What is the command line equivalent of the Nautilus feature called "Safely Remove Drive". Specifically, I am removing a USB flash drive.


5 Answers 5


The udisks command is most likely what you are looking for.

While sudo unmount /dev/sdXY will work, udisks can do this without root level (sudo) permissions.

If you have a drive /dev/sdXY, mounted, where X is a letter representing your usb disk and Y is the partition number (usually 1), you can use the following commands to safely remove the drive:

udisks --unmount /dev/sdXY
udisks --detach /dev/sdX

For a practical example, if I have the partition /dev/sdb1 mounted, I would run this to unmount and detach it:

udisks --unmount /dev/sdb1
udisks --detach /dev/sdb

If your drive is not mounted, or was never mounted, simply use the second command:

udisks --detach /dev/sdb

I originally found this through this question: https://superuser.com/a/430470/176493.

Using udisks2:

In the newer ubuntu distributions (I'm unsure of when the switch occurred), udisks2 is installed instead of udisks.

Mirroring the commands above, to unmount and detach a disk with udisks2:

udisksctl unmount -b /dev/sdXY
udisksctl power-off -b /dev/sdX

Example if my drive is /dev/sdb1:

udisksctl unmount -b /dev/sdb1
udisksctl power-off -b /dev/sdb

Similarly to above, power-off can be used to detach the drive even if there are no partitions mounted, or no partition was ever mounted:

udisksctl power-off -b /dev/sdb
  • I get Detach failed: Not Authorized when I try to run it without root privileges. (Not a serious issue, but a small correction.) Oct 18, 2015 at 9:59
  • 2
    Yes, I mounted with sudo, but I also umounted before trying to --detach. It's a trusty release of ubuntu server. Oct 18, 2015 at 13:54
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    @morhook see updated answer with udisks2 support!
    – daboross
    Jul 13, 2016 at 23:49
  • 1
    awesome! Thank you for this! I have been trying to move all of my activities to the terminal as much as possible, and this is one that I could not figure out how to do, since I write iso's to USB sticks all of the time, and need a way to eject them via the cli. Thanks again!
    – DPS
    Feb 16, 2020 at 0:49
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    @AddisonKlinke In that case, using only the second command (--detach or power-off depending on your udisks version) should work.
    – daboross
    Oct 14, 2021 at 6:28

The actual equivalent to Nautilus Mount/Unmount operation is gvfs-mount -m -d /dev/ice /some/directory and gvfs-mount -u /some/directory. This uses the same API that Nautilus uses, GIO virtual file system (gvfs), which provides different tools to use several services as mount points, such smb, NFS, FTP, block devices, etc.

To identify which device you need to unmount just use gvfs-mount -l which should be enough.

This solution has the peculiarity that it doesn't require for elevated permissions, since everything is managed by the umount/gvfsd/polkit services, which further resemblances the similarity with Nautilus behavior.

  • 3
    This seems to be the most correct answer. Although many of us are used to thinking of udisks (suggested in other answers) as "the way" non-root users mount and unmount removable disks on the desktop, as stated here gvfs-mount may use other mechanisms. (On my Ubuntu MATE Utopic system, the udisks package isn't even installed.) Oct 6, 2014 at 1:52
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    Ubuntu 18.40 has gio which is the replacement for gvfs-mount.
    – studog
    Mar 6, 2019 at 19:12
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    @studog yes; specific example: gio mount -e /media/$USER/MY_STICK
    – jez
    Aug 23, 2022 at 16:26

Once you know the device, possibly using the df info as in @rcpao answer, the best way to "eject" the disk is, imho, using the same command that the graphical interface is using:

udisksctl unmount --block-device /dev/sdc1

I have a script to do a backup to a disk that I know will mount under /media/romano/movlin, and after the backup I do:

udisksctl unmount -b $(mount | grep movlin   | cut -d" "  -f1)

Here, mount | grep movlin | cut -d" " -f1 will extract the device that is mounted under the label "movlin", (would be /dev/sdc1 in that case), and then it unmounts it.

  • Is it really necessary to manually run sync before udisksctl unmount? Oct 6, 2014 at 1:57
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    Probably not. But I am quite unsure of the correct behavior of the cache in general; I sometime feel that the USB drive is still flashing after the umount... during few seconds. Let it say it's a remnant of the old sync; sync; sync && poweroff...
    – Rmano
    Oct 6, 2014 at 4:24
  • @Rmano I have seen the flashing on a supposedly dismounted flash drive (usually done through a gui under KDE) many times. I try to wait it out before unplugging it. This does look (to my untrained eye) like something is not quite right. It would be even worse with a flash drive with no activity indicator light.
    – Joe
    Oct 8, 2014 at 20:32
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    Rmano, since udisks is no longer present by default in Ubuntu udisksctl may be a preferred solution. udisksctl power-off --block-device /dev/sdc turns off the light on an external USB Flash drive so it might be suitable as the next command to follow yours.
    – H2ONaCl
    Jan 3, 2016 at 1:38
  • Other way to get the device findmnt -n -M /media/romano/movlin -o SOURCE => /dev/sdc1 Apr 10, 2021 at 20:14
  1. 'ls -l /dev/disk/by-id/' to find the device names of your flash drive and its partitions.

    lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root  9 Sep 16 10:49 usb-PNY_USB_2.0_FD_AAC3170000000954-0:0 -> ../../sdk
    lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Sep 16 10:49 usb-PNY_USB_2.0_FD_AAC3170000000954-0:0-part1 -> ../../sdk1
    lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Sep 16 10:49 usb-PNY_USB_2.0_FD_AAC3170000000954-0:0-part2 -> ../../sdk2

    /dev/disk/by-id/usb-PNY_USB_2.0_FD_AAC3170000000954-0:0-part1 is a symlink to /dev/sdk1

  2. If your distribution does not have /dev/disk/by-id/, you can use 'df' to find the mount point of your flash drive.

    myuser@myhost:~$ df
    Filesystem                   1K-blocks       Used  Available Use% Mounted on
    /dev/mapper/ubuntu--vg-root 1916153032  658404668 1160390336  37% /
    none                                 4          0          4   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
    udev                          16438692          4   16438688   1% /dev
    tmpfs                          3289976       2156    3287820   1% /run
    none                              5120          0       5120   0% /run/lock
    none                          16449860      18768   16431092   1% /run/shm
    none                            102400         48     102352   1% /run/user
    /dev/sda1                       240972      98990     129541  44% /boot
    /dev/sdc1                     60915712      20992   60894720   1% /media/myuser/SD024-64GB
    /dev/sdk2                         1004        876        128  88% /media/myuser/UEFI_NTFS
    /dev/sdk1                      7970172    5798804    2171368  73% /media/myuser/NTFS

Thus /media/myuser/UEFI_NTFS -> /dev/sdk2 <- usb-PNY_USB_2.0_FD_AAC3170000000954-0:0-part2

At this point, see daboross's answer for unmount, power off, and detach commands using 'udisksctl' and 'udisks' with your discovered mount points and disk device name.

  1. 'udisksctl unmount -b' or 'umount' using either /dev/sdc1 or /media/myuser/SD024-64GB.

    myuser@myhost:~$ udisksctl unmount -b /dev/disk/by-id/usb-PNY_USB_2.0_FD_AAC3170000000954-0:0-part1
    Unmounted /dev/sdk1.
    myuser@myhost:~$ udisksctl unmount -b /dev/disk/by-id/usb-PNY_USB_2.0_FD_AAC3170000000954-0:0-part2
    Unmounted /dev/sdk2.


    myuser@myhost:~$ sudo umount /dev/sdc1
    [sudo] password for myuser: 


    myuser@myhost:~$ sudo umount /media/myuser/SD024-64GB
    [sudo] password for myuser: 
  2. You should be able to see the flash drive's eject icon disappear in nautilus as soon as umount finishes.

  3. 'udisksctl power-off -b /dev/sd{letter}{partition_number}' to turn off the disk.

    myuser@myhost:~$ udisksctl power-off -b /dev/disk/by-id/usb-PNY_USB_2.0_FD_AAC3170000000954-0:0


  1. The device is typically of the format "/dev/sd{letter}{partition_number}" where {letter} is the disk, and {partition_number} is the partition number within that disk. Your disk may have more than one partitions mounted, so you will need to unmount all of the mounted partitions before the disk itself.
  • 2
    df looks very useful for identifying where the device is.
    – H2ONaCl
    Oct 5, 2014 at 19:17
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    For a flash drive, this is reasonable. For a disk drive, "Safely Remove" also spins it down, which this solution does not do (see the answer by DaboRoss for that). Oct 6, 2014 at 0:47
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    Yeah, udisks --detach is helpful for detaching drives completely after unmounting.
    – daboross
    Oct 6, 2014 at 0:50
  • 1
    df and umount are standard UNIX utilities. It is always good to know them, because these will always work, while udisks is dependent on dbus and a running udisksd. Oct 6, 2014 at 4:25
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    @NateEldredge: "For a flash drive, this is reasonable..." – actually, it's not and I'm down voting for this reason: last year I had to do an app qa deployment and naively used a quick command along the lines of cp /path/to /drive && umount drive. This rendered 2 flash drives (temporarily) unwritable until I realised it was the command that caused it. Running "Scan & repair" on a Windows machine fixed the drives. DaboRoss' answer below is much safer.
    – Andy E
    Oct 6, 2014 at 12:32

eject from the eject package:

sudo eject /dev/sdX

appears to umount all partitions, and put the device in a state that you must remove and reattach it to remount.

  • For a few application this eject command is the best way to do it. Most of the other answers are "good enough" but technically the Eject Icon on Nautalis does not do things like power-off the device. In my experience eject is closer to the functionality of the eject usb button itself. If you want to avoid sudo you can add yourself to the disk group (requires log-out and log in). The command for this is "sudo adduser user disk"
    – SpiRail
    Feb 14, 2018 at 10:56

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