What's a good linux command line utility for watching a log file live? It's probably obvious but I totally forgot it.

4 Answers 4


There are two things that leap immediately to mind...

tail -f 


  • thank you sir. I'll give ya the answer since Linker3000 has so many points, but I still appreciate the help! Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 1:25
  • also less -F /path to log (i.e. less -F /var/log/messages) Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 11:30
  • I like multitail - besides specifying multiple file parameters you can view several logs at a time with a wildcard (ie multitail myapp.*.log)
    Commented May 3 at 16:48

Assuming you are in the same folder as the logfile:

tail -f logfilename

If you want to watch a specific aspect of your file, say just IPs in an access log, you can do :

tail -f your_file | cut -d' ' -f1 | logtop

assuming that IPs are the first column of your log file.


The tailf command is functionally equivalent to tail -f but better in terms of performance. From man tailf:

tailf will print out the last 10 lines of a file and then wait for the file to grow. It is similar to tail -f but does not access the file when it is not growing. This has the side effect of not updating the access time for the file, so a filesystem flush does not occur periodically when no log activity is happening. tailf is extremely useful for monitoring log files on a laptop when logging is infrequent and the user desires that the hard disk spin down to conserve battery life.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .