How To Add And Remove Software Using The Raspberry PI OS

Thus far we have looked at how to set up the Raspberry PI, how to install the Raspberry PI OS and the default features that the Raspberry PI OS provides.

In this guide you will be shown 3 methods for installing and uninstalling software to your Raspberry PI.

  • Install recommended software
  • Add/Remove programs
  • Using apt / apt-get from the command line

Recommended Software

The Raspberry PI OS has a recommended software feature that provides a list of software recommended for use with the Raspberry PI.

To open the feature click on the menu (Raspberry PI icon) and navigate down to preferences and click on “Recommended Software”.

A list of software titles will be displayed with a short description of its key purpose. If there is a tick next to the item then the software is already installed.

If you wish to add a piece of software that currently doesn’t have a tick, simply click on the item, place a tick in the box and click “Apply”.

To remove a piece of software, click on the title, un-check the box and click “Apply”.

There are 2 main points to make about the recommended software feature.

  • Most of the recommended items are already installed by default
  • Few of them are actually useful for the purposes of general daily use

Add/Remove Software

The next method for installing software is using a graphical package manager.

You can bring up the add/software tool by clicking on the menu, navigating down to preferences and by clicking “Add / Remove Software”.

The “Add/Remove” software lists all of the software packages available in the repositories.

The software repositories is a catalogue of all available packages that can be installed to your Raspberry PI.

The package list is always changing because there are always new packages and existing packages have newer versions available.

The first thing you should do when opening the add/remove software tool is run an update to pull in the latest packages. To do this click on “Options” and then choose “Refresh Package Lists”.

If you are just looking for new software to install and you aren’t sure what it is you are looking for then you can browse the list of packages by clicking on a category and then scrolling through the items in the category.

Alternatively if you have an idea of what you are looking for then you can search for the piece of software by name or by description.

Once you have found what you are looking for click on the item and place a tick in the box. To install the software click “Apply”.

Note that you can install many packages at once by ticking multiple items before clicking “Apply”.

To remove a piece of software, click on the package and remove the tick and click “Apply”.

Before moving on to the 3rd method for installing software there is one more important feature and that is the updates option.

Click on “Options” and then “Updates”.

This option will search for updated versions of the software already installed on your system.

A list of all updated software will be displayed and to install the updates all you have to do is click “Install Updates”.

Install And Remove Software Using Apt / Apt-Get

The 3rd method for installing and removing software involves using the command line. This may seem daunting at first but it is actually easier and more efficient than using the graphical tools.

One thing you will notice quite quickly about the graphical package manager is that the search facility is limited and it returns a lot of packages that don’t really relate to what you searched for. This makes it tricky and time consuming to find the package you actually need to install.

I find that the command line tools are easier to work with and provide a much more powerful experience.

To get started you can open a terminal window by clicking on the appropriate icon in the launcher.

In the image above it is the last one in the list and has a black background with a >_ symbol.

You can also open a terminal window by pressing the CTRL, ALT and T key at the same time.

The command line tool we are going to use is apt.

The apt tool works in much the same way as the graphical tool in that it uses a series of repositories to pull a list of software titles and descriptions.

With this in mind the first thing you need to do is pull down the latest updates.

To do this type the following command and press return:

sudo apt-get update

This does not update any software on your computer it just updates the list of potential packages to install.

To actually install the latest version for each software package on your computer you can use the following command:

sudo apt-get-upgrade

To list all of the packages in the repositories you can use the following command:

apt list

The above command on its own isn’t very useful as it scrolls a huge list of titles.

To show the items a page at a time you can use the following command:

apt list | more

The more command displays content one page at a time and you can press the space bar to move to the next page. To cancel out press the CTRL and C keys at the same time.

A slightly more useful variant is to use apt-cache to return a list of all package names:

apt-cache pkgnames

You can narrow down the search by using the start of the package name. For instance to find all packages beginning with A use the following command

apt-cache pkgnames a

If you know the title of the package or you have a description of the package you wish to install then you can use the following command to search for a package

apt-cache search "mail client"

The above command will search for all packages that have “mail client” as part of their title or description.

When you have found a package that you think you want to install you can use the following command to find out more information about the package.

apt-cache show packagename

For instance if you wanted to know more about the package “evolution” you would use the following command

apt-cache show evolution

After you have found the package you require you can install it using the following command:

sudo apt-get install packagename

For instance if you wanted to install the email client “evolution” you would use the following command:

sudo apt-get install evolution

This will display a list of the additional dependencies that will be installed alongside evolution. You need to press “Y” to continue to install the package.

To remove a package you can use the following command:

sudo apt-get remove packagename

The remove command removes the package but it leaves behind any configuration files that were installed as part of the installation and through usage of the application.

To remove the package and anything associated with it you can use the purge command.

sudo apt-get purge packagename


This article showed you three methods for installing software onto your Raspberry PI. Further guides will show you the best software to install for specific purposes such as the best email client, the best audio player and the best graphics editor.