The following shell function allows you to quickly restart one or more services in a running docker-compose service composition.

# restart services in docker-compose
	docker-compose stop $@
	docker-compose rm -f -v $@
	docker-compose create --force-recreate $@
	docker-compose start $@

Once loaded into your shell, you can call it with:

$ docker-compose-restart [SERVICE...]

I often have this requirement when using docker-compose for development. If a Docker image is updated, it’s inconvenient to restart all of the containers managed by compose.

This function will:

  • stop the services
  • remove the associated containers and any anonymous volumes attached to them
  • recreate the containers from updated images
  • start the services again

Any services not specified are left unchanged.


  1. Copy the function into your shell profile script (For BASH, this is ~/.profile).
  2. Restart your shell by logging out and in again


The following docker-compose.yml file defines two services: web and db:

version: '2'
    image: nginx
    - mongo
    image: mongo

Suppose these services are running via docker-compose up, but you have made changes to the nginx image which is used to run the web service. These changes are not apparent in the running containers.

Restart the web service as follows for your changes to be available:

$ docker-compose-restart web