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I'm looking for a Windows program/script/command line function that works like Linux's watch program.

watch periodically calls another program/whatever and shows the result, which is great for refreshing an output file or similar every second:

watch cat my-output.txt

or, more powerfully:

watch grep "fail" my-output.txt

I've looked for it in cygwin's library, but it doesn't seem to be present.

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7 Answers 7

up vote 5 down vote accepted

watch is available in Cygwin, in the procps package as listed here (this info can be found via the package search on the website, here). I don't think this package is installed by the default cygwin setup, but it is one I usually select on new installs in order to have the watch command available.

The location of tools in packages usually match package names in Linux distributions (the package containing watch is procps on Debian and Ubuntu too) so if the Cygwin package search function fails you, info for/from Linux distributions may offer clues.

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Write your own. Let's say file test.bat contains :

  timeout /t 5
goto loop

and call it via, for example:

test echo test

will echo "test" every 5 seconds.

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Powershell has the while command you can use like linux:

while ($true -eq $true) {ping -n 1 -w 5000 >nul; sleep 5}

Linux version:

while true; do ping -n 1 -w 5000 >null; sleep5; done


while ($true -eq $true) {netstat -an | findstr 23560; sleep 5; date}


while ('0' -eq '0') {netstat -an | findstr 23560; sleep 5; date}

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You can also make up a delay using the PING command, for example:

@echo off
  dir c:\temp
  REM 5000mS (5 sec) delay...
  ping -n 1 -w 5000 >NUL
goto loop
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I wrote this little PowerShell module to do what you were looking for. Just put it in


and run import-module watch in PowerShell.

# Author:       John Rizzo
# Created:      06/12/2014
# Last Updated: 06/12/2014
# Website:      http://www.johnrizzo.net

function Watch {
    param (
        [int]$interval = 10,

    process {
        $cmd = [scriptblock]::Create($command);
        While($True) {
            Write-Host "Command: " $command;
            sleep $interval;

Export-ModuleMember -function Watch

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I had the same issue when needing to check the file size of a file actively being worked on by another process. I ended up cloning the functionality of watch on Windows. The compiled exe as well as the source is available at the site.

watch for Windows

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Old post, but this is how I would do it.

PowerShell: while(1){netstat -an|grep 1920;start-sleep -seconds 2;clear}

while(1) = while true, which will be indefinitely.

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