Monitoring complex catalytic pathways under industrially-relevant conditions is one of the key challenges in catalysis chemistry and technology. Herewith we describe a direct technique called ‘fast scanning-pulse analysis’ (FASPA) that allows the direct characterization and detailed kinetic analysis of intimately interweaved catalytic pathways. The power and potential of the FASPA approach are demonstrated with an industrially relevant methanol-to-hydrocarbons (MTH) process over H-ZSM-5 zeolite. This reaction proceeds via a hydrocarbon pool (HCP) mechanism producing olefins and aromatics. The HCP is built-up upon exposure to methanol during the induction period, followed by a transition regime to a quasi-steady state MTH operation. This FASPA technique allows (sub-)second resolution of the full temporal products response upon a methanol pulse providing direct and quantitative insight into the MTH reactions. Globally two consecutive pathways can be discerned: a very fast primary product formation in the presence of methanol in a narrow active MTH reaction zone, followed by a slower formation of light aromatics, which is closely related to the decomposition and release of HCP species and secondary reactions in absence of methanol in the downstream part of the catalyst bed. The time delay between the appearance of inert tracer and primary products represents the time needed to build-up the HCP in the induction period, where methane is observed prior to other products. The primary products (alkanes, olefins, and light aromatics) are nearly instantaneously formed from the pulsed methanol. These results demonstrate the highly dynamic character of the HCP in the MTH process over H-ZSM-5.