> Linux Man Page: "tail"


Search with Google


The Linux Documentation Project maintains an archive of snaphots of the (English language) core Linux manual pages that are maintained by Michael Kerrisk. Corrections and additions are welcome, but review the "Help Wanted" list, first.

Man pages belonging to programs are usually distributed together with those programs. Therefore, the core Linux man-pages mainly contains the pages for system calls and library routines, special devices, and file formats. However, it also contains documentation for a few programs, in cases where the authors or maintainers of the program do not distribute man pages themselves.

This page is part of release 3.11 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the project, and information about reporting bugs, can be found at


man page(1) manual page Table of Contents


tail - output the last part of files


tail [OPTION]... [FILE]...


Print the last 10 lines of each FILE to standard output. With more than one FILE, precede each with a header giving the file name. With no FILE, or when FILE is -, read standard input.

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

keep trying to open a file even if it is inaccessible when tail starts or if it becomes inaccessible later; useful when following by name, i.e., with --follow=name

-c, --bytes=N
output the last N bytes; alternatively, use +N to output bytes starting with the Nth of each file

-f, --follow[={name|descriptor}]
output appended data as the file grows; -f, --follow, and --follow=descriptor are equivalent

same as --follow=name --retry

-n, --lines=N
output the last N lines, instead of the last 10; or use +N to output lines starting with the Nth

with --follow=name, reopen a FILE which has not changed size after N (default 5) iterations to see if it has been unlinked or renamed (this is the usual case of rotated log files)

with -f, terminate after process ID, PID dies

-q, --quiet, --silent
never output headers giving file names

-s, --sleep-interval=S
with -f, sleep for approximately S seconds (default 1.0) between iterations.

-v, --verbose
always output headers giving file names

--help display this help and exit

output version information and exit

If the first character of N (the number of bytes or lines) is a ‘+’, print beginning with the Nth item from the start of each file, otherwise, print the last N items in the file. N may have a multiplier suffix: b 512, k 1024, m 1024*1024.

With --follow (-f), tail defaults to following the file descriptor, which means that even if a tail’ed file is renamed, tail will continue to track its end. This default behavior is not desirable when you really want to track the actual name of the file, not the file descriptor (e.g., log rotation). Use --follow=name in that case. That causes tail to track the named file by reopening it periodically to see if it has been removed and recreated by some other program.


Written by Paul Rubin, David MacKenzie, Ian Lance Taylor, and Jim Meyering.

Reporting Bugs

Report bugs to <>.


Copyright © 2007 Free Software Foundation, Inc. This is free software. You may redistribute copies of it under the terms of the GNU General Public License <>. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

See Also

The full documentation for tail is maintained as a Texinfo manual. If the info and tail programs are properly installed at your site, the command

info tail

should give you access to the complete manual.

Table of Contents

use open software!