Your habits may vary, but we spend quite a bit of time in front of a computer for work. It’s one of the inevitable parts of working for a technology website. You spend a while in front of a keyboard typing, researching new article ideas, interviewing developers, and publishing stories. Working at a computer is just the most efficient way to do all that.
However, we don’t like having to bounce back and forth between our PC and phone to check different notifications. Isn’t that the worst first-world problem? Having to actually pick up your phone to see who texted you? Shouldn’t there be a way to get rid of that and make life even easier?
The answer is yes. With a little creativity and some work with Tasker, you can set up a neat system for passing notifications from your Android phone to a Windows PC. It really is the best app for projects like this or contact-specific text tones or DashClock extensions for everything. Since iPhone users get their notifications in OS X, it’s only fair that Android have something similar (albeit more complicated to setup).
Get Android Notifications on Your Computer
- Tasker ($3)
- Growl for Windows
- Remote Notifier
- Android Notifier Desktop Client (Windows 32 and 64 bit versions)
- Spare time
Step One: Set up Remote Notifier on your PC
Remote Notifier is the key to this whole setup. It uses an Android app and companion desktop program to pass notifications over WiFi or Bluetooth. For this guide, we used WiFi and Windows 7, although the desktop app is available for Mac and Linux (.rpm and .deb) as well.
Download the correct version of the program for your machine and install it. Be sure to get the correct version that matches your version of Java.
Install the program and let it run. Right-click on the tray icon and select “Preferences”. For our setup, we’re going to uncheck the “System default” box and check “Growl Notification Transport Protocol”.
This disables the ho-hum notifications from the Android Notifier desktop program and allows us to use the much cooler ones from Growl. Speaking of which…
Step Two: Set up Growl for Windows
Growl is a notification system which began on OS X. A version of the app has been ported to Windows. That’s what we’re going to download to display the notifications from Android.
Download and install the program. Let it run. Right-click the tray icon and select “Open Growl.” Go to applications. Android Notifier should be listed there.
You can dig through the settings and change the type of notification displayed, as well as its duration or any program to be run upon its reception. We prefer the large banner notifications across the top of the screen.
Step Three: Set up Remote Notifier
Download the app from the Play Store and install it to your phone. Once you’ve opened it, go to “Events to notify” and uncheck everything except “Battery” and “Third-party apps.”
The problem with Remote Notifier is that apps have to specifically add support for it. Since not everyone has added support, we have to set up another solution with Tasker.
It comes with integration for everyone’s favorite automation app, which is all we need. We can jury-rig a solution that will catch every notification, not just the ones that have official support.
Step Four: Set up Tasker
The first thing to do with Tasker is to limit when Remote Notifier will pass alerts to your PC. Ideally, you only want them when you’re actually at the desk and working.
The best solution for this would be to use an NFC tag, but we don’t have one of those. Instead, we set up a profile named “Plugged in at PC” that activates when the phone connects to USB power (e.g. when we connect it to our PC via a charging cable).
We added a task to go along with that context. This task has an important action that you can find under plugins. It turns on Remote Notifier and starts passing notifications. We also added an exit task that turns the system off.
Now we’re going to get into the gritty part of sending notifications to Remote Notifier. Sadly, we could not find an official way to pass a notification. Instead, we’re going to use the Android system call method.
Start with a new Tasker profile that activates whenever there’s a notification. Leave the app and title fields blank so that we get everything.
Now add a task we’ll call “Notify PC” to that profile. This task needs only one action. Under Misc, pick the Send Intent action. For the action box, enter:
Leave category and data blank. In the first Extra box, enter:
For the next Extra box, put in:
Note that that’s “description” followed by a colon and a space. Lastly, check the “Continue Task After Error” box at the bottom.
Go back to the profiles and add another context (long-press) to the notification profile so that it will only run when another profile (Plugged in at PC) is active. This will prevent excessive alerts.
Step Five: Minor additions
If you want to the system to connect via WiFi, make sure the phone and PC are on the same wireless network.
One further step – if you haven’t already, go to Settings > Accessibility and make sure that Tasker is enabled. Otherwise it can’t read your notifications.
Step Six: Enjoy
You can test the system by tapping the “Test notification” button in Remote Notifier. Testing the Tasker setup is easy as well. Send yourself a text or receive any notification.
We liked the setup. Although we couldn’t respond to SMS messages (which would be amazing), it’s nice to know what happened without having to bounce back and forth between devices.
If you have any trouble, leave us a comment and we’ll be happy to help out.