Console app on macOS

The Console app in macOS is a system-wide viewer for debug messages and log files. You can use it to track down errors in applications or just get an idea for what’s going on in your system.

Most everything in this app is not intended for the average user to view, as it’s made for developers who have a better understanding of the macOS operating system. Warnings and errors are very common during normal use of your computer, so don’t get worried if you see a lot of them here.

Reading The Console

You can launch the Console app from Spotlight by pressing Command+Space and searching for it, or from the Utilities folder in your Applications directory. (Open Finder and select “Applications” to find it.)

The first thing you’ll see is the console itself. This logs every message sent out by processes and services running on your system. It updates very quickly, so you’ll have to use some sorting if you want to make any sense of it.

Console message window

Up in the toolbar, there’s a button called “Now,” which will automatically scroll the window down as new messages come in. This can be useful if you’re trying to debug in real time.

Console toolbar


You can also choose to only view Errors and Faults, which will filter out everything without a red or yellow dot next to it, and only show the important things you might want to see.

There’s also a search bar here, which has the added functionality of being able to search by different parameters. Just type anything in, press Enter, and then change the parameter from the “Any” dropdown:

Console search menu

You can use this to narrow down the console to only show messages relevant to your problem.

Another view is the “Activities” panel, which will sort console messages according to the activity they’re associated with:

Console Activities view

These are ordered hierarchically, so you’ll have to click the white “+” button next to each one to expand it.

The Log Viewer

Console log viewer

Your system’s logs function like more detailed, more permanent console messages. You’ll find them under the “Reports” section in the sidebar.


The logs are split into different categories, and you’ll find most user-level apps have their logs in “~/Library/Logs”, split up by the application. Lower level processes might have theirs in “/Library/Logs” or “/var/log.” These all exist on disk as well, so you can navigate to these folders to copy the file itself if you need to send it to someone else.

There are also the “System Reports” and “User Reports” categories, which will group together logs for system processes and user apps.

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Anthony Heddings is the resident cloud engineer for LifeSavvy Media, a technical writer, programmer, and an expert at Amazon's AWS platform. He's written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek and CloudSavvy IT that have been read millions of times.
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