I am looking for a graphical application to read logs with. Personally I always use less to read logs, and it fulfills my need 100%. However selling "Why don't you use this text mode command with no visible menus and it has to be started manually from the command line. It works really well!" to my colleagues is never going to fly (in the general case, I might find some exceptions).

The feature I consider to be absolutely critical for being suitable to read logs is that when searching for something, the application should highlight all the matches within the text that is visible on the screen.

If I am looking at say 50 lines of a log and within those there are around 20 matches of all the different phrases I am searching for (using regular expressions), there is absolutely no way I want to click next, next, next, next, ... to go though them one by one. I want to have them highlighted all at once. This is an absolute requirement for being a usable log reading application (less does this by default, I am not even sure if it is possible to turn off).

The second feature I want is that after highlighting all matches on the screen, when I search for next, it should skip all the matches on the screen (like less -a does). This is possible to live without, because I could just press page-down and then next, but this is incredible much more awkward than just having next do the right thing.

Do you have suggestions for a free viewer or editor that supports this?

I have tested a few applications, but they all fail:

Only one single match highlight

Fails to install as non-admin (i.e. not tested (see comment below))

  • 1
    "Fails to install as non-admin (i.e. not tested)"? I thought admin accounts were meant to install things. I also thought non-admin accounts were not meant to install things. But now I think I'm wrong! Could you explain?
    – MvanGeest
    Jun 17, 2010 at 18:04
  • 1
    Note to the "close-happy" people. Logging is a highly programming related topic; the tag "logging" is on the third page og popular tags, Jeff Atwood have written many blog posts about logging (google.com/…). How is tools for reading logs not programming related?
    – hlovdal
    Jun 17, 2010 at 18:12
  • The non-admin point is because I am currently on a business trip and just borrowing a computer where I do not have administrator rights. So for the applications that failed to install I have not been able to test.
    – hlovdal
    Jun 17, 2010 at 18:14

3 Answers 3


Try gvim (the graphical version of vim: http://www.vim.org/ ). It has your desired feature of highlighting every search occurrence on the screen.


XCode has the highlighting behaviour you're looking for - I don't think it skips pages the way you want it to, though.


Sublime Text highlights all the matches in the file by searching or just simply selecting the text.

Sublime Text highlights all the matches

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