Ubuntu 16.04 LTS introduced “Snap” packages, which are a great new way of installing apps. Snaps require different terminal commands–apt-get and dpkg will only allow you to install .deb packages the old way, not Snaps.

Snaps–which have the “.snap” extension–are more similar to containers. Applications in Snaps are self-contained, include all the libraries they need to function, and are sandboxed. They’ll install to their own directory and they won’t interfere with the rest of your system.

Not all apps are available as snaps just yet, but if you come across one that is, here’s how to install it.

RELATED: Ubuntu 16.04 Makes Ubuntu Exciting Again

Search for Available Snap Packages

To see a list of all available packages in the store, open a terminal and run the following command:

snap find

To search for a specific package by name, just add your search term to the end of the snap find command:

snap find name

For a more complete search–searching package descriptions as well as package names–just pipe the output of the snap find command through the grep filtering tool, like so:

snap find | grep search

How to Install a Snap Package

To install a Snap package, use the following command, specifying the package by name. Because this makes changes to the system, you have to add a sudo before the command to run it with root privileges.

sudo snap install package-name

The snap command will download and install the snap package you specified, displaying the progress in the terminal window.

You can launch the application you installed like any other application. If it’s a graphical application, it should appear in your desktop’s applications menu. Otherwise, just start typing the application’s name at the terminal and press the “Tab” key to automatically complete it. You can then press Enter to launch the application or run the command you installed.

How to Update Snaps

To update an installed Snap package, run the following command, specifying the package’s name. If a new version of the Snap is available, it will be downloaded and installed.

sudo snap refresh package-name

There doesn’t appear to be a command that updates all installed Snaps at the moment, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see one added in the future.

How to List Your Installed Snaps

To list your installed Snap packages, run the following command

snap list

You can use this command to search your installed packages, too–just pipe the output through grep again:

snap list | grep search

How to Remove a Snap Package

To remove an installed Snap package from your computer, run the following command:

sudo snap remove package-name

View Recent Changes

Run the following command to view a list of system changes. This displays a list of the Snap packages you’ve recently installed refreshed (updated), and removed, along with the times those operations took place.

snap changes

See More Operations

To see more snap command operations, view the snap command’s manual with the following command. Use the arrow and page up/down keys to scroll through the manual. press the “q” key to quit when you’re done.

man snap

Ubuntu’s developers will likely continue working on the Snap package format and associated tools, so we’ll likely see more command-line options for working with Snap packages in the future.

If you’re interested in creating your own .snap packages, consult Ubuntu’s Snap documentation for more details.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »