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Growl: Make notifications persist when away from your computer

Growl notifications are a clever, highly customizable, and fun way to receive messages from various Mac applications. Sorry Windows users, Growl is Mac-only. These notification messages persist for a few seconds by default, long enough to read their content but not so long that they are in your way. When you are away from your computer, these messages disappear without being seen. With a quick and easy configuration change, these messages can be kept while your computer is idle until you return.

For those who have never tried Growl, it provides applications with a simple means of getting your attention and sharing information with you. For example, the instant messaging application Adium can send Growl notifications when a contact signs in showing you their name and status. The look of the notifications is configurable and sounds can be selected to accompany the notifications. The best part of the Growl configurability is that each type of notification from every application can be enabled or disabled independently.

Growl notifications are ephemeral by default, and that’s good. When you are at your computer working and an application growls at you, the notification pops up for a short period of time, long enough to be read, but not so long that you need to stop what you are doing and mouse over to manually close it. If you are away from your computer and a message comes with this default configuration, the notification will be long gone when you get back. This may be fine, but for the obsessive compulsive among us it may be nice to know what we’ve missed.

To make Growl leave notifications on your screen in your absence, open the System Preferences (Apple menu -> System Preferences…) and click the Growl logo once (in the Other section). In the General tab of the Growl preferences, you’ll see the following options:

Click on the “Leave notifications on screen after …” checkbox and, if you want, change the default number of seconds that must pass before the computer is considered idle (120s in this example). In this case, after two minutes of no mouse or keyboard input, subsequent notifications will stay on the screen until you manually close them (mouse over the notifications and a close box will appear — clicking on the close box will make them leave).

Now that you have persistent notifications, you might want to check out the trick to close all of them at once.

Quinn McHenry
Quinn McHenry
Quinn was one of the original co-founders of Tech-Recipes. He is currently crafting iOS applications as a senior developer at Small Planet Digital in Brooklyn, New York.


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