How to Use the User Actions Log in Joomla

The Joomla team recently released Joomla 3.9. We wrote a post explaining 10 New Features You'll See in Joomla 3.9.

One of the features that got the best reaction was "User Actions Log", which allows you to audit user activities. This new extension allows you to track who is doing what on your site. You can track who logged in, who created articles, who installed extensions and much more.

In this blog post, I will give you a tour of this new feature.

Before starting, I want to congratulate Mohamed Karim who created this new feature during a Google Summer of Code project.

Step #1. Before you start

For this feature to work, check that all the required extensions are enabled.

  • In your Joomla control panel, go to "Extensions" > "Manage" > "Manage".
  • Enter "action", without the double quotes, into the "Search" box. Make sure all the actions plugins and the administrator module are enabled:

enable required plugins and module


Step #2. Choose which extensions to log

  • Go to "Users", then "User Actions Log".
  • Click "Options".

go to users user actions log

Inside this area, you can choose the settings for your logs. You can choose:

  • Whether or not to log users IP addresses.
  • What delimiter to use in the data export CSV file.
  • Which components should have events recorded.

At the moment, only events for Joomla's core extensions are recorded. However, I suspect that Joomla extension developers (including Joomlashack) will start to integrate with User Actions Log, so you'll soon be able to record far more events.

select the log options


Step #3. Inspect the User Actions Log

Once you have configured the logging, you can now start to see the results.

  • Go to "Users" > "User Actions Log".
  • Here you will see the list of the currently logged activities:

take a look at user actions log

Your Users Actions Log table will consist of five columns. Let's take a look at them, from left to right.

In the "Action" column, you'll find a brief description of the logged user activities.  As you can see in the image below, the description will include the Login Name (username) of the user who performed the action. For some Joomla extensions, this description will also include the name of item that was involved.

the action columns

Under the "Extension" column, you'll find the names of the extension associated with the activity:

extension column

The "Date" column shows how long ago the users' actions took place. In most Joomla administrative areas, we see the calendar dates. However, in this situation, I think the "time ago" format is much more useful.

the date column

The "Name" column displays the names of the users whose activities have been logged.

name

The "User Actions Log" screen has also three filters, to enable you to browse the list more efficiently:

  • The Extension filter
  • The Date filter
  • The User filter

the logs filter


Step #4. Administer the User Actions Log

You can perform the following four administrative tasks on the "User Actions Log":

  • Delete selected action(s).
  • Purge all of the actions in one click.
  • Export selected action(s) as a CSV file.
  • Export the whole log as a CSV file.

For each of these tasks, you will see a corresponding button at the top toolbar:

top toolbar


Step #4. Set up Email Notifications

If you're a Super User, you can get notifications from User Actions Log. When you're logged in as a Super User, go to your profile page and you'll see this new tab with options:

email notifications


Conclusion

Joomla 3.9 was definitely worth waiting. Its Release Team has done a tremendous job. In the "User Actions Log" component, Joomla administrators now have a powerful tool to efficiently monitor and administer user activities. 

Here's more reading on the new features in Joomla 3.9:


About the author

Born from a Ukrainian mother and Russian father, Alex lives in the United Kingdom. Alex is a self-taught Microsoft Certified Professional. He enjoys learning Joomla and helping web site administrators make the most of it.