The Synaptic Package Manager in Linux [A Complete Guide]

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Synaptic is a graphical package manager that provides the same features as apt-get and apt is used in Debian-based Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and Debian.Synaptic works on the top of the apt or apt-get.The users who are comfortable with the graphical interface mainly use Synaptic package manager. In this article, I will show how the user can mainly install, remove, and handle the software with Synaptic efficiently.

What is Synaptic package manager in Linux?

The synaptic package manager is a lightweight graphical user interface, so users find it very easy to use and for that reason, it is very user-friendly. If you start with synaptic you will see the window. Here I have shown the window components:

Component Description
Menubar Use to perform the action in Synaptic.
Toolbar Provides the main actions which include the properties, search, mark all upgrades, and reload.
Status bar Shows the global status of the package manager.
Category sector Categories the list of packages and narrows the window.
Package List List all the packages divided into sections.

The Key Components of Synaptic

The users who use the package manager for the first time should know about the key components of Synaptic. Here I have shown the modules:

  • Usage: Graphical front-end of apt and used in Debian and Debian-based Linux distribution.
  • File extension: The file extension the synaptic package manager manages is .deb files.
  • Key Features: Install, Remove, and upgrade packages, User-friendly, Mainly used by those who prefer a graphical user interface.

Features of Synaptic Package Manager

Synaptic is the combination of apt-get and GUI. Here are some key features that Synaptic Package Manager provides:

  • Install, remove, and upgrade specific, and multiple packages.
  • Provide force installation of a specific package.
  • Perform smart upgrades.
  • Lock a specific version of the package.
  • Can show all the online packages while searching.
  • Search for a Package.
  • Show the information of a package.
  • Fix the broken dependencies of a package.
  • Manage the repositories.
  • Download the changelog.
  • Show the list of all packages by section, status, and custom filters.

Below I will show examples of the features that will help you to use the package manager properly.

How to Install Synaptic Package Manager on Ubuntu

Synaptic Package Manager does not come by default. So you have to install it with apt or apt-get.  To install Synaptic you can copy this command:

sudo apt install synaptic
  • sudo: Permits administrative privileges.
  • apt: Package management system in Red Hat that provides a high-level front-end command interface.
  • install: Command install the following package.
  • synaptic: The package manager that I want to install.

Install synaptic package manager

The image shows that the synaptic package manager has been successfully installed on the system.

How to Use Synaptic Package Manager?

First, you have to launch the synaptic package manager to further work and for that, you can copy the following command on Ubuntu:

sudo synaptic

Run the following command

After running the command, the package manager will be launched.

Install Software With Synaptic Package Manager

The common function of any package manager is to install a package that shows variety in installation. In this section, I have shown how you can install the package with Synaptic.

A. How to Install a Specific Package Using Synaptic

Once you successfully launch the package manager, then the following window will open. To install a package with Synaptic first you can see the search bar at the right corner of the window.

Showing the search dialog box with synaptic

After clicking the search button, it will show a small box on which you type the package name that you want to install. Once you type the package name press the search button.

Search for a package with synaptic

It will show all the packages related to the searched package. From the packages, you can choose a package, right-click on this, and then press the mark for Installation.

Mark for installation with synaptic

Once you press the key it will ask you to make additional changes by marking the other required packages to install.

Mark other packages with synaptic

After marking the additional packages press the apply button as I have shown on the image.

Press apply button to confirm installation with synaptic

Review the changes and then press the apply button on the bottom right of the window.

Click apply to install the package with synaptic

Close the dialog box with synaptic

Once the installation has been completed, you have to press the close button.

B. How to Force the Installation of a Package Version

Sometimes one needs to install a specific package version on the installed higher version of the package. To do so, you need to select a package, and then click on the package icon on the toolbar.

Select a package for installing force version

Showing the force version with synaptic

From the image, you can see it will show another window and you have to press the force version. Once you click on the force version it will show the following bar as I have shown in the following image.

Select bar to click the version with synaptic

Now you have to click the bar and you will see the versions.

Select a force version on synaptic

Once you select the version as I have shown in the above image click on the bottom right on the force version button.

The package force version have been added on synaptic

Sometimes you will not see the force version option for a specific package. When the package has only one version then it will be not shown.

Remove Software With Synaptic Package Manager

Sometimes you install a package but you do not need the file later. So you can uninstall or remove it with the remove option. In this section, I have shown how to remove a single package and unnecessary packages with Synaptic on Ubuntu:

1. How to Remove a Specific Package Using Synaptic

You can choose a package and then right-click on it to remove it. So a window will be shown and from the window, you have to select the mark for removal option. To remove a specific package using Synaptic, check the following steps:

Remove a package with synaptic

From the image, you can see I have removed the package with the mark for removal option. I have shown some other options in the image. If you want to delete or remove a package with the configuration file or purge the package then you can use the mark for complete Removal option. Again if a package is installed with broken dependencies or unmet with the dependencies then you can use the mark for reinstallation option.

Click to removal to confirm on synaptic

After choosing the option you have to press the apply option to save the changes.

2. How to Purge a Package in Linux

If you want to delete a package with its configuration file then you can use the mark for Complete Removal option. So to purge a package in Linux, check the following steps:

Remove full package with synaptic package manager

If you click on the button it will ask you to review and apply for the following changes.

Remove a package after applying on synaptic

So to remove a package you have to click on the apply button as I have shown you in the image.

