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I tried to use NotePad to open system.log and software.log in Windows and it said it couldn't open because file was in use. Is there an editor which can open such files? for Windows XP.

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If the files are open for exclusive write by another application then the operating system won't allow you to open them.

Often you can get away with copying the files that are in use, and then you can at least open the copies to read the contents up to that point in time.

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+1: yes 'exclusive' does mean exclusive. And why wouldn't the OS open log files for exclusive writes? – pavium Jan 14 '10 at 6:11
On the other hand: maybe Tony_Heinrich only wants to open it for reading. Thus, a file viewer would be sufficient. Or an editor which opens locked files as read only. – Martin Jan 14 '10 at 7:53
Yes I want to open files for read only. Those are log files which might contain information I need. I had something fail and it said it look at the system.log file. – Tony_Henrich Jan 15 '10 at 6:44

gvim pretty much opens anything an OS allows it to ...

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But the issue in this case is that the OS won't allow you to... – Sasha Chedygov Jan 14 '10 at 6:45
@musicfreak - no, but since vim doesn't lock a file, you may be able to still open it. it creates a copy in its own buffer. in any case, have you tried ? if an os doesn't allow reading, then we have nothing to talk about ... story finished ... file can't be viewed. – Rook Jan 15 '10 at 1:24
@Rook the answer with >=5 votes mentioned the idea of copying them. – barlop Dec 9 '15 at 17:16

I don't think there are any editors that will open system.log (or software.log) directly, but you can make a copy of it and then edit that file:

  1. Open Event Viewer (under Administrative Tools)
  2. Right Click on the log you want to save.
  3. Save it as a text file (or any format you want).
  4. Edit the file you saved.
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notepad++. It will not only load files in use, but if you minimize it & maximize it again, it will ask you whether you want to reload the file too.

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A quick test (in Windows 7) showed that notepad2 was able to do this, although the contents seemed a bit garbled. May not apply to XP.

Maybe not a viable answer in your case, but if all else fails you could open them in Ubuntu or other Linux OS. Use a live CD and it won't change the system.

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i think rebooting into another OS counts as "making the files not in use anymore", so while accurate, opening them with a LiveCD isn't very useful. – quack quixote Jan 14 '10 at 7:22
Agreed, ~quack. I started to write that part as a comment, then tried the Notepad 2 method. I'll amend a little. – outsideblasts Jan 14 '10 at 7:29

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