Home Command line utilities Trash-cli : A Commandline Trashcan For Unix-like Systems

Trash-cli : A Commandline Trashcan For Unix-like Systems

By sk
Published: Last Updated on 2.4K views

We all know that when we delete a file/folder, they will be moved to a temporary location called 'Trash' or 'Recycle bin'. We can delete the contents of Trash permanently or restore them if we need them later. This is how we use graphical Trashcans. However, If you're a heavy command-line user and looking for a command-line alternative way to use Trashcan from the Terminal, you need to check 'Trash-cli' utility.  Trash-cli is a commandline trashcan for Unix-like systems. It uses the same trashcan used by GNOME, KDE, and XFCE, but we can use it right from the Terminal. Using trash-cli, we can delete, restore items as the way we do in the graphical Trashcan.

In this brief tutorial, we will be discussing how to install and use 'Trash-cli' utility in Linux.

Trash-cli : A Commandline Trashcan (Recycle Bin) For Unix-like Systems


Trash-cli is available in the default repositories of most Linux distributions.

To install it on Arch Linux and its derivatives:

$ sudo pacman -S trash-cli

On Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint:

$ sudo apt-get install trash-cli

On Fedora and other RPM based systems:

$ sudo dnf install trash-cli


$ sudo yum install trash-cli

If Trash-cli is not available on the repositories, you can compile and install it from sources.

To install it on system-wide, run the following commands one by one.

$ git clone https://github.com/andreafrancia/trash-cli.git
$ cd trash-cli
$ sudo python setup.py install

For user-level installation, run.

$ python setup.py install --user


Trash-cli supports the following functions:

  • trash-put - Delete files and folders,
  • trash-empty - Empty the trashcan,
  • trash-list - List deleted files and folders,
  • trash-restore - Restore a trashed file or folder,
  • trash-rm - Remove individual files from the trashcan.

Allow me to show you some examples, so you can understand how it works!

To send a file named 'file.txt' to trashcan, run:

$ trash-put file1

Similarly, we can trash a directory using command:

$ trash-put dir1

You can verify it whether the files or folders have been sent to the trashcan in your file manager.

As you see in the above output, file1 and dir1 have been sent to Trash folder.

To view the contents of your Trashcan from Terminal, run:

$ trash-list

Sample output would be:

2017-02-16 15:42:50 /home/sk/dir1
2017-02-16 15:41:47 /home/sk/file1

You can restore deleted items at any time using command:

$ trash-restore

It will ask you which file you'd like to restore. Just enter the number (0 or 1 in our case). The respective file will be restored. I wanted to restore dir1, so I entered 0(zero).

Sample output:

0 2017-02-16 15:42:50 /home/sk/dir1
1 2017-02-16 15:41:47 /home/sk/file1
What file to restore [0..1]: 0

now, the selected item will be restored.

To empty all items in the trashcan, you can use:

$ trash-empty

Also, you can remove a single folder/file from the Trashcan as shown below.

$ trash-rm file1

The above command will permanently delete the specified item i.e. file1.

Trash-cli also allows to remove contents older than x days. Say for example, to remove contents older than 7 days, run the following command:

$ trash-empty 7

Suggested read:

You know now how to use trashcan from the commandline using trash-cli utility. Hope you find it useful.


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Caleb Cushing February 17, 2017 - 3:59 am

neat, kind of want them to make it… rm (as alias or symlink) compatible, no more accidents, lol

tivasyk February 18, 2017 - 1:18 pm

“you can permanently _restore_ individual item as shown below.

trash-rm file1”

oops, this is gonna be a painful experience lol. please fix the text =)

SK February 18, 2017 - 3:31 pm

Fixed it. Thank you.

Chris McGimpsey-Jones February 21, 2017 - 9:12 am

This is so incredibly useful. I can’t believe I’m a Linux veteran and I had no idea this package even existed, until now. Thank you so much.

FraNK November 23, 2018 - 4:01 pm

trash-restore: command not found


after googling it seems the command is restore-trash

Ha…I wonder if its ubuntu specific?

Jean-Philippe Bégin January 10, 2019 - 7:40 pm

root@jpb-ubuntu16-64:~# rm txt
txt txt.txt
root@jpb-ubuntu16-64:~# rm txt.txt
rm is disabled. Please use trash , trash-list, restore-trash commands or /bin/rm instead. Thank you txt.txt
root@jpb-ubuntu16-64:~# trash-list
2018-11-15 15:48:05 /root/bsplayer-13_1_0-23201-amd64.deb
2018-11-15 15:54:29 /home/bsp/.config/Alex_BroadSign.conf
2018-11-15 15:54:32 /home/bsp/.config/BroadSign.conf
2018-11-15 09:35:55 /root/test.txt
2019-01-08 16:19:33 /opt/broadsign/suite/bsp/lib/i965_drv_video.so
root@jpb-ubuntu16-64:~# restore-trash
0 2018-11-15 15:48:05 /root/bsplayer-13_1_0-23201-amd64.deb
1 2018-11-15 09:35:55 /root/test.txt
What file to restore [0..1]:

Anybody know where the files are stored? Is this a script error?

Sergio Araujo October 17, 2020 - 9:53 pm

In my case, as I have both trash-cli and gnome-shell I have this alias:

(( $+commands[trash-cli] && $+commands[gio] )) && alias rm=’gio trash’

The GIO is a kind of API for gnome shell


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