imagine I have a folder structure:

  • Personal sandbox: where I’d like to use my personal address
  • Company level internal development: where I’d like to use my company address
  • One folder per each clients: where I’d like to use my vendor addresses

Each of these folders can contain many repositories, and the git config depends on the top level folder.

The problem is that I really don’t want to set up different email addresses per new repositories.

Let’s see what we can do about this.

We’ll dive in git config a bit.

# You can set up the single global email address
git config --global user.email "company_email@example.com"
# You can modify the configs per repository as well
git config user.email "name@company.com"

Git Include to the rescue

Git Includes give you a way to extend your git configurations by loading other files into them.

You can even do this conditionally with the includeIf directive.

You need to do 2 things:

  1. Define the gitconfig snippet with your favourite editor / command in the desired location.

    echo """[user]\n   email = personal_address@example.com""" >> ~/project_dir/personal/.gitconfig
  2. Extend your global git config conditionally at the end of the file

    [includeIf "gitdir:~/project_dir/personal/"]
        path = ~/project_dir/personal/.gitconfig

After this, every git repository anywhere under ~/project_dir/personal/ will see your email address as personal_address@example.com, based on ~/project_dir/personal/.gitconfig.

See what’s happening

You need to add an includeIf directive to your global git config file.

It needs to have a single parameter, to define for which git repositories should it add the snippet.

The parameter can start with a gitdir: keyword that tells git to test the location of the current repository, whether if matches the defined glob pattern. If it matches, then the snippet defined in the path param of the includeIf directive will be included.

You can have relative paths, but it will be relative to the current repo, NOT the global config file.

What if I use dotfiles

If you share your dotfiles in a public repository, I highly advise you NOT to share your different email addresses with the whole world.

Here’s where .gitignore and include can come in handy.


You can define a pattern for sensitive data in your gitignore file e.g. ignore all files that start with the sensitive prefix.

You need to remember to add these files when you set up a new machine.


And in your global gitconfig you can safely include your additional configs, where you define the extensions via includeIf directives.

    path = ~/dotfiles/git/sensitive-gitconfig

File locations

It’s up to you where you put the snippets. I prefer to keep them in the dotfiles repository. It’s also good to keep them near the repositories.

See what works for you the best.


I hope it will prevent you many headaches.

Happy coding!

Cover Photo by Ibolya Toldi from Pexels