Color me a sucker for cute, colorful, and distinct application icons. Look at the Garageband icon. Obvious, right? Maps, too. Calendar, Reminders, Notes, even Mail are obviously descriptive app icons.
Maybe not so obvious is LogTail, a nifty little Mac application that lets you view both local and remote logs. From what I can tell, it’s an owl and that means good eyesight; or, in the case of an app, a way to view something up close. Like macOS logs, or remote server logs. There are many ways to do that, here are the three best.
Built-in vs. Add-on
Apple allows Mac users to view logs a couple of ways. The first is the most difficult and not for the faint of heart. It’s the Terminal.app inside the Utilities folder which is inside the Applications folder. For that you’ll need to know a few basic Unix commands but it works. For the point and click crowd Apple gives us the Console app (also in the Utilities folder). This is better than what you see in Terminal.app, but geeky nonetheless.
Not bad for free, right? Console has a few features to make log browsing a bit easier, but still, it’s better if you know what you’re doing if you’re trying to make sense of what the app displays.
What if you want more and need to connect to a remote computer to check logs? At the other end of the Console scale is LogTail, a useful utility that gives Mac users both a local real-time log viewer, and a remote real-time log viewer, each with built-in live monitoring.
There is a bit of visual geek going on here but the advantages outweigh the geek.
LogTail does logs in real-time, as they happen; with automatic polling or manual refresh. The app is document-based so you can tail, as they say, or view multiple local logs or even remote logs at one time. Files can be filtered and searched based upon content. Specific log files can be bookmarked for easy reference at another time.
What makes LogTail more geeky and more useful at the same time is the built-in ability to view log files on remote computers via SSH. It manages SSH credentials with easy– just add Host, User Name, Path, Port, and Authentication method. Then you can browser the remote computer and grab logs as you need.
LogTail feature a Clear and Reload view, automatic line wrapping to match the Mac’s screen size, and you can even setup custom font and view color options. The latest version uses Apple’s Swift 3 for coding, lets you open files in the Finder, and uses Safari-like tabs.
Caveats? Not many, but a few. The worst appears to be based upon remote server file size. Any log file beyond a few hundred megabytes seems to lag quite a bit at times. Not always, so there might be a server load or bandwidth component in there, but I noticed the same thing when conducting a search on larger log files.