This must've been done before: I want to keep a log file open in terminal so I can monitor updates to it as they occur. My searches are coming up with everything but this situation... I must be missing some terminology or something key, because people do this all the time inside of other programs (NetBeans, or rails server, for example).

  • 5
    Ah, I've found it. tail -f myfile.log. That does it nicely. I love linux.
    – wulftone
    May 20, 2011 at 19:23

3 Answers 3


Try with:

tail -f your.log

where -f stands for follow.


Another way:

watch tail -n20 your.log

OK, kind of a silly use of watch - but you might find the watch command useful for other things.

  • 5
    The watch option is better for files that are going to be renamed/removed and recreated (either by normal operation or by something like logrotate) during the time you are watching, otherwise tail -f is more efficient. May 20, 2011 at 20:07
  • 6
    @David: tail -F handles that. May 21, 2011 at 10:11
  • @grawity: Thanks, you learn something new every day! May 21, 2011 at 11:25

An alternative to @cYrus's answer is:

less +F file.log

The benefit is that less can also truncate long lines for you with the -S flag, preventing them from wrapping around the terminal screen while allowing you to scroll left/right. Instead of piping tail -f file.log through cut or something similar, you can just:

less -S +F file.log

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