Mac – Customizing Growl to The Fullest

There are great applications that can do many things, and there are also other great applications which can only do one thing but do it best. Growl falls into the second category.

I’ve installed this great app a long time ago and totally forget about it. Yet it works flawlessly in the background while I began to accept that all the pop-up notifications were naturally part of Mac’s native features.

Then one day, when I was going through the list of things in my Mac’s System Preferences, I rediscovered Growl and realized that there are many customizations available to adjust it to each user’s preferences.

Download and Installation

For those who hasn’t had the opportunity to meet Growl, this is a system wide notification application. It will display some specified changes from a range of supported applications. If you want to know what applications that can use Growl ability, you can find the list here.

To use Growl, the first thing to do is to download this small app. Then open the 4.5MB .dmg file, double click on the installation file, and follow the easy-installation process. Growl will then reside inside your Mac’s preference pane.

Growl Installation

However, inside the package you will also find some documentations, uninstallation script, and a folder called Extras. Inside this folder you’ll find some extra features that you can add to Growl’s capabilities:

  • GrowlDict (a plug-in for Apple Dictionary)
  • growlnotify (a command-line tool to post Growl notifications)
  • GrowlMail (a plug-in for Apple Mail that posts a Growl notification every time new mail arrives)
  • GrowlTunes (an application that tell users info about the song that currently played by iTunes)
  • HardwareGrowler (an application that sends Growl notifications when devices are connected or disconnected from your Mac)

Each extra comes with the necessary documentation but you can find more info about these Extras by visiting Growl’s page on Extras.

Growl - Extras Folder


After installation, Growl will work fine. There’s no tinkering necessary. But users can customize many aspect of Growl from System Preferences.

Users can tell Growl to act differently for different applications. There are list of Growl-able applications in the Applications tab. Choose one of them and click the “Configure” button to edit the settings.

Growl - Applications

One of the adjustable settings is the type of notification skins to use for that specific application. Users are also able to choose what kind of condition that will trigger the notification.

03b Growl - Applications -Settings

“Display Options” tab give users the ability to change the default ‘face’ to use for the notification window and to change the behavior of every elements of the skins.

Growl - Display Options

There are many skin styles that you can choose, such as the default Smoke,

08 Growl - Smoke


Growl - Brushed


Growl - Bubbles

or many others. Everytime you change the style, Growl will give you a preview of the notification window.

And if you are the person that loves to meddle with the look, you can expand the choices of Growl’s styles by downloading and installing some of the available choices.

Growl - SpongeBob Styles

If your Mac is part of a network, it is also possible to receive and display notifications from other computers in the same network. It is also possible to send notifications from your Mac to other computers. Network tab is the place to set everything related to network notifications. Ask you network admin for help if necessary.

Growl - Network tab

Do you have any tips or tricks on using Growl? Do you know other alternative to Growl? Share using the comment below.

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