Observer : Watch a Folder for Changes on a Windows PC

There are times when we want to know what is actually happening on our computer. We want to know how and when the files are being accessed and what kind of access is being used. For finding out the answer to these questions without getting into a heavy duty system debugger, we can use an open-source tool called Observer.

Observer is a small portable app that does with its title says – it observers a folder for file system events. It can tell you when and which of the files is being accessed. It can also tell you what kind of access is being used – whether the file was opened, closed, read, modified etc.

Observer has a very minimal user interface. On the top of the Observer window, we can enter the folder that we want to observe for filesystem events. There is a browse button for easy selection of the folder. Under this folder text field, we have options using which we can choose what we want to observe for. We can choose to observe for file modifications, file creation, file deletion, file renaming, and we can also enable or disable file exclusions.


The file exclusions (the files you do not want to monitor) can be selected by clicking on the “Exclusion” button near the bottom of this window. Finally in order to start the monitoring (observing) for the file events on the selected folder, we can click on the “Start” button.

In the window it starts to populate the list as the file event take place in real time. It shows the full path and name of the file, the access time, the access count and the type of access. We can quickly know when and how many times a file was modified using this free utility.

You can download Observer from