User’s Guide

Getting start with Plaso

Getting started with Plaso can be challenging at first. This page describes some of the steps we recommend taking.

I just want to run Plaso or log2timeline

If you just want to run Plaso we stronly recommend to use a packaged release unless you are the adventurous type that is familiar with troubleshooting installation issues.

Have a look at the information below to get familiar with running the Plaso tools, such as log2timeline.

We also strongly recommend to first read up on various tradeoffs of timeline analysis:

I know the good old Perl version

If you are one of those people that liked the old Perl version of log2timeline but really would like to switch use all the nifty features of the Python version. Fear not, here is a guide to help you migrate.

I want to develop Plaso

There are various ways to develop with Plaso. We expect the more common use case that you would like to extend Plaso by adding a parser or plugin or equivalent. To get started have a look at the Developers guide.


Plaso comes in 2 different forms of releases:

Note that the development release is for development, expect frequent updates and potential breakage.

If you do not plan to develop or live on the edge, regarding Plaso, we highly recommend sticking with the packaged release. We strongly recommend using a version of Plaso no older than 6 months.

Installing the packaged release

To get Plaso up and running quickly:

  • Docker for Linux, Mac OS and Windows.

Alternative options:

If you run into problems installing, check out the installation troubleshooting guide

Issues or questions

To follow announcements from the Plaso team or send in generic inquiries or discuss the tool:

Please be mindful of people’s time:

  • Do not be that pushy person that demands help now or is asking for an ETA of a feature. All contributions are best effort.

  • Do not assume things are broken just because you cannot get it to work. Most issues we see are caused by people not following the documented instructions.

  • Always try to solve the issue yourself first. Also see troubleshooting.

  • In your communication be as specific and detailed as possible. Assume others have no context about what you are asking them and reduce the amount of follow up questions others have to do to understand you.

Please report all discovered bugs on the issue tracker.

The tools

Though Plaso initially was created in mind to replace the Perl version of log2timeline, its focus has shifted from a stand-alone tool to a set of modules that can be used in various use cases. Fear not Plaso is not a developers only project it also includes several command line tools, each with its specific purpose. Currently these are:

Note that each tool can be invoked with the -h or --help command line flag to display basic usage and command line option information.


image_export is a command line tool to export file content from a storage media image or device based on various filter criteria, such as extension names, filter paths, file format signature identifiers, file creation date and time ranges, etc.


log2timeline is a command line tool to extract events from individual files, recursing a directory (e.g. mount point) or storage media image or device. log2timeline creates a Plaso storage file which can be analyzed with the pinfo and psort tools.

The Plaso storage file contains the extracted events and various metadata about the collection process alongside information collected from the source data. It may also contain information about tags applied to events and reports from analysis plugins.


pinfo is a command line tool to provide information about the contents of a Plaso storage file.


psort is a command line tool to post-process Plaso storage files. It allows you to filter, sort and run automatic analysis on the contents of Plaso storage files.


psteal is a command line tool that combines the functionality of log2timeline and psort.