Growl, Snarl, Mumbles…
At home I use Linux and Windows, at work I use a Mac. I enjoy aspects of all three OS’s but for a while Mac’s have had a killer app that was not available on any other OS. This applications biggest asset was what it didn’t do — Get in the way!
The app is called Growl and it provides useful notifications only from applications you want to monitor. For example if you are chatting with someone and reading an intriguing article from Wired but your browser is taking up the entire screen. With Growl there is no need to flip back and forth between the browser and the IM client, instead Growl pops up a small, non-obtrusive “bubble” with the message from your friend which “floats” there for a few seconds, then goes away. Growl works with a grocery list of applications to display useful information you may want to be aware of like completed downloads, new IM’s, new e-mails and so many other things. If you want tend to the notification you can click on the bubble and the appropriate application will be made active, if not, it will just fade away after a few seconds.
For you Linux users out there an application with the same idea in mind is available called Mumbles. It works with the Gnome desktop and can be installed via a source or a .deb package. The range of supported applications is not as vast but the ones that matter to me work out of the box — Pidgin, Firefox and Thunderbird. More support is coming and what is available is already a must-have.
Finally, for you Windows users an app called Snarl is available. The current issue with Snarl is application support. I believe it’s on its way to being a great app — just give it a few months. It does have a developers guide available for anyone who wants to add Snarl functionality into their existing application.
While all three apps serve the same purpose Growl is by far the pack leader. It has been around the longest and provide support for tons of applications. (Both of the others are admitted attempts to bring “Growl” functionality to the respective OS.) If you are on the computer even half as much as I am I can assure you that once you use these apps you will wonder why someone didn’t think of this a long time ago. Don’t just take my word for it, download the apps and give them a test run!
Growl – http://growl.info/
Mumble – http://www.mumbles-project.org/
Snarl – http://www.fullphat.net