Tail a Log File on Windows & Linux

It turns out there are a bunch of people on StackOverflow looking for ways to tail a logarithm file, but there wear ’ thyroxine appear to be many resources for all the different tips and tools to do this. If you ’ re a Java or .NET developer, just getting started with tailing log files, or a seasoned developer who needs something promptly and easy to set up and go, there are several options. In fact, there may be excessively many .
Check out some tools I found that make tailing a log charge a walk in the ballpark. Tailing multiple log files ? Want to tail logs remotely from a vane browser ? This list covers a whole array of needs .

The de facto standard for linux systems is the ever-handy “ tail ” command. want I say more ?

$ tail -f /var/log/syslog -f /var/log/myLog.log

  • Quick and easy
  • No additional installation required
  • Can be used with multiple –f filenames in the same window as shown in the script example above
  • Unix only. See Tail for Win32 at the bottom of this post for a port to Windows.

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less -F

Brian Storti ( @ brianstorti ) offers an option method to the standard dock -f : less +F, which causes similar behavior as tail -f but allows for easily switching between navigation and watching mode. however, he notes that if you need to watch multiple files simultaneously, the standard tail -f offers better output signal .

  • Easy to use
  • Creates behavior comparable to tail -f
  • Allows for easy switching between navigation and watching mode
  • Not ideal for watching multiple files simultaneously

Windows Powershell
Powershell is one of the most dominate windows apps for ops. This border on doesn ’ metric ton have any supernumerary features but can be perfective for opening a promptly commandlet window and keeping an eye on the status of a file .
Use the follow dim-witted syntax to show the tail end of a log file in real-time .

Get-Content myTestLog.log –Wait

You can besides filter the logarithm right at the command tune using regular expressions :

Get-Content myTestLog.log -wait | where { $ _ -match “ WARNING ” }

  • Quick and easy to get going
  • Practically zero learning curve
  • No additional installation necessary for newer windows machines
  • Requires Windows Powershell (duh!)
  • Slow for large files
  • Basic functionality but some 3rd party extensions are available. For example, you need multiple cmdlet windows to monitor multiple files
  • How-To Geek provides a step-by-step tutorial for getting tail-like functionality with Powershell that you may find useful.

Stackify Tail a Log
Retrace is an APM instrument that provides all the patronize you need to monitor and optimize your applications, including enhanced log management which in full indexes and tags your logs. Retrace besides tails log files in real-time .

  • Remotely tail log files via web browser
  • Search all log files, including iis logs
  • See how log files are trending and monitor specific logs
  • Supported for Windows & Linux systems
  • Free trial, low monthly cost

Vim log file tailing
Developed by Martin Krischik ( @ martin_krischik ), this handy-dandy plugin for Vim allows you to use “ the best tail plugin you can get. ”

  • Vim die-hards can tail log files without ever leaving their favorite editor!
  • Multiple file tailing using tabs
  • “Preview” window updated according to your Vim usage
  • Read the open issues on the Google Code page before installing
  • Check out Krischik’s other projects here


To tail a file in Emacs ( @ emacs ) : start Emacs, hit M-x ( Alt and x keys in concert ), and type “ tail-file ”. then, enter the filename to tail. The net solution is that this will spawn an external stern -f procedure. Emacs is much more than a tool for tailing log files, however ; it ’ s packed with other features and functionality ranging from project planning tools to debugging, a mail and news lector, calendar, and more .

  • Customizable using Emacs Lisp code or a graphical interface
  • Packaging system for downloading and installing extensions
  • Unicode support for nearly all human scripts
  • Built-in documentation
  • Tutorial for new users
  • Content-aware editing modes including syntax highlighting

Multitail for UNIX log files
Developed by Folkert van Heusden ( @ flok99 ), MultiTail was inspired by wtail, which was written by André Majorel. This is one of the more complete UNIX offerings, in my base opinion. It ’ s a relatively new instrument compared to some others on this list, with a stable version released in February 2015 .

  • Uses wildcard matching to see if a more recently spawned logfile needs to be monitored
  • Uses regular expressions for filtering
  • Source code available in public Github repository
  • All major UNIX platforms supported

BareTail log tailing for Windows
Developed by Bare Metal Software, BareTail is a free tool for monitoring log files in real-time. The “ Bare ” in the diagnose might prompt some to ask, “ How can you get any barer than regular Tail ? ” It turns out the name is a carryover from the software development group that built it, and this instrument provides a color-coded GUI above and beyond good ‘ ole Unix Tail .

  • Developed for Windows
  • Monitors multiple files using tabs
  • Configurable highlighting
  • Allows instant scrolling to any point in the file, even for large files
  • Free version available; a registered license is $25. There’s also a BareTailPro, which is packed with even more features and offers a free demo.


Developed by John Walker of Fourmilab ( @ Fourmilab ), this joyride doesn ’ metric ton appear to have been supported in a long time ( the web site is date 1997 ) and may not play well with the latest distros of Unix. You have been warned .

  • Allows you to monitor multiple log files on multiple servers at once
  • Automatically checks if the monitored process has spawned a fresh log file and adjusts monitoring accordingly
  • Old script (circa 1997) may not play well with newer Unix distros/Perl patches (built withi Perl 4.0, patch level 36)
  • UNIX only

TraceTool error logging
Developed by Thierry Parent, TraceTool is a bang-up option for .NET developers needing to build their own log tailing feature. The code comes with a fortune of might and features, but it might not be angstrom good a choice if you simply want to run a promptly program and be off on your gay way. You can besides check it out on SourceForge .

