How to Uninstall Ubuntu Software Packages

Illustration of computer with leftward arrow coming out of the screen representing removing software

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By far the easiest way to remove software installed on your Ubuntu system is to use the "Ubuntu Software" tool which is the one-stop-shop for installing the majority of applications within Ubuntu.

Ubuntu has a launch bar on the left side of the screen. To start the Ubuntu Software tool select the icon on the launch bar that looks like a shopping bag with the letter A on it.

How to Uninstall Software Using the Ubuntu Software Tool

Uninstall Ubuntu Software

The "Ubuntu Software" tool has three tabs:

  • All
  • Installed
  • Updates

Click on the Installed tab and scroll down until you find the application you wish to uninstall. 

To uninstall the software package, select on the Remove button.

While this works for many packages it doesn't work for all of them. If you cannot find the program that you wish to uninstall in the list then you should move onto the next step.

Uninstall Software Within Ubuntu Using Synaptic

Synaptic Uninstall Software

The main issue with "Ubuntu Software" is that it doesn't show all the applications and packages that are installed on your system.

A much better tool for removing software is called "Synaptic". This tool will show every single package installed on your system. 

To install "Synaptic" open the "Ubuntu Software" tool by clicking on the shopping bag icon with the Ubuntu launcher.

Make sure that the All tab is selected and search for "Synaptic" using the search bar.

When the Synaptic package is returned as an option click on the Install button. You will be asked for your password. This ensures that only users with the correct permissions can install software.

To run Synaptic press the super key on your keyboard. The super key differs depending on the computer you are using. On computers designed for the Windows operating system, it is denoted on your keyboard with the Windows logo. You can also achieve the same result by clicking on the icon at the top of the Ubuntu launcher.

The Unity Dash will appear. In the search box type Synaptic. Select the newly installed Synaptic Package Manager icon which appears as a result.

If you know the name of the package that you wish to remove click on the search button on the toolbar and enter the name of the package. To narrow the results you can change the Look In drop-down to just filter by name instead of name and description.

If you don't know the exact name of the package and you just wish to browse through installed applications click on the Status button in the bottom left corner of the screen. Click on the Installed option in the left panel.

To uninstall a package right click on the name of the package and choose either Mark For Removal or ​Mark For Complete Removal.

The Mark For Removal option will simply remove the package that you have chosen to uninstall.

The Mark For Complete Removal option will remove the package and any configuration files associated with that package. There is a caveat, though. The configuration files that are removed are only the generic ones installed with the application.

If you have any configuration files listed under your own home folder they will not be deleted. These have to be removed manually. 

To complete the removal of the software select the Apply button at the top of the screen.

A warning window will appear showing the name of the packages that are marked for removal. If you are sure you want to uninstall the software click on the Apply button. 

How to Uninstall Software Using the Ubuntu Command Line

Uninstall Ubuntu Software Using The Terminal

The Ubuntu terminal will give you the ultimate control for uninstalling the software. 

In most cases using Ubuntu Software and Synaptic are sufficient for installing and uninstalling the software.

You can, however, remove software using the terminal and there is one important command we will show you that isn't available in the graphical tools.

There are various ways to open a terminal using Ubuntu. The easiest is to press CTRL, ALT, and T at the same time (CTRL+ALT+T).

To get a list of the applications installed on your computer run the following command:

sudo apt --installed list | more

The above commands show a list of applications installed on your system one page at a time. To see the next page simply press the space bar or to quit out press the q key.

To remove a program run the following command:

sudo apt-get remove 

Replace with the name of the package you wish to remove.

The above command works much like the Mark for removal option in Synaptic.

To go for the complete removal run the following command:

sudo apt-get remove --purge

As before, replacing with the name of the package you wish to remove.

When you install an application a list of packages that the application depends on are also installed.

When you remove an application these packages are not automatically removed. 

To remove packages that were installed as dependencies, but which no longer have the parent application, installed run the following command:

sudo apt-get autoremove

You are now armed with everything you need to know in order to remove packages and applications within Ubuntu.