We are just switching to Mercurial where I work this week. I'm starting to read material, and was hoping somebody could succinctly answer this question:

What's the difference between Mercurial's "tip" tag and the "default" branch?

2 Answers 2


tip can be on a different branch than default.

hg uses the latest revision your "-r somewhat" matches. if somewhat is a branch, it updates to its latest head. if somewhat is a tag it updates to the revision this tag is associated with.

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    note to future readers: "somewhat" is a a placeholder here for a tag or branch name. It is not a special branch, tag, term, or keyword in mercurial, like I originally thought. Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 20:30

Tip is the most recent changeset in the repository. Default is a branch. Tip is a special Tag (a named changeset) which always refers to the most recently changed Head.

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    So does this mean that tip will move around from one branch to another as people push changesets on different branches? If so, what's the point of it, since you can't rely on it being in any one place? Thanks! Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 20:40
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    True, I can't think of any usecases for Tip aside from checking how old my repo is or sharing the id of my tip when talking with other developers. Also as giszmo points out, hg update -r tip is a quick way to get to the newest code regardless of branch.
    – Dan R
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 21:06
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    tip is just an alias for the last changeset in your repo. Sometimes it comes in handy, e.g. you make a change in branch supercalifragilisticexpialidocious which you would then like to merge into branch default; so then you update to branch default and because you know that the work you want to merge into default is at the tip of your local repository (because you’ve just committed it), instead of doing hg merge supercalifragilisticexpialidocious you may do hg merge tip.
    – dwardu
    Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 16:35

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