  • Powerful tool with lots of customizability via code.
  • There is a learning curve, depending on how far you want to take TraceTool. Check out the “TraceTool Overview” screenshot on the CodeProject page and you’ll see what I mean.
  • Not a quick fix. If you simply want to open a quick executable and see the tail of a few log files, pick something else. This will take you some time to set up and get configured.
  • With great power comes great responsibility. The CodeProject discussion section has comments from users experiencing several different kinds of problems. Yet despite any problems users have, they consistently ranked the page highly, with an average vote of 4.97 at the time of this writing.
  • Source code is readily available for download, but you’ll need a .NET development environment setup to compile it.
  • Windows only.


SnakeTail.net is developed by SnakeNest. Looks can be deceiving – I thought this Google Project was long dead but was pleasantly surprised that bugs are silent being fixed and features added arsenic recently as September 2016 .

  • Low memory & CPU footprint even with large files
  • Customizable shortcut keys to jump around files quickly
  • Can tail a log directory where the latest log files are stored
  • Windows only

Hardcore fans of Notepad++ ( @ Notepad_plus ) frequently like to work in it all sidereal day, every day. nowadays you can tail a log file in Windows without ever leaving Notepad++ by using the Document Monitor plugin ( granted – hardcore fans probably already know all about this ! ) :

  1. Open Notepad++ then from the top menu select “Plugins > Plugin Manager > Show Plugin Manager,” then check the option for “Document Monitor,” then click “Install.”
  2. Notepad++ will prompt you to restart the program (not restart your computer).
  3. Upon opening Notepad++ again, select “Plugins” and you should now see the “Document Monitor > Start to monitor” option. This will refresh the view of your document automatically every 3 seconds.

Developed by Tobias Klauser ( @ t_klauser ), inotail is a basic tool with minimal options compared to the others on this number. But for those of you yearning for simplicity, this merely might be the log tail tool you ’ re looking for. The most recent update, however, is from back in 2009, and the most late version, inotail 0.5, was released in 2007 .

  • Git and GitHub repos available
  • Uses the inotify API to determine if a file needs to be reread

tail windows log files
Developed by Paul Perkins, Tail for Win32 is a Windows version of the UNIX ‘ tail ’ command, providing a immediate and dirty manner to use the Unix Tail command you ’ re used to on Windows systems. many folks might consider this completely unnecessary on a windows system with the preponderance of Powershell these days, but it does provide a copulate nice features you wouldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate otherwise have :

  • Highlighted keyword matching
  • Can send email notifications via SMTP or MAPI when keywords are found
  • The ability to watch multiple files in real-time simultaneously
  • Can process files of any size on both local and networked drives
  • Download Tail for Win32 on SourceForge

JLogTailer is a Java log tailer with even expression features that makes it possible to view any log file entries in real-time. It ’ s an easy-to-use tool that ’ s helpful when you need to see what ’ sulfur going into the end of your logarithm files as it happens while you tinker with your code. additionally, you can use JLogTailer to tail multiple log files if needed .

  • View log entries in real-time
  • Simple to use
  • Works for tailing multiple log files


With so many programs generating log files, other tools are utilitarian when you have target access to the file organization that stores each log. But what if you don ’ t have direct access to your log file ? That ’ s where WebTail comes in, enabling you to tail any log file that can be viewed via a web server. In addition to allowing you to view entries the moment they ’ re appended to log files, WebTail requires less bandwidth than you ’ five hundred differently use to download the integral file several times .

  • Useful for tailing log files stored on web servers
  • Save bandwidth by eliminating the need to download complete files multiple times
  • Tail any log file viewable via a web server


An advanced tail -f command with GUI, MakeLogic Tail is the fag end for Windows. It can be used to monitor the logarithm files of versatile servers and comes with a diverseness of other intuitive and utilitarian features .

  • Shows the last several lines of growing log files
  • Real-time monitoring
  • Requires JRE 5.0
  • Easy to use GUI
  • Search current and all open log files
  • Highlight select keywords in various colors
  • Monitor most recently opened documents
  • Cascade or Tile the log file windows


Wintail is a free program created by Andy Hofle after he struggled with viewing log files in real-time with Windows Notepad. There was no program like tail -f in UNIX for Windows at the clock time, so he wrote his own. It ’ s a utilitarian joyride enabling you to have multiple tiled windows assailable simultaneously, and you can besides pause updates to examine files more closely when needed .

  • Supports large files over 2GB
  • Error highlighting
  • Drag-and-drop files you wish to monitor into the title or menu bar to open them
  • Create shortcuts to frequently-monitored files
  • Added support for Windows Server 2012 in November 2015


If you ’ rhenium looking for an intuitive, easy-to-use tail application for Windows, LogExpert is a solid option offering search functionality, bookmarking, trickle views, highlighting, time stamps, and other useful features that make monitoring a less torment job .

  • Search functions including RegEx
  • Flexible filter view
  • Columnizers
  • Highlight lines using search criteria
  • Supports Unicode, SFTP, log4j XML files, and third-party plugins
  • Plugin API for more log file data sources


A multi-platform GUI application for browsing and searching through long, complex logarithm files, glogg can be described as a graphic, interactional combination of grep and less. An open-source tool released under the GPL by Nicolas Bonnefon, glogg functions on both Windows and Mac, making it a functional tool for any developer .

  • Use regular expressions to search for events in log files
  • Designed to help you spot and understand problems in the massive logs generated by embedded systems
  • Also useful for sysadmins searching through logs on databases or servers
  • Second window shows results from the current search
  • Supports grep/egrep like regular expressions
  • Colorizes logs and search results
  • Follows logs written to a disk in real-time

I ’ d love to hear about your go-to methods for tailing log files on Windows, so share your favorite tips and tools below.

source : https://alltopus.com
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