How To: Logcat for non-developers

Logcat is a command line tool for developers to retrieve system logs from an Android device. When Android apps crash or fail to work properly, there is often very little information presented to the user to indicate what went wrong. Hence, logcat is very useful for looking inside the device in order to work out what happened.

If you are using an app and it fails, 'taking a logcat' and sending the logs to the developer is one of the most helpful things you can do. They are an immense help.

Logcat is part of adb ('android debug bridge') which is part of the Android sdk (software development kit). Intrepid and daring users can view How to use adb and take a logcat on how to install and use it themselves.

However, installing an sdk and setting up logcat from the command line is probably too technical or too much work for most casual users.

Alternatively, there are apps which can also retrieve system logs. A quick search turns up a couple:

CatLog: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nolanlawson.logcat
aLogcat: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.jtb.alogcat

and there may be more. (Note: For Android Jelly Bean, these apps may require root.)

Whether using adb or an app, the process to 'take a logcat' is similar.

1. Make the problem happen
2. As soon as possible afterwards, take the logcat
3. Send the logs to the developer

You may find it useful to clear the logs first (whether using adb or an app) before doing this, otherwise you may end up with a very long log file containing a lot of irrelevant stuff.

So, the next time you use an app and there is a problem, please consider taking a logcat and sending them to the developer. You will be helping the developer help you.