This answer only applies to Git version 1.x. For Git version 2.x, see other answers.


Summary:

  • git add -A stages all changes

  • git add . stages new files and modifications, without deletions

  • git add -u stages modifications and deletions, without new files


Detail:

git add -A is equivalent to git add .; git add -u.

The important point about git add . is that it looks at the working tree and adds all those paths to the staged changes if they are either changed or are new and not ignored, it does not stage any 'rm' actions.

git add -u looks at all the already tracked files and stages the changes to those files if they are different or if they have been removed. It does not add any new files, it only stages changes to already tracked files.

git add -A is a handy shortcut for doing both of those.

You can test the differences out with something like this (note that for Git version 2.x your output for git add . git status will be different):

git init
echo Change me > change-me
echo Delete me > delete-me
git add change-me delete-me
git commit -m initial

echo OK >> change-me
rm delete-me
echo Add me > add-me

git status
# Changed but not updated:
#   modified:   change-me
#   deleted:    delete-me
# Untracked files:
#   add-me

git add .
git status

# Changes to be committed:
#   new file:   add-me
#   modified:   change-me
# Changed but not updated:
#   deleted:    delete-me

git reset

git add -u
git status

# Changes to be committed:
#   modified:   change-me
#   deleted:    delete-me
# Untracked files:
#   add-me

git reset

git add -A
git status

# Changes to be committed:
#   new file:   add-me
#   modified:   change-me
#   deleted:    delete-me