How to Use BleachBit to Optimize Ubuntu Linux


BleachBit is a cross-platform, free and
open source tool for helping you get rid of junk
on your machine. It is powerful and easy to use, allowing you to not only delete junk files, but also to shred and wipe files. This is useful for keeping your keeping system clean and
organized, as well as offering you well-deserved privacy.

In this article, I’m going to guide you through the installation process and show you how to make basic usage of BleachBit, while also including screenshots where needed.

How To Use Bleachbit To Optimize UbuntuHow To Use Bleachbit To Optimize Ubuntu

Note: I’ll be using Ubuntu, but the steps are similar for most Linux distributions.

Installing BleachBit on Ubuntu

The simplest way to install BleachBit is using the package manager or the software. Here you can search for BleachBit and when you find it, click on it and then press
Install. Removing it is as simple as searching for it again and pressing Remove.

BleachBit in Ubuntu Software CenterBleachBit in Ubuntu Software Center
BleachBit in Ubuntu Software Center

If you are terminal lover, you can use apt command to install BleachBit:

sudo apt install bleachbit -y

However, this won’t install the latest version of BleachBit. At the time of writing this article, the Ubuntu repositories contain
version 2.0, while the latest version is 2.2.

To get the latest version, you first of all have to go to the official download page:

BleachBit Download PageBleachBit Download Page
BleachBit Download Page

Here, download the right package for your system (in my case it’s Ubuntu 18.04 LTS) by clicking on the corresponding link. It will download a .deb file. Installing packages from deb files is simple. Simply double click on it and it will
run in the software center. Just click on install here.

Using BleachBit to clean your system

Search for BleachBit and clcik on the bleachbit icon in the Applications Menu:

Bleachbit in Applications MenuBleachbit in Applications Menu
Bleachbit In Applications Menu

Note: To run BleachBit with administrator privileges, click on the second icon (BleachBit as Administrator/root).

Either of this methods should open up the start screen:

BleachBit Start ScreenBleachBit Start Screen
BleachBit Start Screen

This is the Preferences menu and you can open it up at any time by clicking Edit > Prefrences.

Some important options include:

  • Overwrite contents of files to prevent recovery: although slower, this will actually shred your files. Files are normally marked as deleted and allowed to be
    overwritten if there isn’t any space left. However, selecting this options will fill the space with junk (that will still act as a deleted file), making the shredded file irrecoverable. Keep
    in mind that this process is slower.
  • Languages: here you can choose which languages to keep (although they don’t really take up that much space).
  • Drives: in this sub-menu you can add directories where all free space should be replaced with junk (as when shredding files), making sure no file can be recovered from those

Closing the Preferences menu will leave you in the Main Menu:

BleachBit MenuBleachBit Menu
BleachBit Menu

On the left side, you can select what type of files you want to delete (this includes system-wide files and application-specific files). Some of them require
administrator privileges (such as APT cache and System-related options), and some of them will prompt warnings (such as Firefox warning you that your saved passwords will be

After making your selection, I suggest clicking on the Preview (the magnifying glass icon). This will show you exactly what is going to be deleted:

BleachBit PreviewBleachBit Preview
BleachBit Preview

By pressing Clean (the red circle), you are going to start the deleting process. You’ll get a message when BleachBit finishes:

BleachBit CleanBleachBit Clean
BleachBit Clean

Another thing you can do is quickly shred or wipe a specific directory or file:

BleachBit Quick ShredBleachBit Quick Shred
BleachBit Quick Shred

Using BleachBit in command line

You can also use BleachBit in the terminal. To list cleaners run:

bleachbit -l

This will produce output in the vein of:

    ... thunderbird.index thunderbird.passwords thunderbird.vacuum transmission.blocklists transmission.history transmission.torrents tremulous.cache vim.history vlc.mru vuze.backup_files vuze.cache vuze.logs vuze.tmp warzone2100.logs wine.tmp winetricks.temporary_files x11.debug_logs xine.cache yum.clean_all yum.vacuum ...

Now you can run any cleaner or group of cleaners. For example:

bleachbit -c google_chrome* thunderbird.passwords

This command will delete all Google Chrome saved data and all saved Thunderbird passwords.

The CLI is useful because you can write bash scripts that execute BleachBit commands and you can even schedule cleaning actions using tools such as CRON.

Wrapping Up

There are ways to clean up Ubuntu but having a dedicated GUI tool is always
handy. Whether you are simply looking for a neat way to keep your system clean of any unnecessary data, optimizing your machine, or trying to keep your personal details safe,
BleachBit is a tool that will surely come in handy, being so easy to get the hang of (while still being powerful).

Do you use any system cleaner? If so, which one and how? Let us know in the comments!

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