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rmw (ReMove to Waste) is a safe-remove 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 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.

Web site:

codeql-badge c-cpp-badge

rmw is for people who sometimes use rm or rmdir at the command line and would occasionally like an alternative choice. It's not intended or designed to act as a replacement for rm, as it's more closely related to how the trash system functions.

Features and Usage

       -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,

              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
              (see also: <>)

       -f, --force
              allow purging of expired files

              rmw will refuse to purge directories if they contain non-writable
              files or subdirectories. rmw will show a message that tells you
              "permission denied; directory still contains files". To override,
              you can re-run rmw using '-ffg'.

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

              completely empty (purge) all waste directories

       -r, -R, --recursive
              option used for compatibility with rm (recursive operation is
              enabled by default)

       -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

              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 configured 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.

       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

       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

       Report bugs to <>.

       Copyright © 2012-2021 Andy Alt

       License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later
       This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.  There
       is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.


See the Screenshots page on the website.

Contact / Support


rmw is available in the homebrew and linuxbrew repositories; or there may may be a binary package available for your OS. You can view a list at Repology to see in which repositories rmw is included. Since v0.7.09, x86_64 AppImages are available.

AppImages and maintainer-created amd64 Debian packages are available in the releases section.

Installing from source

Required libraries

  • libncursesw (ncurses-devel on some systems, such as CentOS)
  • gettext (or use '-Dnls=false' if you only need English language support)

If you're building from source, you will need the libncursesw(5 or 6)-dev package from your operating system distribution. On some systems just the ncurses packages is needed, and it's often already installed.


As a normal user:

(This examples places the generated files to a separate folder, but you can run 'configure' from any directory you like.)

    meson builddir
    cd builddir

Use meson configure in the build dir to view or change available options.

Installing without superuser privileges

If you would like to install rmw without superuser privileges, use a prefix that you have write access to. Example:

meson -Dprefix=$HOME/.local builddir

or while in the build dir

meson configure -Dprefix=$HOME/.local

To install:

meson install

In the example above, the rmw binary will be installed to $HOME/.local/bin and documentation to $HOME/.local/doc.

If ncurses can't be found

On macOS, you may get a message during 'configure' that the menu library can't be found. The ncurses menu library isn't provided by default but can be installed using brew install ncurses. Then run 'configure' like this:

export PKG_CONFIG_PATH="$PKG_CONFIG_PATH:/usr/local/opt/ncurses/lib/pkgconfig

Or you can install rmw using brew.


ninja uninstall (uninstalls the program if installed with 'ninja install`)

Note that if using Meson version < 0.60.0, uninstall does not remove any language files that were installed. To remove them: