Notification systems for desktop OSs are not a strong suit for Apple. Mac OS X lacks a solid way for background tasks to notify the user of important events. Mike previously mentioned one of our favorite system enhancements Growl and it truly is an amazing addition to any Mac. Below is what Growl is and how it can enhance any user experience.
The notifications on our desktop are set to be small and blend in. Whenever an application has a notification, its icon and a preview of the action appear within the notification box.
Growl is a system plug in that is meant to act as a system wide notification system for applications in Mac OS X. The plug in is designed as an ecosystem that any developer can use in their software to enhance the user experience. Like a lot of those who use Growl, we became aware of it when we started using the Adium IM client. Adium and many other application ask to install Growl. If you are unfamiliar with Growl, this can seem odd and might scare you if you are unaware that it is not a virus. We suggest giving it a try and setting it up in whatever manner you desire. Growl simply installs itself as a preference pane and customization is a simple click of various radio buttons.
One of the numerous notification styles available in the growl framework
Growl also makes a number of plug ins that notify the user of system events such as hardware changes, i.e usb drive becomes unplugged and emails. Even better, if you have a number of networked computers, Growl can push notification across the networks to a certain machine. We have used that feature to alert us when we are running simulations on another computer and they finish. That way we can be notified whenever a particular action occurs remotely. Considering that implementing and customizing Growl is so easy, we highly recommend its use to even the most non techy of individuals.
What have you used Growl for?