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I have text file, like log.txt which constantly updates. I want some text editor which I can open on separate monitor to display this file. I want this text editor to "reload" text file from disk periodically (every N seconds) and to scroll down. What can you recommend?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

If you prefer a GUI, you can use BareTail:

  • free and paid versions available
  • Windows
  • Portable
  • Like "tail -f" on Unix systems, but with many more features

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  • Tail multiple files

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  • Configurable highlighting

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  • Optimised real-time viewing engine
  • View files of any size (> 2GB)
  • Scroll to any point in the whole file instantly
  • View files over a network
  • Configurable line wrapping
  • Configurable TAB expansion
  • Configurable font, including spacing and offset to maximise use of screen space
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i like this tool, very handy – javapowered Sep 3 '14 at 20:09
i tried all suggestions but this tool is the best, it's very fast and works fine even when log file grows fast – javapowered Sep 4 '14 at 6:07

If you just want to watch the log as it grows, look at the 'tail' utility in a command line window.

There's a port of some of the most common unix utilities to Windows at That package has the advantage that it requires nothing in the way of support - just drop the files somewhere in your path and they just work.

To use tail to watch a log file, open up a command line window (cmd.exe) and do:

tail -f <log.txt>

It'll just keep scrolling out the contents as the log file grows. Ctrl-C to stop.

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thanks, this works – javapowered Sep 3 '14 at 12:43

If you have Git (or GitHub) installed, you can find the tail utility available in Git Shell*. You can use it to follow any file:

tail -f logfile.log

Those experienced with Unix and Linux terminals will find this very familiar. Try tail --help for more information.

* Usually this is a modified instance of Windows PowerShell.

You can also find the less utility installed with Git. As per the help text:

F                    Forward forever; like "tail -f".

Note: I don't recommend installing Git just for this. But if you already have Git installed, there's no need to find third party tail or less utilities.

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You can use Windows PowerShell (free, included in Windows XP and later):

Get-Content test.txt -Wait

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To change width:

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Useful info left by ADTC as a comment: you should also change the Defaults if you want the width to be saved and restored on a new PowerShell instance, see screenshot below.

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i like it because it doesn't require additional software. default window width is 80, can I add some argument to change window width to 120 or 150? – javapowered Sep 3 '14 at 20:04
@javapowered sure, added to answer. – Franck Dernoncourt Sep 3 '14 at 21:38
You may want to mention that you should also change the Defaults if you want the width to be saved and restored on a new PowerShell instance. You can use this screenshot link. – ADTC Sep 4 '14 at 4:03
@ADTC Thanks, added in answer! – Franck Dernoncourt Sep 4 '14 at 21:49

Log Expert is an open source alternative that is quite feature-rich. It has a so called tail mode to view the end of the file.

Some standard features:

  • colorization of rows based on regex patterns
  • search

Some original features:

  • columnizers - split a log row into fields and interpret fields as date, time, or various other data types (you can write your own custom columnizer).
  • time sync - you can sync two files, and jumping to a certain time in one of them will sync the other to the same (or close) time

This Youtube video contains a screencast of the tool.

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Or you can use less, a free and open-source tool written and maintained by Mark Nudelman.

less +F log.txt

The advantage of less is that you can toggle it between being a file viewer (this disables automatic scrolling, and lets you search and scroll manually) and a log follower. Ctrl+C takes you into "less" mode (file viewer mode). And Shift+F returns you to follow mode.

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The question is tagged Windows. I don't think less would work there – Timmy Sep 3 '14 at 19:01
@Timmy: There are ways to install less on Windows. If the asker needs help doing so, he can post a comment here and ask for advice. – unforgettableid Aug 27 '15 at 18:22

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