93

I would like to open up a file using less, and have it automatically scroll the file similar to tail -f.

I know that I can do less file, and then hit Shift-F to forward forever; like tail -f.

I need less because it provides the --raw-control-chars flag, which is necessary because my input is colorful.

1
  • Your explanation for the need of less does not make sense. tail passes control characters without modifications. Jul 12, 2023 at 8:41

3 Answers 3

107

use the command "F" while inside of less.

less mylogfile.txt
F

or, to do so automatically, use the +cmd option:

less +F mylogfile.txt
2
  • less +F does not quit when I press q
    – alper
    Dec 25, 2021 at 11:08
  • 2
    You have to press CTRL+C to stop watching the file, then press q
    – varogen
    May 19, 2022 at 21:31
19

I prefer tail -F

-F - The -F option implies the -f option, but tail will also check to see if the file being followed has been renamed or rotated.

The less equivalent: less +F --follow-name

1
  • Unfortunately it is not a complete equivalent: 1. it fails if the file does not exist at the time less is started. 2. less frequently crashes when the content of the file is replaced. Jul 12, 2023 at 8:37
-1

Both of those 2 options have the pro/con, for the more detail explanation, pls refer to the blog: https://www.brianstorti.com/stop-using-tail/ ; the author explained it fairly well.

Simply put:

  • tail -F *.txt uses for reading multiple files is better than less +F *.txt.

In contrast, using less +F error_log.txt (using Ctrl-C & F to unload/load the new data) is better than tail -F error_log.txt for reading 1 file only.

1
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    Dec 21, 2022 at 21:29

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