SimpleActivityLogger reference

There is very little to the usage of SimpleActivityLogger

Events are logged to a file called events.log in the public application data path.
On Windows XP this is C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\SimpleActivityLogger\ and
on Windows 7 onwards this is C:\ProgramData\SimpleActivityLogger\
Note: It is possible that you or your System Administrator may have changed the location of the public application data path, in which case the file will be wherever the location has been changed to.

By default, all supported events are logged. If you wish to change which events are logged, launch the SimpleActivityLogger application via the Start menu and choose Options -> Settings
Note that you only need to run this to change the settings or to view the log. You do not have to have it running for logging to happen.

If you were previously running SimpleActivityLogger v1.x and wish to find your old log file, you will find it in
C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\SimpleActivityLogger.txt unless you or your System Administrator changed the location.
You can simply copy & paste the contents of that file into events.log in the new location if you wish to maintain continuity.


The main window of the application is a simple viewer for the log file.

By default it will automatically refresh whenever the log file is updated. You can turn this off via Options -> AutoRefresh
When AutoRefresh is off you can refresh manually with View -> Refresh or by pressing F5 or Ctrl-R

If you need to edit the log file manually, then simply choose File -> Edit.
Note: this launches the system default text editor, whatever it may be. In most cases it will be Notepad unless you have something like TextPad installed. After you save and quit, SimpleActivityLogger will detect that the file has been updated and refresh its display (unless AutoRefresh has been disabled)

At the bottom of the viewer is a section for recording a User event. Simply type some text into the text field and then either hit Return or else click ‘Log This’ and the text will be appended to the log file with the current date & time. It will show up immediately in the viewer pane.


To change settings, select Options -> Settings

Events to log

Service Start & Stop Logs the SimpleActivityLogger service starting and stopping.
NOTE: You will only see a service stop event if the service is explicitly stopped.
System Shutdown Logs the system shutting down.
NOTE: Not logged if “fast startup” (Win10) or “hybrid sleep” (Win8) is enabled. See below.
Logon & Logoff Logs user logon and logoff.
Lock & Unlock Logs a user locking and unlocking the computer.
Screensaver Start & Stop Logs the screensaver starting and stopping.
Monitor Power On & Off Logs the primary monitor switching in and out of Standby mode.
NOTE: This setting requires Windows Vista or later.
User Switch Logs switching between user accounts.

A note about System Shutdown events
Under Windows 8 and Windows 10, a shutdown event might not be recorded by SimpleActivityLogger when the PC is shut down (as opposed to being rebooted). However, you will see a user logoff event logged (if logging is enabled for these).
This happens if “fast startup” (Windows 10) or “hybrid sleep” (Windows 8) is enabled, since the PC isn’t actually shut down and so there is legitimately no shutdown event to record. Disabling this feature fixes this, at the expense of slower startup times.

Username formatting

Select how the user is identified in a log entry.

Choose from:

  • The user’s Full Name, rather than their username. If this isn’t set then the username is used instead.
  • The SAM-compatible domain-qualified username (eg. DOMAIN\USER).
  • Just the username.


By default, SimpleActivityLogger will insert a separator line each time a new day begins, to make it easier to visually differentiate each day when human-reading the log file in the viewer.

Some users have reported that they would like to suppress this separator line in order to make it easier to machine-read the log file. Checking the ‘Disable day separator’ box will do that.

Custom timestamp formatting

When the Enable box is unchecked (the default), SimpleActivityLogger will format the timestamp for each log entry using the Short Date and Long Time formats that are specified in the Regional settings in the Control Panel in Windows. This is sometimes referred to as the System Locale.

When the Enable box is checked, you can provide a format string. The format string may contain any combination of regular characters, and special formatting codes which are preceded by a percent sign (%) sign.

Specifier Replaced by Example
%a Abbreviated weekday name appropriate for locale Thu
%A Full weekday name appropriate for locale Thursday
%b Abbreviated month name appropriate for locale Aug
%B Full month name appropriate for locale August
%c Date and time representation appropriate for locale Thu Aug 23 14:55:02 2001
%#c Long date and time representation appropriate for locale Thursday, August 23, 2001, 14:55:02
%C First two digits of the year (00-99) 20
%d Day of the month, zero-padded (01-31) 23
%D Short MM/DD/YY date, equivalent to %m/%d/%y.
Americans should note that in other countries %d/%m/%y is common. This means that in an international context this format is ambiguous and should not be used.
%e Day of the month, space-padded ( 1-31) 23
%F Short YYYY-MM-DD date, equivalent to %Y-%m-%d 2001-08-23
%g Week-based year, last two digits (00-99) 01
%G Week-based year 2001
%h Abbreviated month name appropriate for locale (same as %b) Aug
%H Hour in 24h format (00-23) 14
%I Hour in 12h format (01-12) 02
%j Day of the year (001-366) 235
%m Month as a decimal number (01-12) 08
%M Minute (00-59) 55
%n New-line character ('\n')
%p AM or PM designation PM
%r 12-hour clock time appropriate for locale 02:55:02 pm
%R 24-hour HH:MM time, equivalent to %H:%M 14:55
%S Second (00-61) 02
%t Horizontal-tab character ('\t')
%T ISO 8601 time format (HH:MM:SS), equivalent to %H:%M:%S 14:55:02
%u ISO 8601 weekday as number with Monday as 1 (1-7) 4
%U Week number with the first Sunday as the first day of week one (00-53) 33
%V ISO 8601 week number (00-53) 34
%w Weekday as a decimal number with Sunday as 0 (0-6) 4
%W Week number with the first Monday as the first day of week one (00-53) 34
%x Date representation appropriate for locale 08/23/01
%#x Long date representation appropriate for locale Thursday, August 23, 2001
%X Time representation appropriate for locale 14:55:02
%y Year, last two digits (00-99) 01
%Y Year 2001
%z ISO 8601 offset from UTC in timezone (1 minute=1, 1 hour=100)
If timezone cannot be determined, no characters
%Z Timezone name or abbreviation appropriate for locale
If timezone cannot be determined, no characters
%% A literal percent sign %

Additionally, various locale-specific modifiers can also be inserted between the percent sign (%) and the special formatting code in order to request an alternative format, where applicable:

Modifier Meaning Applies to
E Use the locale’s alternative representation %Ec %EC %Ex %EX %Ey %EY
O Use the locale’s alternative numeric symbols %Od %Oe %OH %OI %Om %OM %OS %Ou %OU %OV %Ow %OW %Oy
# Remove leading zeroes, if any %#d, %#H, %#I, %#j, %#m, %#M, %#S, %#U, %#w, %#W, %#y, %#Y

The above formatting codes correspond to the C++ function strftime, for which many examples are available online and documentation for strftime should also be applicable for SimpleActivityLogger (non-standard differences excepted)