Adding a trash can to Linux with trash-cli



There is no trash can for the Linux CLI. rm removes the data permanently, and there is practically no way of recovering deleted files reliably. trash-cli fills this role and lets you ‘trash’ files and directories and lets you recover ‘trashed’ items.


There are multiple ways to install trash-cli. It is open source and instructions can be found on Github.

Working with Aliases

As a side note: In this article, I will work with aliases. You can pick whatever alias you want, but it is not recommended to overwrite rm for trash-cli. Overwriting rm can cause issues with scripts, applications, and other features. That said, make sure not to overwrite an already-used command.

Add the aliases by adding them to your ~/.bashrc file and load it with source ~/.bashrc. It may vary depending on your setup.

Moving files into the trash can

You can move files into the trash can with trash or trash-put. It works with files and directories. I’ve been using it with the alias tm as it is close to rm.

alias tm="trash"

Showing files and dirs in the trash can

You can use trash-list to show the content of the trash can.

$ trash-list
2024-02-03 22:53:27 /home/user/data/file2
2024-02-03 22:53:27 /home/user/data/file4
alias tmls="trash-list"

Looking for specific files in the trash can

$ trash-list | grep -i file4
2024-02-03 22:53:27 /home/user/data/file4

Side note: -i in grep makes the search case-insensitive.

alias tmgr="trash-list | grep -i"

Disk Space

The following directories store the trashed items: ~/.local/share/Trash/files and /root/.local/share/Trash/files # trashed with sudo

You can check the used space of the trash can with the following command:
du -sh ~/.local/share/Trash/files
alias tmdu="du -sh ~/.local/share/Trash/files

Getting things out of the trash

The advantage of trash-cli is the possibility to recover ‘trashed’ items.:

$ trash-restore
   0 2024-02-03 23:05:54 /home/user/data/file5
   1 2024-02-03 23:05:54 /home/user/data/dir3
   2 2024-02-03 23:05:54 /home/user/data/file7
   3 2024-02-03 23:05:54 /home/user/data/dir4
   4 2024-02-03 22:53:27 /home/user/data/file4
What file to restore [0..4]: 

Choose a single file or directory or multiple items with e.g. 2-3. The chosen items will be restored to their original destination.

alias tmre="trash-restore

You can’t restore an item when an item with the same name is in the original path.

Refusing to overwrite existing file "file3".

There is an --overwrite option, but it is not working for me and I haven’t really looked into it as I don’t need it that often.

Emptying the trash can

There are multiple ways to do so. I haven’t added any aliases for those options, but feel free to do so.

Removes all items from trash can:
There is no confirmation prompt!
Removes all items that have been deleted more than n days:
trash-empty n
trash-empty 30

Removing specific items

Removes specific items from the trash can:
trash-rm NameOfItem # removes all items called NameOfItem
trash-rm '*.iso' # removes all .iso files
trash-rm /path/of/items # should remove all items with a specific path, but it is not working for me


Emptying the trash can be automated with cron jobs.

I run it once a day to delete all items that have been trashed more than 7 days ago, but please modify as you wish:

crontab -e > add 20 4 * * * trash-rm 7 - runs every day at 4:20 am


It saved me multiple times, and I can recommend it. I’ve gotten used to using tm instead of rm, which can be annoying on systems I don’t manage, but this is a small price to pay. The source code can be found on Github.