Stack OverflowBest tail (log file visualization) freeware tool?
[+64] [20] VonC
[2008-09-22 04:05:14]
[ productivity software-tools logging tail ]

I have many programs generating tons of logs in files.

What freeware do you know, either for Windows or for multi-platforms (if they are in java for instance), able to tail (display the end of) those files ?

A plus would be their capacity to display some line in a certain visual style depending on 'grep' criteria

Quick update so far:

"tailforwin32" and "Tail for Win32" are one and the same :) - cruizer
thanks, I just updated the question - VonC
Went to download bare tail, its not free. - Justin
Tailforwin is wonderful, not sure why this question is closed as not constructive!! - mishrsud
[+46] [2009-03-10 15:13:17] Hugo

I'd suggest LogExpert [1]. It can split lines, has highlighting features, search/filter and such stuff.

enter image description here


Very interesting +1: I will check it out :) - VonC
That's hot baby!!! The columnizer plugins have HUGE potential to make the log files easily readable! - Kieveli
There was some problem with logexpert that made my mvc application restart when logged with log4net. I am not sure why or how. Probably could be because of the unclosed file handles. - Jey
The feature list of LogExpert is amazing. But when monitoring multiple files with a lot of action, then it uses lots of CPU and RAM. - Rolf Kristensen
how is it more people did not recommend this one? - w--
I Have been using it for a Year now. Very handy. BUT Very buggy too, when used on high performance environment (many logs per sec). Keeps crashing. - Mika Jacobi
+ It is not maintained anymore since 2008 - Mika Jacobi
No longer true. Last release: Jul 19 2011 - seems stable enough to me when used on our massive log files that get updated very frequently. - Matthew Lock
logexpert has an interesting feature where you can set an expression to trigger a command line program with the line etc as a parameter. I'm thinking of ways to use this in order to generate other alerts. - Matthew Lock
[+40] [2008-09-22 04:29:59] user20197 [ACCEPTED]

My personal favorite for the Wintel platform (at home and at work) is Baretail @ It can easily display multiple files in a tabbed interface, has a VERY low footprint, and has customizable rules for highlighting and adding visual effects to the logs as they are displayed using text pattern matching & RegEX.

It is 100% free as in beer, even for commercial use and can store both preferences & the files last displayed on a per user basis so that every time you login, you can automatically open up your active logs!

Another great use for this program is viewing very large text files. I've used it to search through multi-GB XML files that any normal text editor would choke on. - Eric Petroelje
(1) It's worth paying for the pro version of baretail. The extra search functionality you get with this version is invaluable, and it makes short work of chewing through large log files. This is one of my most frequently used tools. - Ellis
(1) The free version has a splash screen that cannot be disabled. The pro version removes this and also supports searching which is invaluable. I used Baretail with a client recently, but I couldn't help thinking that there's room for improvement in the log-viewer space. - Drew Noakes
[+13] [2009-03-10 15:31:04] Jon M

Notepad++ [1] comes with a 'Document Monitor' plugin which I use for tailing log files. I always have NPP open anyway so it fits in nicely, plus you get tabbed documents (which it remembers on close/re-open).


Excellent. I have always the latest npp and I was not aware of this feature. +1 - VonC
[+11] [2010-07-13 21:48:56] Kyle Browning

We at Grasscove built Survlog [1] for OS X. It handles a lot and looks very very clean.

We think being able to view log files that are remote is what sets us apart from other tailing applications as well as multiple log files at once.

enter image description here

Edit: I work for Grasscove :P


Very cool app ;) +1. Just make sure to read… and… - VonC
Thanks VonC, I edited the comment. - Kyle Browning
Love this app!!! - keithics
+1 Great app for logs @ MAC OSX - user674887
[+9] [2010-01-15 05:48:40] Scott

Apache Chainsaw [1], using a LogFilePatternReceiver to parse & tail the log files (and it supports filtering, colorizing, search, etc)

alt text


Very interesting tool. Thank you. +1 - VonC
[+8] [2010-01-15 06:49:36] nanda

MultiTail [1]... Check the screenshot here:

This application is available in *nix system and mac users can even use it from Macports.

The difference is that it creates multiple windows on your console (with ncurses).
It can also monitor wildcards: if another file matching the wildcard has a more recent modification date, it will automatically switch to that file. That way you can, for example, monitor a complete directory of files.
Merging of 2 or even more logfiles is possible.

alt text


Thank you for mentioning this tool. The "switching automatically to a more recently updated log file" is neat. +1 - VonC
[+6] [2008-09-22 04:13:13] Richard Franks

Maybe not the best, but one of the prettiest is glTail [1] - you can modify the tabs on the sides with your own regexps or custom events.


