We combine a scanning near-field microscope (SNOM) with a time-resolved detection scheme to measure the mode dynamics of InGaN laser diodes emitting at 405 nm. Observed phenomena are filaments, mode competition, near-field phase dynamics, near-field to far-field propagation, and substrate modes. In this article we describe in detail the self-built SNOM, specialized for these studies. We also provide our recipe for SNOM tip preparation using tube etching. Then we compare the mode dynamics for a 3 μm narrow and a 10 μm wide ridge waveguide laser diode.© (2006) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.