December 27, 2006 7:37 AM   Subscribe

Why do so many mac people love Growl?

I've been using it for a while, and I'm not really impressed. I've got notifications coming in from iTunes, mainmenu, quicksilver, and Cyberduck. The only one that is vaguely useful is iTunes; the other apps are used infrequently and I already know when they're running tasks.

So why do I see Growl on so many Mac must-have-software lists?
posted by tylermoody to Technology (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It's great for instant messaging (say, Adium).
posted by redfoxtail at 7:44 AM on December 27, 2006

Apparently it's extremely useful in combination with Quicksilver which is why it's on so many lists. My Quicksilver-fu is not yet strong, but I can see why it would need a notification system. Still, I have both on my system and other than in Adium and iTunes I haven't found it that useful. Still for Adium (which I use all the time, it's my IM client of choice) it's very nice to know when people pop on and off.
posted by The Bellman at 7:45 AM on December 27, 2006

Hm. I don't know how to explain it, but it's on my list of "life changing technologies" for me because it is so amazingly flexible in how you can set up notifications for events. I'm sure you can do this at the terminal with BSD commands, but growl opens up some fun and fascinating possibilities. If you IM at all and you don't like blinky, flashy things in the dock but you need visual notification from the computer, you can set that up rather nicely with growl. Same with IRC apps like Colloquy.

I use growl in conjunction with a chime app to notify me of time passing on my home computer without have the clock visible too me. I want to know time is passing, but I don't want to constantly be looking at the clock, and Growl provided an excellent way to do that.

You can also use Growl in conjunction with mail rules and scripts to notify you in a variety of ways when you receive very specific emails you may be waiting for.

Not to mentioned there are a host of options I have not even explored, like sending notifications to other computers on the network and to email addresses.

And I am constantly on the lookout for how to incorporate Growl into streamlining how I do thing on my machine. Growl has a lot to do with prioritizing on the fly for me, and how there are events that happen that might need to take a higher priority than what I am already doing, and Growl assist with that in providing notifications to you of certain events.

What may be the most important thing, though, is simple: consistent notifier across applications. You have one app providing one look of notifications to you, and you can change it if you want, to something you like, or even make it provide different notifications for one app from another. You are not stuck with iCal's or Entourage's or Mail's built in notification boxes that are inconsistent across applications.
posted by smallerdemon at 7:49 AM on December 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

So why do I see Growl on so many Mac must-have-software lists?

Never heard of it. Thanks for the heads up!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:01 AM on December 27, 2006

I don't understand the purpose of it (had never heard of it before the thread).... the apps in question (chat, itunes, etc.) already notify me of events. Why do I need another app to do it?
posted by dobbs at 8:26 AM on December 27, 2006

The people who I know how use it and love it are often people working in a multi-monitor world. They have one monitor where growl comes up and so they can tell who has IMed them or what time it is without cluttering up their main monitor and withotu breaking stride. If you're in a big office-type environment, you can see growl notifications from across the room so to me it was always the functional equivalent of having a call screener saying "Hey tyler is IMing you." I'm stil just ankle deep in quicksilver, but growl is next on my todo list.
posted by jessamyn at 8:30 AM on December 27, 2006

I have it set up to show the actual content of the instant message, so that I don't have to switch my computer's focus to Adium to see what people are saying to me.
posted by redfoxtail at 8:35 AM on December 27, 2006

I like it for mail, IM, ecto, Flickr export from iPhoto and bittorrent apps. Yes, you can get other notifications, but growl is subtle [at least that is how I set it up] and it is consistent across apps.

I didn't see the point of it either before I got it, but now that I'm using it, I couldn't imagine not having it.
posted by birdherder at 8:42 AM on December 27, 2006

oh thank you, thank you! Now I know where those annoying IM-bubbles come from. finally I can turn them off!
posted by kolophon at 8:43 AM on December 27, 2006

Why do I need another app to do it?

You don't. :) Because you don't mind each app doing its own thing.

