tail – deliver the last part of a file


tail [ +-number[lbc][rf] ] [ file ]

tail [ -fr ] [ -n nlines ] [ -c nbytes ] [ file ]


Tail copies the named file to the standard output beginning at a designated place. If no file is named, the standard input is copied.

Copying begins at position +number measured from the beginning, or -number from the end of the input. Number is counted in lines, 1K blocks or bytes, according to the appended flag l, b, or c. Default is -10l (ten ell).

The further flag r causes tail to print lines from the end of the file in reverse order; f (follow) causes tail, after printing to the end, to keep watch and print further data as it appears.

The second syntax is that promulgated by POSIX, where the numbers rather than the options are signed.


tail file

Print the last 10 lines of a file.  

tail +0f file

Print a file, and continue to watch data accumulate as it grows.  

sed 10q file

Print the first 10 lines of a file.  




Tails relative to the end of the file are treasured up in a buffer, and thus are limited in length.

According to custom, option +number counts lines from 1, and counts blocks and bytes from 0.

Tail is ignorant of UTF.