Monday, November 30, 2020

Retiring Growl

Chris Forsythe (tweet, Hacker News, Slashdot):

Growl is being retired after surviving for 17 years. With the announcement of Apple’s new hardware platform, a general shift of developers to Apple’s notification system, and a lack of obvious ways to improve Growl beyond what it is and has been, we’re announcing the retirement of Growl as of today.

It’s been a long time coming. Growl is the project I worked on for the longest period of my open source career. However at WWDC in 2012 everyone on the team saw the writing on the wall. This was my only WWDC. This is the WWDC where Notification Center was announced. Ironically Growl was called Global Notifications Center, before I renamed it to Growl because I thought the name was too geeky.

Thanks to Forsythe and the other contributors for all their work over the years.


There’s one issue, which is that of “Sherlocking” a third-party solution with a first-party implementation. Then there’s another, which is having an open enough system to support such innovations in the first place.

Something like Growl, or f.lux (mentioned down-thread) could never have come about if macOS had been as restrictive as iOS. I have little doubt that we’ve missed at least a few such innovations over past decade, especially on the iPad, due to this.


Update (2020-12-04): John Gruber:

What a great open source project Growl was. It proved itself as a feature that should have been built into MacOS — and then it was. Growl arguably defined “notifications” as we know them, not just on Mac, but iOS and Android as well.


Growl was famously hard to explain succinctly to people in my experience, but I think it speaks a lot to the community that before Mac OS X contained an infrastructure for this, people banded together and built something that was widely adopted. In this way it’s not dissimilar from Internet Config by Quinn! the Eskimo et al or the External Editor protocol implemented by many FTP-like applications.

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Growl’s true power was in its notification views, which Apple still hasn’t duplicated.

One such view was Prowl ( which pushed notifications to your iPhone.

I could attach Growl notifications to automator workflows, echo shell script results, or even Noodle Hazel file/folder results, if only “File now exists in ~/Dowloads/ folder on $HOST.” Then just set whatever Growl views I needed including Prowl. Prowl would even echo to my watch.

This was extremely easy using Growl and Prowl, and now will be much less so. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

@Leo Yes, it’s too bad that Notification Center doesn’t have hooks for receiving notifications, only for posting them.

One such view was Prowl ( which pushed notifications to your iPhone.

I’m puzzled that syncing all notifications to all my devices still isn’t a thing. You can opt-in to receiving some of your iPhone’s notifications on your Watch, which is nice, but you can’t, in turn, receive the Watch’s notifications on the iPhone. So even though the Fitness and Health apps purport to be a hub, some of their information only appears on one device (also, I still want Health on my Mac; give me charts on a big screen).

And you can’t receive everything on whichever device you’re currently using.

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