How to Install and Use BareTail for Real-Time Log File Monitoring

How to Install and Use BareTail for Real-Time Log File Monitoring

Introducing BareTail

Keeping a close eye on log files is a crucial aspect of system administration, software development, and debugging. This is where a tool like BareTail comes in handy, offering real-time monitoring of log files with an easy-to-use interface. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to install and use it, an indispensable tool for anyone dealing with log files.

What is it?

BareTail is a free log file monitoring tool that enables users to view and analyse log files in real-time. It’s lightweight, doesn’t require installation, and can handle large files efficiently. The tool is popular among developers, system administrators, and IT professionals for its simplicity and powerful features.

Installing it

One of the best things about BareTail is that it doesn’t require a traditional installation process. Here’s how to set it up:

  1. Download: Visit the official website ( and download the latest version.
  2. Unzip the File: The download comes as a ZIP file. Extract it to a folder of your choice. This folder will contain the BareTail executable (BareTail.exe).
  3. Run BareTail: Double-click BareTail.exe to start the application. That’s it! No installation, no registry entries, just straight to business.

Using it

Using BareTail is straightforward. Here’s a guide to get you started:

Opening a Log File in BareTail

  • Manual Opening: Click on ‘File’ then ‘Open’ and browse to the log file you want to monitor.
  • Drag and Drop: Simply drag and drop your log file onto the log window.

Navigating the Log File

  • Auto-Scroll: It automatically scrolls to show the latest log entries in real-time.
  • Manual Navigation: You can scroll through the file manually using the scrollbar or arrow keys.


One of the key features of BareTail is its ability to highlight text based on user-defined criteria. This is particularly useful for spotting errors or important information.

  • Add a Highlight: Go to ‘View’ > ‘Highlights’, and define your criteria (text to highlight, colour, etc.).
  • Enable/Disable Highlights: Click on the highlight icon in the toolbar to toggle highlights.


BareTail offers a simple search function:

  • Accessing Search: Press Ctrl+F to open the search box.
  • Search Options: You can search for exact text or use regular expressions for more complex queries.

Tailoring to Your Needs

  • Multiple Files: BareTail allows you to open multiple files in separate tabs.
  • Customisation: You can customise the appearance and behaviour through ‘Options’.

Saving Your Session

BareTail lets you save your current session, including open files and highlights, for quick access later.

  • Save Session: Choose ‘File’ > ‘Save Session’ to save your setup.
  • Load Session: Open a saved session by choosing ‘File’ > ‘Load Session’.

Why Use BareTail?

Efficiency: BareTail is designed to handle large files without significant resource usage, making it ideal for long-running logs.

Real-Time Monitoring: It updates in real time, so you see log entries as they are being written.

Customisation: With features like highlighting and regular expression support, you can tailor the tool to suit your specific needs.

Portability: Being a standalone executable, BareTail can be run from a USB stick or a network drive, making it highly portable.

Simplicity: Its straightforward interface makes it accessible even to those who are not tech-savvy.


BareTail is a powerful yet simple tool for anyone who needs to monitor log files closely. Its ease of use, combined with powerful features like real-time monitoring and customisable highlighting, make it an essential tool in the arsenal of system administrators, developers, and IT professionals. Give BareTail a try, and experience the simplicity of monitoring log files efficiently.

Remember, always use tools like BareTail responsibly and ensure you have the necessary permissions to view and analyze the log files.


Hi, my name is Stephen Finchett. I have been a software engineer for over 30 years and worked on complex, business critical, multi-user systems for all of my career. For the last 15 years, I have been concentrating on web based solutions using the Microsoft Stack including ASP.Net, C#, TypeScript, SQL Server and running everything at scale within Kubernetes.