Tech Tip: Get Notifications from Your Scripts with notify-send


Notify-send is a great application for notifying you when an event has occurred. An event such as a script running to completion.

If notify-send is not installed on your machine already, install the package "libnotify1" (or possibly just "libnotify") from your repositories.

Once installed you can simply type the following, at the command line, to display a pop-up message near your system tray:

notify-send "hello"

By default the message will be displayed for 5 seconds. To change how long a message stays displayed use the "-t" switch. This will change, in milliseconds, how long the message is displayed. Enter "-t 0" to leave the message up until the user closes it.

notify-send "This message will be displayed for 3 seconds" -t 3000
notify-send "Click me to close me." -t 0

You can even add a title and an icon to the notification.

notify-send "This is the Title" \
            "Check out the cool icon" \
            -i /usr/share/pixmaps/gnome-terminal.png

When used in a script you could set it to notify you periodically by placing the command in a loop:


while [ 1 ]; do
     notify-send "Up Time" "`uptime`"
     sleep 5m


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Messages to a Login Screen?

samhdaniel's picture

Can any of the mentioned tools be used to display a message to a computer's login screen if no one is logged in there?

I'm trying to test/verify some special shutdown tasks and I'd like to see the output even if I'm not logged in.

Any help?

BTW, the original post was very helpful. Thanks,


alarmclock based on notify-send

Alison Chaiken's picture

In file "alarmclock":

echo "Usage: 15:30 for 3:30 PM, times assumed to be before midnight."
echo "Use atq and atrm to halt notifications."

DATESTRING="`date --rfc-3339=date | sed 's/-//g '`"
TIMESTRING="`echo $1 | tr -d ":" `"
at -t $ALARMSTRING -f ~/bin/

In file

while [ $((j++)) -lt 10 ]
  notify-send "Leave now" -t 5000 -u critical
  sleep 1m

How it works:

alison@bonnet ;-) alarmclock 10:19
Usage: 15:30 for 3:30 PM, times assumed to be before midnight.
Use atq and atrm to halt notifications.
job 13 at 2009-12-30 10:19

Pops-up 10 notifications at the desired time as desired. Now if I could just get the window center and larger . . . maybe have to write some C to call X functions, or figure out how to call libnotify with different args? Thanks, Kristofer, for the excellent tip.

excellent information

MCITP's picture

Really this post is super. The information in the post is very useful. Tech tips are really good idea. We are expecting you to post more tips. Thanks for sharing such a good and useful tips.


Sans Direction's picture

I was making a weather popup -- I work in a sub-basement and always want to know what things look like when I go up to ground level -- and I wanted to stick the degree symbol (°) with Unicode and got a circumflex capital A (°) first. Any idea. When I print the string to STDOUT, no problem. When it goes to notify, no dice. Perl, btw. Is there a Unicode-safe way of handling this?

Reply To Self

Sans Direction's picture

Not a notify-send issue. A Perl issue. See . Nevermind....


RyanE's picture

I like osd_cat best myself.

Some trick: (sleep 55m;

AprilCoolsDay's picture

Some trick:

(sleep 55m; notify-send "Laundry Done!" -t 0) &

And you can use gmessage, zenity, kdialog instead too.

gmessage -center -nofocus -font 'Sans Bold 48' "Laundry Done"

zenity --warning --text="Laundry Done!"

kdialog --passivepopup "Laundry Done!"

from (Korean)

Debian systems and other tools?

Dom Delimar's picture

The binary is in package libnotify-bin on Debian systems.

However, it shows me that (IMHO) ugly (maybe GTK?) notification pop-up message in the lower right part of the screen, while my system tray is not there.

Is there any other similar tool? I'm using zenity to accomplish a similar thing. Even thought it's pretty powerful in options, I don't see it being able to show exactly where you want it on the screen, unless you want it in the middle of the screen. ;)

Re: other tools?

Dom Delimar's picture

Oh, I just realized there's kdialog which still shows somewhat ugly (IMHO) notifications on KDE3 but seems to integrate really nicely with KDE4. At least, on KDE3 that I know of, it allows you to position your notification wherever you wish on the screen. Nice.

Can send a notification to another Ubuntu ?

jroco's picture


Can I send a Pop-Up Notification to another PC with UBUNTU system.

Thanks a Lot.


Twitter: jonathanroco

Re: notification

Niklas Herder's picture

If you have ssh and X forwarding enabled on the remote system, you can send a notification like this:

ssh -X user@remote.system DISPLAY=:0 notify-send "Hello there"

This assumes that user has an X session running on :0, of course.

Re: notification

Steven Bakker's picture

Note that the "-X" (X forwarding) is not necessary here. X forwarding is used for executing remote commands that have to display their X contents on the local display, i.e.: "ssh -X user@remote.system xterm" would attempt to execute "xterm" on "remote.system", while displaying on my local display (forwarding the X11 communications over the SSH connection), effectively giving me a shell on "remote.system". What you want is to execute a command (doesn't really matter where), and have it display on the remote system.

Given that,

ssh user@remote.system DISPLAY=:0 notify-send 'Hello there'

Would presumably work equally well, assuming that user has permissions to access the display at :0.

Not sure if libnotify/notification-daemon has any provisions for remote connections (if so, you'd expect something like "DISPLAY=remote.system:0 notify-send 'Hello there'" to work as well; I have little hopes in that regard, though).

You forget something with

jroco's picture

You forget something with the quotes. That is the real command:

ssh -X user@remote.system DISPLAY=:0.0 'notify-send "Hello World!" '

Only with the notify command between quotes ssh works fine.