tail-f.exe: Simple tail for Microsloth Windows

Gene Michael Stover

created 2004 February
updated Sunday, 2012-12-16T17:35:59-0800

Copyright © 2004--2006, 2012 Gene Michael Stover. All rights reserved. Permission to copy, store, & view this document unmodified & in its entirety is granted.

What is this?

Sometimes you want to run "tail -f myfile", but you are in a Microsloth Winders environment. Looks like a job for Cygwin, but maybe you don't have access to Cygwin, you don't have permission to install software on the computer, or the amount of time you'll be using the computer (if you can run that command) is so short that it doesn't justify the effort of installing Cygwin.

You need tail-f.exe. It does what "tail -f" does on unix.


The license agreement is the "MIT license". It is in the header of the source code file.


You may download tail-f.exe or tail-f.c.


The executable file should be fine, but if you want to compile it yourself, you should be able to do it with a single compile command. The program is self-contained & in just one file.

I think later versions of Visual C++ will bitch about the old-style function argument definitions I use. Too bad for Visual C++.


To install, just copy the tail-f.exe file into your file system. For ease of use, I recommend a location which is in your path. I often use C:\bin\.

There is no installation program. There are no Registry entries or support files to create or edit.

To un-install, just delete the tail-f.exe file.


Assuming tail-f.exe is in your path, to use tail-f.exe on a file called debug.log, run this command in a "cmd" window: "tail-f debug.log". This will behave as "tail -f debug.log" would on unix.

To end a tail-f.exe process, type Ctrl-C into the terminal window.

There are no command line options, & tail-f.exe does not read from standard input. The only way to use it is to give it exactly one filename on the command line.


The real tail command on unix supports many options. tail-f.exe supports none of them other than "-f".

Notice that you do not give a "-f" option to tail-f.exe. The "-f" is part of the program's name.


If you think unix is an implementation, then allow me this errant belief, & when I write "unix", you read it as "unix-like operating system".