The last command in Terminal (on Mac OS X 10.11.2) is supposed to display a list of login history. However, when I type it in, all I get is

user$ last

wtmp begins Mon Jan 11 13:17
user$ last user

wtmp begins Mon Jan 11 13:17

The date printed is the current date and time. Is there something wrong with my system? Might it have something to do with the fact that I have a brewed bash 4.3 in /usr/local/bin?

Since last doesn't work, are there any alternatives? I'm trying to write a shell script that can figure out how long it's been since the login before the current session.

  • 1
    sudo last make any difference?
    – Xen2050
    Jan 11, 2016 at 20:04
  • Ahh, yes, that did work. I did some research and discovered the problem is that I didn't have read-access to private/var/log/system.log. Thank you!
    – Honesty
    Jan 11, 2016 at 22:52
  • 1
    Lots of things act differently with & without sudo, it's something to try if a system-type command like that doesn't work, as long as you know what it should do, and it doesn't have the potential to erase any important files or drives that is.
    – Xen2050
    Jan 13, 2016 at 18:15

1 Answer 1


It turns out I didn't have read access to the log file /private/var/log/system.log, so last didn't display anything. I just have to run sudo chmod 644 /private/var/log/system.log.

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