Weekly Poll: Do You Use Growl?

People have mixed opinions about notifications. Is it better to have a subtle popup appear every time an email arrives, or would you prefer to just check it manually?

And what about changing iTunes tracks, Twitter DMs, Dropbox uploads, and everything else that happens in the background. Should you be informed about all these events as well?

The worst case scenario would be that each of these events is handled by different applications, leading to a complex mess of different notification locations, styles, and sounds. Thankfully, we have an application called Growl that does a wonderful job of solving this problem.

Put simply, Growl is a central “notification server” for your Mac. It takes information from all your different applications, and shows relevant notifications in the same consistent way. You may even be running Growl without realising it, as it comes bundled with many popular Mac apps (though they’re not particularly happy about it…)

I’d be interested to hear what you think about notifications. Are you a Growl-lover, or do you prefer to work uninterrupted? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, and vote in our poll above!


  • http://andrewgoodrickwerner.ca Andrew Goodrick–Werner

    I love Growl, but I’d like to see Apple introduce a central push notification system in OS X.

  • http://thebird-feeder.com Ben Carlsen

    Love Growl. I’m actually disappointed when an app doesn’t have Growl integration (I’m looking at you Twitterrific, and mentions and DMs just aren’t enough).

    • Lucien

      Use Echofon. Growl for everything (including main timeline), highlights for certain keywords, mute, timeline updates for new followers and people who favorite your tweets, sync between iPhone, iPad, etc…can’t live without it after 1.4 (that introduced mute and better notification options).

  • Alexander Kohler

    I absolutely love growl, it means I can keep working on what I’m currently doing and still see what for instance Mail just got, and then react accordingly depending on the urgency of the matter.
    I almost didn’t buy Twitterrific 4 because there was no growl support, now it has support for mentions, and direct messages so they at least it has some growl support. I hope they will add support for new tweets as they arrive, so I can keep working and whenever tweets arrive a grow notification comes up and I see with a quick glance what it’s about without switching to Twitterrific first.

  • ncus

    I use growl. Use it with postbox. I disable growl for chat app, because it’s too annoying.

  • http://twitter.com/mdcrumpler Michael Crumpler

    I love growl, it helps with skype and various other programs for notifications. Useful for anything and everything, don’t see why anyone wouldn’t have it. I don’t have it pop up much, but when it does it contains something useful!

  • Philip Hallstrom

    Would be nice to have another option for…. Have it installed, love it, but am very restrictive about what apps are allowed to post notifications.

  • Simon

    God, No thanks. It reminds me of the last time I used Windows with flashing buzzing little distractions popping up everywhere. I’ve never understood why people want that – I want to get work done without being distracted.

    • SC

      Only except in Windoze you couldn’t choose which application notifies you. With Growl, *you* are in command, you select which notification you want to see and how you want to see it.

      Also, contrary to Windows, it is just visual feedback without need for user input. There is nothing to press. It’s just like the HUD that comes up when you increase your system volume – comes up and goes away all by itself.

    • Scott C.

      Well, I thought the same way for a long time but then I realized there were some things I would rather have my Mac automatically notify me rather than me keeping my mind on it while I’m focusing on something else. Ironically it helps me to focus on something and forget about the things I want to notice later, hence less “distractions” in my workflow.

      Windoze notifications are not selective, they are obtrusive and annoying. Growl’s notifications can be selective, they aren’t as obtrusive as Windoze notifications and they are even pleasing to look at.

  • http://www.nova-fusion.com Michael Ebens

    Yeah, I love Growl, it really helps to keep me informed on what’s going on without having switch between windows all the time. I really wish OS X had a native notification system something like it.

  • http://connectionfailure.wordpress.com connectionfailure

    Growl is amazing.. what they need to do with it next is:
    1. Make it easier to customize with possibly a bundled app “Theme/Skin designer”
    2. Make it easier to send notifications to a different computer or iOS device
    3. Make it easier for an admin to push notifications to one or more computers or iOS devices simultaneously.

  • http://chrisvaccarodesign.com chris

    growl is the shiznat. Use it with thunderbird, and your off!

  • Yaro

    Of course YES. Who could live without it? Is like asking “do you use the Trash?”

  • ale

    yessss i use it for dropbox and skype

  • Calvin

    I don’t use it. Tempted to sometimes, but I prefer to live without it. I use Sparrow for mail so I can look at the menubar to see if there’s new mail. I don’t want any more distractions than that.

  • E.M.

    When I actually visit my Mac these days (iOS user), every couple days, I still love seeing my notifications. Growl is great!

  • http://www.twitter.com/niels_k Niels K.

    I am using Growl but sparsely. Echofon will only send Mentions and Direct Messages, Adium and my Mail-application are forbidden to use Growl. iTunes is forbidden to use Growl as well. Dropbox will give me notifications if a shared folder gets updated, OmniFocus will do some Growl-stuff, Transmission tells me when a download is finished etc.
    It’s very useful but you have to think what notifications you really need. Switching off Adium- and mail-notifications for example made my life far more productive.

  • http://wa3l.com Wael Al-Sallami

    I use Growl for pretty much everything, the thing doesn’t interrupt my workflow and doesn’t cry for attention, I can’t think of anything better … definitely a big plus for Mac OS.

  • Jenn

    I usually allow audium to install for me, but they ask for my decision to see if I want it first. I would dislike third party installing it without asking if I want it (I heard the new adobe suite does this).

    Its a neat little program though, especially with how you can customize the alerts you want.

  • http://www.joshnichols.com Josh N.

    I can’t really get used to Growl. I don’t want anything poping up and distracting me. Really important stuff can be in the toolbar.

    If Growl had a notification stream, like the tweet stream in a Twitter app — that I could check when I want to, I would totally use it. Maybe give me an icon in the menu bar to let me know that new items are avaliable …

    Not many things are worth a popup notification.

  • Dilbert Ascended

    I like the concept of Growl, but I think the UI is ugly.

    I never seen a skin that made it look much better either.

  • http://classyllama.com Kevin

    Works great for some apps (like mail and skype)… not so useful for other apps – transmit, sequal pro… ok but not necessarily necessary.

  • Lucien

    Yep, can’t live without Growl – it’s amazing. When I get on Windows (sometimes) I immediately miss it.

    I even developed my own simple Applescript that checks pulls info from YouTube subscribers, video upload views and channel views, checks every hour for changes (via Geektool), showing current count on desktop (and the number of +views/subs, if any that hour), uses Growl so I don’t have to constantly be checking my desktop and see if it updated, and logs every check to a separate text file for future reference. :)

  • Tim

    There’s a very small list of things I would use it for. Things that take a long time to complete. For regular things, like e-mail, I’d prefer to just check and deal with my e-mail from time to time, when I’m ready, rather than be bothered every time one comes in. Apparently, it’s installed on my system, but the only notification I’ve ever gotten was that there was a new version of growl.

  • http://twitter.com/parenteau Michael Parenteau

    I like growl. I just made a theme you can check out on github. Just added it today… pretty cool that you can create custom themes as they are made up of html and css. -webkit FTW!

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