tailf — follow the growth of a log file


tailf [OPTION] file


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.

Mandatory arguments to long options are mandatory for short options too.

−n, −−lines=N, −N

output the last N lines, instead of the last 10.

−V, −−version

Display version information and exit.

−h, −−help

Display help text and exit.


This program was originally written by Rik Faith ( and may be freely distributed under the terms of the X11/MIT License. There is ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY for this program.

The latest inotify based implementation was written by Karel Zak (


tail(1), less(1)


The tailf command is part of the util-linux package and is available from

  tailf.1 -- 
Created: Thu Jan 11 16:43:10 1996 by
Copyright 1996, 2003 Rickard E. Faith (

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