Typically, whereas engaged on the Linux command line, you may wish to execute a command repeatedly in order to trace any change in output. Properly, you will be blissful to know there exists a command line utility that permits you to do that. The device in query is Watch, and on this tutorial, we’ll focus on a few of its fundamental options utilizing some simple to know examples.

However earlier than we do this, it is value mentioning that each one examples used on this article have been examined on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

Linux watch command

As already talked about, the watch utility allows you to execute a command repeatedly. Following is the syntax of this command:

watch [options] command

And this is how the device’s man web page describes it:

watch runs command repeatedly, displaying its output and errors (the
first screenfull). This lets you watch this system output change
over time. By default, this system is run each 2 seconds. By
default, watch will run till interrupted.

Following are some Q&A-styled examples that ought to provide you with a good suggestion on how the ‘watch’ command works.

Q1. How watch command works?

The baisc utilization of watch could be very simple – all it’s a must to do is to run the device with a command identify as enter. For instance:

watch date

The above command produced the next output on my system:

How watch command works?

The primary line of the output tells the output of the command ‘date’ is being refreshed after each 2 seconds (that is the default time interval), adopted by the present date/time of the system. The second line is the precise output of the ‘date’ command that is getting refreshed after each couple of seconds.

Q2. Tips on how to make watch spotlight distinction between updates?

As already defined within the earlier part, the output of the command being tracked is repeatedly up to date (after 2 seconds by default). In case you need, you may as well make ‘watch’ spotlight the a part of output that is altering between updates.

This you are able to do utilizing the -d command line choice. For instance:

watch -d date

And this is how the watch command highlights the adjustments now:

How to make watch highlight difference between updates?

Q3. Tips on how to customise replace interval?

As already talked about, the default replace interval is 2 seconds. Nevertheless, if you’d like, you’ll be able to change this worth by utilizing the -n command line choice, which requires you to go the brand new interval worth as its enter.

For instance:

watch -n 5 date

This command will ensure the output will get up to date after each 5 seconds. Please word that intervals much less that 0.1 seconds aren’t allowed.

Word: To ensure the interval hole is honored very exactly, use the -p command line choice. This is how the person web page describes this selection:

Make watch try and run command each interval seconds. Strive it
with ntptime and see how the fractional seconds stays
practically) the identical, versus regular mode the place they continu?
ously improve.

This autumn. Tips on how to flip off the header in output?

If you’d like, you may as well ask ‘watch’ to show off the header displaying the interval, command, and present
time on the high of the show, in addition to the next clean line. This may be carried out utilizing the -t command line choice.

For instance:

watch -t date

This is the output produced by the command above:

How to turn off the header in output?

So you’ll be able to see the header was fully stripped off.

Q5. Tips on how to make watch exit when the output adjustments?

If you’d like the ‘watch’ command to exit after a change in output is detected, use the -g command line choice.

For instance:

watch -g free

So anytime the reminiscence consumption within the system adjustments, the watch command will exit.


As you’d have understood by now, watch is a superb method to preserve observe of adjustments, be it on system degree, listing degree, and even file degree. Right here, on this tutorial, we’ve mentioned a number of key command line choices of ‘watch.’ As soon as you’re carried out training these, head to the device’s man web page to be taught extra.

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