Command to move a file to Trash via Terminal

I would like to know if there is a command I can issue in a terminal so I do not classically remove (rm) the file, but instead move it to trash (i.e. Nautilus Move to Trash behavior).

In case there is such a command, I would also be interested in knowing what it is.

Asked By: Rasmus


Install trash-cli Install trash-clisudo apt-get install trash-cli

Put files in the trash with: trash file1 file2

List files in trash: trash-list

Empty trash with: trash-empty

Answered By: user55822

As of 2017, you can use gio, which supports several operations, including trashing files.

gio trash filename
gio trash *.ext
gio trash filename1 filename2

From the manual:

  gio trash [OPTION…] [LOCATION…]

Move/Restore files or directories to the trash.

  -f, --force     Ignore nonexistent files, never prompt
  --empty         Empty the trash
  --list          List files in the trash with their original locations
  --restore       Restore a file from trash to its original location (possibly recreating the directory)

Note: for --restore switch, if the original location of the trashed file
already exists, it will not be overwritten unless --force is set.

You used to be able to use gvfs-trash command from the package gvfs-bin. This is still installed by default in Ubuntu, but has been deprecated.

Answered By: Radu Rădeanu

I like the simpler ways better. I made a folder .Tr in my home directory by typing:

mkdir ~/.Tr

and instead of using rm to delete files, I move those files to the ~/.Tr directory by typing:

mv fileName ~/.Tr

This is an effective and simple way of keeping access to files you think you don’t want. This has the added benefit (in my case) of not messing with the system’s folders, as my Ubuntu knowledge levels are fairly low and I worry about what I might be screwing up when I mess with system stuff. If you are also low level please note that the “.” in the directory name makes it a hidden directory.

Answered By: user2981989

Here is an open-source nodejs-based version (if you want to know what happens under the hood, or need this in a project) that also has command line support (if you are happy if it just works).

> trash pictures/beach.jpg
Answered By: Frank N

As of 2017, gvfs-trash seems to be deprecated.

$ touch test
$ gvfs-trash test
This tool has been deprecated, use 'gio trash' instead.
See 'gio help trash' for more info.

You should use gio, specifically

gio trash

is the recommended way.

Answered By: Eugene

A previous answer mentions the command gio trash, which is fine as far as it goes. However, on server machines, there is no equivalent of a trash directory. I’ve written a Bash script that does the job; on (Ubuntu) desktop machines, it uses gio trash. (I’ve added alias tt='move-to-trash' to my alias definitions file; tt is a mnemonic for "to trash".) The script is tested to work; I use it all the time myself. Script updated on 2020-08-10.

# move-to-trash
# Teemu Leisti 2020-08-10
# This script moves the files given as arguments to the trash directory, if they
# are not already there. It works both on (Gnome) desktop and server hosts. (The
# gio command only exists for Gnome.)
# The script is intended as a command-line equivalent of deleting a file from a
# graphical file manager, which, in the usual case, moves the deleted file(s) to
# a built-in trash directory. On server hosts, the analogy is not perfect, as
# the script does not offer the functionality of restoring a trashed file to its
# original location, nor that of emptying the trash directory; rather, it offers
# an alternative to the 'rm' command, giving the user the peace of mind that
# they can still undo an unintended deletion before emptying the trash
# directory.
# To determine whether it's running on a desktop host, the script tests for the
# existence of the gio command and of directory ~/.local/share/Trash. In case
# both exist, the script relies on the 'gio trash' command. Otherwise, it treats
# the host as a server.
# There is no built-in trash directory on server hosts, so the script creates
# directory ~/.Trash/, unless it already exists.
# The script appends a millisecond-resolution time stamp to all the files it
# moves to the trash directory, both to inform the user of the time of the
# deletion, and to avoid overwrites when moving a file to trash.
# The script will not choke on a nonexistent file. It outputs the final
# disposition of each argument: does not exist, was already in trash, or was
# moved to trash.

command -v gio > /dev/null 2>&1
if (( $? == 0 )) ; then

# Exit on using an uninitialized variable, and on a command returning an error.
# (The latter setting necessitates appending " || true" to those arithmetic
# calculations and other commands that can return 0, lest the shell interpret
# the result as signalling an error.)
set -eu


if [[ -d ~/.local/share/Trash ]] && (( gio_command_exists == 1 )) ; then
    trash_dir_abspath=$(realpath ~/.local/share/Trash)
    trash_dir_abspath=$(realpath ~/.Trash)
    if [[ -e $trash_dir_abspath ]] ; then
        if [[ ! -d $trash_dir_abspath ]] ; then
            echo "The file $trash_dir_abspath exists, but is not a directory. Exiting."
            exit 1
        mkdir $trash_dir_abspath
        echo "Created directory $trash_dir_abspath"

for file in "$@" ; do
    file_abspath=$(realpath -- "$file")
    file_basename=$(basename -- "$file_abspath")
    if [[ ! -e $file_abspath ]] ; then
        echo "does not exist:   $file_abspath"
    elif [[ "$file_abspath" == "$trash_dir_abspath"* ]] ; then
        echo "already in trash: $file_abspath"
        if (( is_desktop == 1 )) ; then
            gio trash "$file_abspath" || true
            # The name of the moved file shall be the original name plus a
            # millisecond-resolution timestamp.
            move_to_abspath="$beginning$(date '+%Y-%m-%d_AT_%H-%M-%S.%3N')"
            while [[ -e "$move_to_abspath" ]] ; do
                # Generate a new name with a new timestamp, as the previously
                # generated one denoted an existing file.
                move_to_abspath="$beginning$(date '+%Y-%m-%d_AT_%H-%M-%S.%3N')"
            # We're now almost certain that the file denoted by name
            # $move_to_abspath does not exist. For that to be the case, an
            # extremely unlikely race condition would have had to take place:
            # some other process would have had to create a file with the name
            # $move_to_abspath after the execution of the existence test above.
            # However, to make absolute sure that moving the file to the trash
            # directory will always be successful, we shall give the '-f'
            # (force) flag to the 'mv' command.
            /bin/mv -f "$file_abspath" "$move_to_abspath"
        echo "moved to trash:   $file_abspath"
Answered By: Teemu Leisti

Updating @Radu Rădeanu answer. Since Ubuntu is telling me to use gio instead…

So, to trash some_file (or folder) use

gio trash some_file

To go dumpster diving use

gio list trash://

To empty trash

gio trash --empty
Answered By: Barmaley

In KDE 4.14.8 I used the following command to move files to trash (as if it were removed in Dolphin):

kioclient move path_to_file_or_directory_to_be_removed trash:/

Appendix: I found about the command with

    ktrash --help
    Note: to move files to the trash, do not use ktrash, but "kioclient move 'url' trash:/"

EDIT : For KDE 5.18.5, the command is kioclient5, the syntax is identical.

Answered By: user3804598

The best solution is to use gio trash as gvfs-trash is deprecated.

  1. Open the terminal and type the below command:

    gedit ~/.bashrc
  2. This command will open your .bashrc file, which is the configuration file for your terminal. If you are using any other terminal open their rc file (e.g. zsh terminal will be like .zshrc).

  3. Paste the below command at the end of your opened file:

    alias rm='gio trash'
  4. Now just save and exit the file.

  5. Restart your terminal and Boom, you have successfully changed rm from permanently deleting a file to deleting the file to trash!!

Answered By: Akshat Singh
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