[+5] [2010-11-08 15:30:47] oluies

I have been using (Java Based)


  • Monitor ("follow") text files to which information is being appended asynchronously (e.g. log files)
  • Jump quickly to the top or bottom of followed files
  • Clear the contents of the text areas which display the contents of followed files (singly or all-at-once)
  • Delete the contents of followed files (singly or all-at-once)
  • Configure the buffering strategy & latency of the threads which follow files
  • Open files using Drag-and-Drop
  • Maintain session data across invocations of Follow (i.e. Follow remembers which files a user opens so it can re-open those files the next time it runs)
  • Pause log files and replay where paused
  • Highlight & search for text within a log file
  • Restart a log while following

alt text

Excellent. +1. I will check it out. - VonC
well, Baretail and logexpert seem to work better on Win, but this might be a visual option on other platforms such as solaris if one cant get multitail running - oluies
[+4] [2008-09-22 04:07:26] VonC

For instance, with eclipse java editor, I like to use ntail [1]

But that means using an heavy development environment.

Do you know some stand-alone tool ?


[+4] [2008-09-22 04:13:04] Paul Wicks

I've always just used

tail -f <filename>

which works pretty well on linux/unix systems, but would require something like mingw or cygwin on windows.

However, the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools [1] (the one you want is towards the bottom of the page) come with a tail utility, among other things.


[+4] [2011-02-16 00:33:24] Rolf Kristensen

Because of the performance problems I experienced with Log Expert when on remote desktop with several "large" files loaded (50 MByte each), then I decided to roll yet another tail application.

enter image description here

SnakeTail can tail a growing log file:

  • Monitor “large” text log files
  • Monitor Windows Event Logs (Without needing administrator rights)
  • Multiple Window Modes supported (MDI, Tabbed, Floating)
  • Save and load entire window session. Can load session file at startup when given as command line parameter
  • Sentence highlight with colors based on keyword match (Includes regex support)
  • Quickly jump between highlighted sentences using keyboard shortcuts
  • Tails circular logs where the log file is periodically truncated/renamed
  • Tails log directory where the latest log file is displayed (Includes regex support)
  • Search in the entire text log file
  • Tail new log files with a simple drag drop from Windows Explorer
  • Filtering of Windows Event Logs using regular expressions
  • Display simple process statistics in window title bar (RAM + CPU usage + TRX/Sec)
  • Stop and start Windows service by right clicking in the tail window
  • Change tail window background color
  • Change tail window text color
  • Change tail window icon
  • Minimize to tray
  • Low memory usage independent of log file size
  • Low cpu usage even when more than 100 lines/sec
  • Works well over remote desktop
  • Supports Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, Win2k8, Win7
  • Requires .NET 2.0
  • GNU GPL License v3

Very interesting. +1 - VonC
Couldn't open log file with this one. - Robert.K
(1) @Robert.K - Please create an issue at google-code - Rolf Kristensen
@Rolf Kristensen - I have uninstalled the app, sorry. :/ Maybe you should think about built in issue reporter? - Robert.K
[+3] [2008-09-22 04:10:39] cruizer

For Windows, I use [1]


Could you provide a link to that tool in your answer ? I am sure I can google it, but I can not edit your answer to add it myself - VonC
ok i've edited it - cruizer
[+3] [2008-09-22 04:11:24] GustlyWind

If you are using windows this is one good tail from sourceforge!!

Also chek MTAIL a very good utility

nice. I will check it out - VonC
[+3] [2009-03-18 19:14:33] Ascalonian

I personally really like MakeLogic Tail [1]. I have been going through the list on this site and comparing it to MakeLogic. I actually like this one the best.

alt text


Very interesting. I will check it out. Thanks. +1 - VonC
[+3] [2010-10-08 21:43:48] Rolf Kristensen could also be an option.
The sources are here [1].
The freeware is also presented in this website [2].

A free (open source) log monitor / log viewer for:

  • Files and folders
  • Incomming UDP traffic
  • EventLogs
  • SQL- Server tables
  • Atom and RSS feeds
  • StdOut and StdErr


  • Multiple actions, such as highlight, ignore and sound, based on event content.
  • Supports multiple simultaneous listeners in each session.
  • Supports several simultaneous sessions (MDI).

Requires the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0

alt text


Interesting software. +1. But will Johan Idstam ( be able to maintain this freeware? - VonC
[+2] [2008-09-22 04:47:47] Steve Hawkins

You can try Tail For Win32 ( if you need a Windows utility. It allows you to tail multiple files at the same time. It allows you to stop and restart the file listing if you want to get a closer look at a particular area of the file.

[+1] [2008-10-29 17:00:46] knowuh

I just looked at jLogTailer [1]

Its a standalone java jar, and it seems to work pretty well, at least on OSX -- problably on windows too.


interesting, thank you for the reference - VonC
[+1] [2009-10-16 15:48:41] user191293

Highly recommend LogExpert. I tried most of these here, and I highly recommend LogExpert. It has highlight, filter, search, monitor multiple files, bookmarks. It's great and it's free.

[+1] [2010-10-08 22:09:31] Björn Pollex

The Kiwi Log Viewer [1] has a working free version, but some important features are limited there (e.g. recent files list limit is 2).


[0] [2009-06-29 13:42:55] Nuno Furtado

I use less, either in windows or in linux