rmw (Remove to Waste)

rmw manual



rmw − safe-remove utility for the command line


rmw [OPTION]... FILE...

Move FILE(s) to a WASTE directory listed in configuration file

rmw −s
rmw −u
rmw −z

Restore FILE(s) from a WASTE directory


rmw (ReMove to Waste) is a trashcan/recycle bin utility for the command line. It can move and restore files to and from directories specified in a configuration file, and can also be integrated with your regular desktop trash folder (if your desktop environment uses the FreeDesktop.org Trash specification). One of the unique features of rmw is the ability to purge items from your waste (or trash) directories after x number of days.


−h, −−help

show help for command line options

−c, −−config FILE

use an alternate configuration

−l, −−list

list waste directories

−g[N_DAYS], −−purge[=N_DAYS]

purge expired files; optional argument ’N_DAYS’ overrides ’expire_age’ value from the configuration file (Examples: −g90, −−purge=90)

By default, purging is disabled (’expire_age’ is set to ’0’ in the configuration file). To enable, set the ’expire_age’ value in your config file to a value greater than ’0’

You can use ’-vvg’ to see when the remaining files in the waste directories will expire.

−o, −−orphaned

check for orphaned files (maintenance)

An orphan is an item in a waste directory that has no corresponding .trashinfo file, or vice versa. This option is intended primarily for developers. Orphans may happen while testing code changes or if rmw is unintentionally released with a bug.
(see also: <https://theimpossibleastronaut.github.io/rmw-website/faq.html#dot_trashinfo>)

−f, −−force

allow purging of expired files

By default, force is not required to enable the purge feature. If you would like to require it, add ’force_required’ to your config file.


completely empty (purge) all waste directories

−r, −R, −−recursive

option used for compatibility with rm (recursive operation is enabled by default)


bypass protection of top-level files (added in v0.9.0)

−v, −−verbose

increase output messages

−w, −−warranty

display warranty

−V, −−version

display version and license information


−z, −−restore FILE(s)

To restore items, specify the path to them in the <WASTE>/files directory (wildcards ok).

When restoring an item, if a file or directory with the same name already exists at the destination, the item being restored will have a time/date string (formatted as "_%H%M%S-%y%m%d") appended to it (e.g. ’foo_164353-210508’).

−s, −−select

select files from list to restore

Displays a list of items in your waste directories. You can use the left/right cursor keys to switch between waste directories. Use the space bar to select the items you wish to restore, then press enter to restore all selected items.

−u, −−undo−last

undo last move

Restores files that were last rmw’ed

−m, −−most−recent−list

list most recently rmw’ed files


These variables are intended only to be used for testing. See the code-testing page on the rmw website for more details.


On some systems, $HOME/.config and $HOME/.local/share may be replaced with $XDG_CONFIG_HOME and $XDG_DATA_HOME

configuration file


text file that stores the time of the last purge


text file containing a list of items that were last rmw’ed


rmw will not move items from one file system to another. If you try to rmw a file but don’t have a waste directory defined in your configuration file that matches the file system on which it resides, rmw will refuse to do anything with it.

Items will be moved to a waste basket in the same manner as when using the "move to trash" option from your desktop GUI. They will be separated from your desktop trash by default; or if you wish for them to share the same "trash" directory, uncomment the line (in your config file):

(Note that this does not apply to MacOS; while rmw is yet unable to integrate with the desktop trash directory, you’ll still be able to use the default Waste directory.)

WASTE = $HOME/.local/share/Trash

then comment out the line

WASTE = $HOME/.local/share/Waste

You can reverse which directories are enabled at any time if you ever change your mind. If both directories are on the same filesystem, rmw will use the directory listed first in your config file.

It can be beneficial to have them both uncommented. If your desktop trash directory (~/.local/share/Trash) is listed after the rmw default (~/.local/share/Waste) and uncommented, rmw will place newly rmw’ed items into the default, and it will purge expired files from both.

When rmw’ing an item, if a file or directory with the same name already exists in the waste (or trash) directory, it will not be overwritten; instead, the current file being rmw’ed will have a time/date string (formatted as "_%H%M%S-%y%m%d") appended to it (e.g. ’foo_164353-210508’).

The first time rmw is run, it will create a configuration file. Waste directories will be created automatically (Except for when the ’,removable’ option is used; see below) e.g., if ’$HOME/.local/share/Waste’ is uncommented in the config file, these two directories will be created:


If a WASTE directory is on removable media, you may append ’,removable’. In that case, rmw will not try to create it; it must be initially created manually. When rmw runs, it will check to see if the directory exists (which means the removable media containing the directory is currently mounted). If rmw can’t find the directory, it is assumed the media containing the directory isn’t mounted and that directory will not be used for the current run of rmw.

With the media mounted, once you manually create the waste directory for that device (e.g. "/mnt/flash/.Trash-$UID") and run rmw, it will automatically create the two required child directories "files" and "info".


rmw -z ~/.local/share/Waste/files/foo
rmw -z ~/.local/share/Waste/files/bars*

WASTE=/mnt/flash/.Trash-$UID, removable

When using the removable attribute, you must also manually create the directory

expire_age = 45

rmw will permanently delete files that have been in the waste (or trash) for more than 45 days.


Project Manager: Andy Alt
The RMW team: see AUTHORS.md


Report bugs to <https://github.com/theimpossibleastronaut/rmw/issues>.


Copyright © 2012-2023 Andy Alt

License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <https://gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.


mv(1), rm(1), rmdir(1)

Full documentation at: <https://theimpossibleastronaut.github.io/rmw-website/>

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