Application and smartphone developers have spoiled us with notifications. If you’ve used any anti-virus application, Instant Messengers, Outlook, or any modern smartphone, you understand the power of notifications.
They keep you informed about what your PC is doing, email and calendar appointments, potential security threats, and instant messages.
Growl has taken notifications to the next level on OS X, by providing slick, uniform notifications for virtually every application you run. Now you can get the convenience of Growl on your PC with Growl for Windows.
An Introduction to Growl for Windows:
Growl is an application that displays notifications on your desktop in an unobtrusive manner. Since some applications do not have their own notification systems, developers can add Growl notifications to their applications with ease.
Growl brings uniformity to notifications on your system and eliminates the need to look in several places on your screen for notifications from different applications. You can configure Growl notifications to appear where you want to see them, and you can configure their appearance and frequency.
Mac users have been well acquainted with Growl because it has been available on OS X for a while. Now Growl for Windows brings that functionality to your PC. Although it is very similar to Growl for OS X, there are some striking differences that give it a much different feel than Growl for OS X.
Installation, Configuration, and Ease of Use
Growl itself is easy to install, but is not nearly as easy to use as Growl on OS X. Once you’ve installed the Growl application itself, you have to install a series of smaller applications that allow the applications on your PC to communicate with Growl.
There are a few applications available on the Growl for Windows site, but there is not a wide variety of apps, and some services like Gmail and Twitter are handled by multiple applications. For instance, if you use Firefox and want it to communicate through Growl, you have to install a browser add-in to make it work.
After you install Growl for Windows and any additional helper applications or Growl-enabled apps, you can configure all of them through the Growl app itself. On the General tab, you can configure basic settings, including automatic startup and sound settings. On the Applications tab, you can configure how Growl handles notifications for each of the applications it can communicate with.
For each application, you can control the Display, the Duration of display, whether or not the notification is Sticky, as well as Forwarding, message Priority, and Sound. You can also Enable or Disable individual applications, which is good if you get overwhelmed with notifications from a specific app. Most can be set to Default and will use the Growl settings you configure on the Displays and Networks tabs.
Once you have configured the basic settings for Growl, and installed the Growl compatible apps, you should see the messages appear on your screen in small windows above the system tray. If you chose to make any of the notifications sticky, they will stay on your screen until you click on them.
Our Verdict about Growl for Windows:
Growl for Windows is in its infancy, and still needs a lot of development and refinement. It is cumbersome to install Growl, install compatible apps, and install middleware apps or plugins just to get a notification. There are not a lot of apps that currently work with Growl, so the types of notifications you can configure will be very limited.
The application options do not give you much control over how and where the notifications are displayed. Right now you can choose different color schemes, but the notifications can only be displayed above the System Tray.
Mac users will be disappointed because you have very little control over the theme and display of the notifications. They will also be frustrated because they do not have to install any helper apps or plugins for Growl on OS X. There are a ton of applications that have built-in Growl capability, and the list grows daily. For Mac users, Growl is a well-developed staple application. Right now Growl for Windows is a fun toy for anyone who wants to emulate one of the slickest notification systems on OS X.