Skip to content


Switch branches/tags

fsnotify is a Go library to provide cross-platform filesystem notifications on Windows, Linux, macOS, and BSD systems.

fsnotify requires Go 1.16 or newer.

API docs:

It's best to read the documentation at, as it's pinned to the last released version, whereas this README is for the last development version which may include additions/changes.

Platform support:

Adapter OS Status
inotify Linux 2.6.32+ Supported
kqueue BSD, macOS Supported
ReadDirectoryChangesW Windows Supported
FSEvents macOS Planned
FEN Solaris 11 In Progress
fanotify Linux 5.9+ Maybe
USN Journals Windows Maybe
Polling All Maybe

Linux and macOS should include Android and iOS, but these are currently untested.


A basic example:

package main

import (


func main() {
    // Create new watcher.
    watcher, err := fsnotify.NewWatcher()
    if err != nil {
    defer watcher.Close()

    // Start listening for events.
    go func() {
        for {
            select {
            case event, ok := <-watcher.Events:
                if !ok {
                log.Println("event:", event)
                if event.Has(fsnotify.Write) {
                    log.Println("modified file:", event.Name)
            case err, ok := <-watcher.Errors:
                if !ok {
                log.Println("error:", err)

    // Add a path.
    err = watcher.Add("/tmp")
    if err != nil {

    // Block main goroutine forever.
    <-make(chan struct{})

Some more examples can be found in cmd/fsnotify, which can be run with:

% go run ./cmd/fsnotify


Will a file still be watched when it's moved to another directory?

No, not unless you are watching the location it was moved to.

Are all subdirectories watched too?

No, you must add watches for any directory you want to watch (a recursive watcher is on the roadmap: #18).

Do I have to watch the Error and Event channels in a separate goroutine?

As of now, yes (you can read both channels in the same goroutine, you don't need a separate goroutine for both channels; see the example).

Why don't notifications work with NFS, SMB, FUSE, /proc, or /sys?

fsnotify requires support from underlying OS to work. The current NFS and SMB protocols does not provide network level support for file notifications, and neither do the /proc and /sys virtual filesystems.

This could be fixed with a polling watcher (#9), but it's not yet implemented.

Platform-specific notes


When a file is removed a REMOVE event won't be emitted until all file descriptors are closed. It will emit a CHMOD though:

fp := os.Open("file")
os.Remove("file")        // CHMOD
fp.Close()               // REMOVE

The fs.inotify.max_user_watches sysctl variable specifies the upper limit for the number of watches per user, and fs.inotify.max_user_instances specifies the maximum number of inotify instances per user. Every Watcher you create is an "instance", and every path you add is a "watch".

These are also exposed in /proc as /proc/sys/fs/inotify/max_user_watches and /proc/sys/fs/inotify/max_user_instances

To increase them you can use sysctl or write the value to proc file:

# The default values on Linux 5.18
sysctl fs.inotify.max_user_watches=124983
sysctl fs.inotify.max_user_instances=128

To make the changes persist on reboot edit /etc/sysctl.conf or /usr/lib/sysctl.d/50-default.conf (some systemd systems):


Reaching the limit will result in a "no space left on device" or "too many open files" error.

kqueue (macOS, all BSD systems)

kqueue requires opening a file descriptor for every file that's being watched; so if you're watching a directory with five files then that's six file descriptors. You will run in to your system's "max open files" limit faster on these platforms.

The sysctl variables kern.maxfiles and kern.maxfilesperproc can be used to control the maximum number of open files.


Spotlight indexing on macOS can result in multiple events (see #15). A temporary workaround is to add your folder(s) to the Spotlight Privacy settings until we have a native FSEvents implementation (see #11).

Related Projects