How to Remove Symlinks on Linux

How to Remove Symlinks on Linux

Symlinks, or symbolic links, are files that act as shortcuts or references to other files or directories on your Linux system. They can be useful for organizing files and creating shortcuts to frequently accessed directories. However, there may be times when you want to remove a symlink. This guide will walk you through the process of removing symlinks on Linux.

Step 1: Identify the Symlink

Before removing a symlink, you need to identify the symlink you want to remove. You can do this by using the ls command with the -l option to display detailed information about the files in a directory. Look for files with an l in the first character of the permissions column, which indicates a symlink.

For example, let’s say you have a symlink named shortcut in your current directory. You can use the following command to display detailed information about the files:

ls -l

This will list all the files in the current directory along with their permissions, owners, sizes, and more.

Step 2: Remove the Symlink

Once you have identified the symlink you want to remove, you can use the rm command to delete it. Simply specify the name of the symlink as the argument to the rm command.

For example, to remove the shortcut symlink, you would run the following command:

rm shortcut

This will delete the symlink from your system.

Step 3: Confirm the Removal

After running the rm command, it’s a good idea to confirm that the symlink has been successfully removed. You can do this by using the ls command again to list the files in the directory.

For example, if you run the following command:

ls -l

You should no longer see the symlink in the output.

Additional Commands and Options

Here are some additional commands and options you can use when working with symlinks:

Command Description
ln -s source target Creates a symlink named target that points to the file or directory source.
readlink symlink Displays the target of a symlink.
unlink symlink Removes a symlink. This is equivalent to using the rm command.

Scripts and Automation

If you frequently need to remove symlinks or perform other symlink-related tasks, you can automate the process using scripts. For example, you can create a script that takes a symlink name as an argument and removes it using the rm command.

Here’s an example of a simple script that removes a symlink:


if [ -L "$1" ]; then
  rm "$1"
  echo "Symlink $1 removed successfully."
  echo "Error: $1 is not a symlink."

You can save this script to a file, such as, and make it executable using the chmod command:

chmod +x

Once the script is executable, you can run it by specifying the symlink name as an argument:

./ shortcut

This will remove the shortcut symlink if it exists and display a success message. If the specified file is not a symlink, it will display an error message.

Using scripts like this can save you time and make it easier to manage symlinks on your Linux system.

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