How to Receive Better Windows Notifications with Snarl

The Windows notifications system (the notification balloon in the system tray) is a great way for Windows users to be notified about important events happening in the system. While very useful, Windows does not allow any centralized configuration of the notification system. Each application has its own configuration of the notification balloon.

Snarl is a free Windows Notifications replacement which can handle all the notifications and also features a centralized configuration. The best thing about Snarl is that it will not steal the focus of the window when showing a notification. Snarl can display several notifications at the same time without cluttering the screen.

After installing Snarl, it will show a welcome notification and an hourly time notification.

snarl_welcome

The default color scheme of the notification dialogs is dark grey with 100% opacity, but you can change the color scheme along with the opacity in the Snarl preferences. There are several color schemes and styles available which come pre-installed with Snarl.

snarl_color_scheme

If you have left the computer, Snarl will show the notification when you start using the system again.

snarl_away_notification

By default, after four minutes of inactivity, Snarl will assume that you are away. You can change this duration by going to “Snarl Preferences -> Options -> Presence.”

snarl_presence

There are several things that you can configure in its Preferences section. In the Applications tab, you can find all the applications supported by Snarl. You can also configure settings for each application which will override the default configuration.

snarl_applications

The Notifications tab is where you can configure the behavior of the notification balloons.

  • Appearance – Change the styles, color scheme, opacity etc.
  • Behavior – Change the duration, height, interaction, presence properties etc.
  • Layout – Especially useful for multiple screens. You can change where the notifications are shown.
  • Sounds – Enable or disable notification sounds.
  • Advanced – Some advanced properties like automatic URL detection etc.

Snarl can also forward notifications to a remote computer. This is especially useful in case of a network of computers and the system admin has to see all the system notifications. SNP or GNTP protocols are required to be running on the remote computer. The easiest way to do this is to install Snarl in the remote computer.

The history tab will show all the recent Windows notifications in ascending order. There are two sub-tabs – one will show the notifications that were displayed, and the other will show the missed notifications while you were away. You can double click any notification to replay it.

snarl_preference

You can right click the Snarl icon in the system tray for more options. You can also stop or start the notifications according to your needs. The notifications can also be hidden or can also be made sticky.

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Using Snarl is quite simple. There is no special configuration required after installing the app. It will start showing the default notifications after installation. By default, Snarl shows the notifications above the system tray. To see the complete details about the notification, hover the mouse cursor over the notification and click on the View button which will appear on hover.

snarl_see-notification

If you click on the notification itself, it will disappear altogether. You can see the current notifications by right clicking the system tray icon of Snarl and selecting Notification center.

snarl_notification_center

If you want to close all the open notifications, right click the system tray icon and select Hide all notifications. You can also make a notification as sticky so that it remains open all the time.

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You can select “Do Not Disturb” from the contextual menu to keep all the notifications hidden until you allow them again. You can always go through the hidden notifications from the Notification Centre.

One drawback of Snarl is that it does not fully replace the Windows notifications. It will only show notifications of applications which are registered with Snarl. There is a good list of supported applications which will work after installing their addons. Just download the addon and install it. It will automatically be registered with Snarl.

The usefulness of Snarl purely depends upon whether your required applications are supported or not. For me, it has become a must have app for my system, as I’m able to configure Windows notifications as per my needs. I also love the history feature of Snarl which will let me replay all the recent notifications that I have missed.