Oh, and yeah, I love the Transmit notifier for uploads, downloads. I like that Growl shows you an apps icon in the notifier window. That makes more sense to me than an application's notification window that I have to figure out where it's coming from.
posted by smallerdemon at 8:51 AM on December 27, 2006

tylermoody - You might also want to look at Growl's website of applications that use growl, here.

Knowing what kinds of apps can talk to growl and notify you might be a good place to start if you want to see what people use it for.
posted by smallerdemon at 8:54 AM on December 27, 2006

I've got a script set up to notify me through Growl when a client e-mails me—since those e-mails often come when I'm away from my machine, it's useful to be notified as soon as I'm back at it.

Being able to see IM messages without having Adium visible is also very handy…I wish there was an easy way to respond without bringing it to the foreground as well.

I wouldn't call it life-changing, but it is handy, and good at what it does.
posted by adamrice at 8:54 AM on December 27, 2006

adamrice: I could be wrong, but I think you can IM people on Adium from within Quicksilver.
posted by danb at 9:09 AM on December 27, 2006

I like Growl because I can be doing concurrent tasks in a number of applications and be notified when one application has finished a task or requires attention. Yes, my ftp program may make a noise or display a checkmark in the dock icon when done, or my email client may display that a new message is available. Growl makes a subset of information available that allows me to make quick decisions on my next action. I don't keep Adium's buddy list open, nor do I leave a clutter of apps on my screen.

With Growl, I know who has messaged me, which ftp task has completed, and why another task has failed. Different applications notify the users of these details in differing ways, but Growl gives me a standard way to observe what's going on and lets me tailor the level of information given to my needs.
posted by mikeh at 9:26 AM on December 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

danb--your comment rang a bell, and I checked. Apparently there used to be an Adium plugin for QS, but it was broken with the ß40 update a while back, and hasn't been fixed. It also wasn't especially easy, IMO (three panes: contact name > "im" > message text)
posted by adamrice at 9:56 AM on December 27, 2006

Also worth mentioning the network-growl thing. I have a little Mac set up headless to do various things, including lengthy down- and uploads, and run various backup tasks. With network growl, I get the notifications on the Mac I actually use. And if I'm not there, it can write them to a log file. Ace.

Dobbs: Because some things, like mine above, are pretty rare cases, and are going to be low down a developer's request list. This way they get the functionality for free, and if I see an app has Growl, I know it will fit in to my system.
posted by bonaldi at 10:22 AM on December 27, 2006

Growl is definitely one of those "I didn't get it until I started using it" apps.

My favorite use for it is in conjunction with ChargerChecker. I have a Macbook Pro, and find that the magsafe power connector likes to disconnect itself without my knowledge very, very often. A lot of the time, I don't realize this until I get the "your battery is low" system message. Using Growl, I customized a "sticky" alert to notify me that the power has been cut, and this alert stays on my screen until I dismiss it myself.

I have little use for the iTunes Growl support (Synergy already handles that in a much more controllable fashion), but I find it indispensable for Mail. With Growl, I don't have to keep switching to to see my new mail, I can just quickly scan the Growl notifications when they come in, and if I want to actually read the message, I can just click the Growl "bubble" for said message, and it opens it right up. It's great for productivity.

Also, mad props for Network Growl notifications as well.
posted by melorama at 12:42 PM on December 27, 2006

The only people who truly need it are the people mentioned above, either working on several networked computers or multiple monitors.

For the rest of us, it's plain old obsessiveness. And that's not a bad thing at all.

I also find that I use Growl as a sort of litmus test when deciding whether to download a new mac app. Applications that support Growl are, generally speaking, made by people who understand what's important to mac-users. This is how I discovered Shrook, for example.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:03 PM on December 27, 2006

it's scriptable:

growlnotify -m "poop"

... useful.
posted by 31d1 at 5:12 PM on December 27, 2006

« Older How do you stop feeling guilty for having what you...   |   How can I replace this teddy bear? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.