I am a regularly using meld to compare files and folders on my Linux boxes / VMs. I really like it, and it works reliably and even treats symbolic links reasonably, but I have a problem:

The Delete entry in the context menu (when right-clicking on a folder or file name) is always grayed out; the same is true for the Delete button in the button bar below the menu bar. This is not life-threatening, but can become quite a pain when the comparison result shows a large number of files or folders you don't need any longer, and you have to switch to the command line or another file manager to delete them.

This happens e.g. in debian buster (meld 3.20.0).

Is there a solution to this problem?

Please note that I have logged into the graphical environment as root user (for testing purposes), so this is not a permission problem.

  • 1
    Have you confirmed that the option appears normally if you are not root and are comparing things you own? I'm just wondering if the melds devs have disabled this when running as root as a precaution.
    – terdon
    Sep 17, 2020 at 9:44
  • This is incredible. Thank you! You are right. I'll try to find out out how to circumvent this. I need it regularly when installing a new version of e.g. Debian. Then, in the new system, I usually pull in the /etc tree from a running system and compare this with the new one, This saves a lot of time with configuring the new system and, of course, lets me learn a lot. If you put your comment as answer, I'll vote it up and accept it.
    – Binarus
    Sep 17, 2020 at 10:15
  • 1
    GUI systems are not really supposed to be used as root. I would urge you to look into command line tools instead. That said, could you post a simple answer explaining that this seems to be by design? That way your question can be marked as answered.
    – terdon
    Sep 17, 2020 at 10:17
  • I'd happily given you the credit, but now have written an answer myself, as you proposed. Regarding the command line: Actually, I don't like GUIs that much, but I am regularly forced to use them solely for the diff and merge tools. Some months ago, I have put two complete working days into trying to find a reasonable diff and merge tool for the command line / terminal (like WinMerge for Windows or Meld for Linux), and have tried out everything I could get my hands on. To my regrets, none of those tools can even do remotely what Meld or WinMerge can do.
    – Binarus
    Sep 17, 2020 at 10:28
  • Thanks for posting the answer and don't worry about the credit. I have more rep than I need anyway :) Remember to accept your answer when the system allows you to!
    – terdon
    Sep 17, 2020 at 10:31

1 Answer 1


As @terdon has explained, this behavior is by design. GUI programs should not be used by root.

When I log into my graphical environment as normal user, meld allows me to delete files and folders as expected (of course only if I have sufficient permissions on the file system object in question); in any case, the Delete context menu entry and toolbar button are not grayed out then.

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