git pull remote branch cannot find remote ref

I'm not sure why this doesn't work. When I do git branch -a, this is what I see:

I'm trying to pull from the DownloadManager on the online GitHub repository. I have tried

  • git pull, but then it complains about not knowing which branch to pull from
  • git pull origin, doesn't know which branch
  • git pull origin downloadmanager fatal: Couldn't find remote ref downloadmanager. Unexpected end of commands stream
  • git pull origin remotes/origin/DownloadManager 'fatal couldn't find remote ref remotes/origin/DownloadManager. Unexpected end of commands stream

Is there something I'm missing? In Xcode, When I try to connect to the repository, nothing ever shows up. I have been able to push to it in the past. But I can't push again until I pull the most recent changes.


Be careful - you have case mixing between local and remote branch!

Suppose you are in local branch downloadmanager now (git checkout downloadmanager)

You have next options:

  1. Specify remote branch in pull/push commands every time (case sensitive):

    git pull origin DownloadManager


    git pull origin downloadmanager:DownloadManager

  1. Specify tracking branch on next push:

    git push -u origin DownloadManager

    (-u is a short form of --set-upstream)

    this will persist downloadmanager:DownloadManager link in config automatically (same result, as the next step).

  1. Set in git config default remote tracking branch:

    git branch -u downloadmanager origin/DownloadManager

    (note, since git 1.8 for branch command -u is a short form of --set-upstream-to, which is a bit different from deprecated --set-upstream)

    or edit config manually (I prefer this way):

    git config --local -e

    -> This will open editor. Add block below (guess, after "master" block):

    [branch "downloadmanager"]
            remote = origin
            merge = refs/heads/DownloadManager

and after any of those steps you can use easily:

git pull

If you use TortoiseGit: RightClick on repo -> TortoiseGit -> Settings -> Git -> Edit local .git/config

The branch name in Git is case sensitive. To see the names of your branches that Git 'sees' (including the correct casing), use:

git branch -vv

... and now that you can see the correct branch name to use, do this:

git pull origin BranchName 

where 'BranchName' is the name of your branch. Ensure that you match the case correctly

So in the OP's (Original Poster's) case, the command would be:

git pull origin DownloadManager

This error happens because the local repository can't identify the remote branch at first time. So you need to do it first. It can be done using following commands:

git remote add origin 'url_of_your_github_project'

git push -u origin master

You need to set your local branch to track the remote branch, which it won't do automatically if they have different capitalizations.


git branch --set-upstream downloadmanager origin/DownloadManager
git pull

This is because your remote branch name is "DownloadManager“, I guess when you checkout your branch, you give this branch a new name "downloadmanager".

But this is just your local name, not remote ref name.

For me, it was because I was trying to pull a branch which was already deleted from Github.

If none of these answers work, I would start by looking in your .git/config file for references to the branch that makes problems, and removing them.

check your branch on your repo. maybe someone delete it.

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