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The zero dependency Node.js module for tailing a file


license npm npm

Made with ❤️ by Luca Grulla

  1. TOC {:toc}


npm install tail


Tail = require('tail').Tail;

tail = new Tail("fileToTail");

tail.on("line", function(data) {

tail.on("error", function(error) {
  console.log('ERROR: ', error);

If you want to stop tail:


To start watching again:


The only mandatory parameter is the path to the file to tail.

var fileToTail = "/path/to/fileToTail.txt";
new Tail(fileToTail)

If the file is missing or invalid Tail constructor will throw an Exception and won't initialize.

try {
  new Tail('missingFile.txt')
} catch (ex) {

Optional parameters can be passed via a hash:

var options= {separator: /[\r]{0,1}\n/, fromBeginning: false, fsWatchOptions: {}, follow: true, logger: console}
new Tail(fileToTail, options)

Constructor parameters

  • separator: the line separator token (default: /[\r]{0,1}\n/ to handle linux/mac (9+)/windows). Pass null for is binary files with no line separator.
  • fsWatchOptions: the full set of options that can be passed to as per node documentation (default: {}).
  • fromBeginning: tail from the beginning of the file (default: false). If fromBeginning is true nLines will be ignored.
  • follow: simulate tail -F option. In the case the file is moved/renamed/logrotated, if set to true will start tailing again after a 1 second delay; if set to false it will emit an error event (default: true).
  • logger: a logger object(default: no logger). The passed logger should follow the folliwing signature:
    • info([data][, ...])
    • error([data][, ...])
  • nLines: tail from the last n lines. (default: undefined). Ignored if fromBeginning is set to true.
  • useWatchFile: if set to true will force the use of fs.watchFile over delegating to the library the choice between and fs.watchFile (default: false).
  • encoding: the file encoding (default:utf-8).
  • flushAtEOF: set to true to force flush of content when end of file is reached. Useful when there's no separator character at the end of the file (default: false).

Emitted events

Tail emits two events:

  • line
tail.on('line', (data) => {
  • error
tail.on('error', (err) => {

The error emitted is either the underline exception or a descriptive string.

How to contribute

Node Tail code repo is here Tail is written in ES6. Pull Requests are welcome.


Tail was born as part of a data firehose. Read more about that project here. Tail originally was written in CoffeeScript. Since December 2020 it's pure ES6.


MIT. Please see License file for more details.