Upgrade Packages With Synaptic

With Synaptic you can upgrade the specific package and also the whole system. In this section, I have shown how one can upgrade the system:

A. Upgrade a Specific Package in Linux

If you want to upgrade a specific package then click on the status button first. I will show you all the installed packages and also installed upgradable packages. Now you choose a package according to your liking. Right-click on the package and press the mark for upgrade button. Check the steps in the image below to update a specific package using synaptic:

Upgrade a specific package with synaptic

So by doing this, you can install a specific package.

B. Upgrade the Whole System Using Synaptic

If you want to upgrade the whole system then you click on the reload button on the toolbar which will update to the latest versions. Then click the mark all upgrades button for a smart upgrade.

Upgrade all the packages with synaptic

To make the additional changes press the mark button and then apply.

Press on the mark for upgrading all packages with synaptic

Select the apply button on synaptic

By doing this you can able to upgrade the whole system. By upgrading all the packages you can update the cached packages as well.

Lock a Package Version With Synaptic Package Manager

If you want to lock a version of a specific package then you have to choose the package first. Right-click on the package and it will show the lock version option. So, press the lock version option to lock a package version with Synaptic:

Lock versions with synaptic

By doing this it will lock the version and not upgrade the package when you upgrade the system.

How to Get Information Related to a Package

If you want to know package information then choose a package and right-click on the package. It will show you a window and from the window click on the properties option.

Information of a package with synaptic

The properties option will show a dialog box that contains all the information about the package.

Showing information of the packages with synaptic

In the information panel, you can choose any other option to see the dependencies and installed packages.

Search and Filter the List of Available Packages in Linux

If you want to locate or search for a package then you have to click on the search button and type the package name in the find box.

Search for a package with synaptic

If you want to use the filter option then you can search for filters and it will show the filters on your system.

Search for filter with synaptic

Again to show all the filters you can press the settings option it will show you the filters option and click on the filter button. It will open a new window.

Show the filter from the filter option

From the window, you can see the current, marked, and other filters.

All the filters are mentioned with synaptic

One can easily add or delete filters by pressing the new and delete button.

How to Fix Broken Package Dependencies With Synaptic

If there are any broken dependencies then you can fix the package. First You have to click on the custom filter option and then you have to click on the broken button. This will open all the broken dependencies. If you have no broken dependencies it will be not shown.

Fix the broken dependencies packages with synaptic

If there are broken dependencies then you have to right-click on the package and then click the mark for reinstallation button. So by doing this, you can be able to fix the broken dependencies issue.

List Packages by Section, Status, and Origin

If you want to list all the packages then click on the status option.

Selecting the status bar with synaptic

After clicking the status button you will be able to see the list of all packages, installed packages, upgradable packages, and the packages that are not installed.

List of all packages with synaptic

So by clicking on each option on the left side, you can see the list of packages.

Manage Package Repositories With Synaptic Package Manager

To manage a repository with Synaptic which includes adding the repository to the list, and enabling and disabling the repository you can see the following steps:

1. Adding a Repository in Linux

To add the repository first click on the settings option and it will show you the repositories.

Press on the repository with synaptic

By clicking the repository option, it will show the following software & update option. From the software update window go to the other software option and click on it. It will open a box where you have to add the URL for adding it on the repo source.

Give the url to add the repository

From the image, you can see I have added a URL link to include it in the repository. If you press the add source button then it will add the new repository.

The repositories have been added with synaptic

From the above image, you can see the repositories have been added which add the main and source repos, and then close the window.

2. Enable the Repository With Synaptic

To enable the repository you have to go to the software & updates and other software options. Now check the repository that you want to enable.

Enable the repository with synaptic

I have checked the recently added repositories to enable it. Press the close option after checking the repository.

Reload the system after enabling the repository

Once you close the window, you will be asked to reload the system to save all the changes.

3. Disable the Repository

To disable any repository, you have to uncheck the repository. And then press the close option.

Disabled the recently added repository with synaptic

Once you disable a repository you have to reload the system again to save the changes.

Download the Latest Changelog of a Package

To download the changelog you have to select a package and then go to the package option on the toolbar. If you click on the package option then it will show you the download changelog option. Press that option to download the latest changelog.

Download the changelog with synaptic package manager

How to Remove Synaptic Package Manager

If you want to remove or uninstall the package manager when you do need it then use the following command on Ubuntu:

sudo apt remove synaptic
  • remove: Remove the desired package from the repository.
  • synaptic: The package that I want to remove.

Remove the synaptic package manager

From the image, you can see the package manager has been removed. So you can install and remove the synaptic package manager according to your needs.


In this article, I have tried to describe how synaptic functions, and some useful examples to manage the packages efficiently. Considering how difficult to learn to use a package manager for beginners I tried to keep it as simple as I could. So after reading this article, you will be able to use Synaptic properly and manage the system.

People Also Ask

What does the synaptic package manager display results for applications that have already been removed?
Synaptic mainly shows the already installed, not installed, and available packages. As you can not use the command line in this case you can not see any result of a removed application.

How do unmark the changes?
You can unmark the changes in many ways. Firstly you have to right-click on the package and then choose the unmark option. Otherwise, you can choose the package and then press CTRL + N to unmark a package.

Do I have something set up wrong as I can not find youtubedl-gui on Synaptic?
Until you search the package you can not find anything of this package. This is the most strange thing about the synaptic package manager. If you go to the search option and type the youtubedl-gui then you can able to find it.

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Afia Zahin Oishi

Assalamualaikum, I am Afia Zahin, completed my graduation in Biomedical Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, currently working as a Linux Content Developer Executive at SOFTEKO. A high achieving professional with a strong work ethic and able to work in a team in order to consistently achieve my goal and build my skillset. Able to handle difficult problems with patience and swift decision-making. Read Full Bio

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