Most of the application can show nicely formatted notification on events that appear on top right corner of the screen. I'm about to write a bash script that will do fairy long processing in the background and I really want to know when it is finished. How can I show that nice notification from a bash script?


If you're using the new notification system in Jaunty, you want the notify-send command

notify-send - a program to send desktop notifications


With notify-send you can sends desktop notifications to the user via
a notification daemon from the command line.  These notifications can be
used to inform the user about an event or display some form of information
without getting in the user's way.


-u, --urgency=LEVEL
Specifies the urgency level (low, normal, critical).

-t, --expire-time=TIME
    Specifies the timeout in milliseconds at which to expire the notification.
-i, --icon=ICON[,ICON...]
    Specifies an icon filename or stock icon to display.
-c, --category=TYPE[,TYPE...]
    Specifies the notification category.
  • 4
    Thanks, just found it myself :) apt-get install libnotify-bin have to be run before to get it. – vava Aug 29 '09 at 10:39
  • How does the root user send a message from crons, init.d, etc? – Lance Caraccioli Nov 22 '13 at 4:38
  • 6
    Eg: notify-send Test "Hello World" – Thaha kp Jun 4 '14 at 8:26
  • 3
    The --expire-time parameter does not work on Ubuntu thanks to this "feature" (bug). bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/notify-osd/+bug/390508 – axiopisty Apr 18 '16 at 15:43
  • I found that notify-send is inhibited during video/audio playback. While this is a valid use case, if you still want to see them then --urgency=critical must be added. – ccpizza Feb 20 '17 at 7:36

Found another way, through Zenity

echo 'message:hi' | zenity --notification --listen

(This also has the benefit of already being installed on Ubuntu.)

  • I like Zenity in that it supports user interactions for dialogs (unlike notify-send) – Waffle's Crazy Peanut Jan 21 '18 at 13:32

There's also xmessage that will pop-up a window, so it should work on any X11 system.

Pro: It also allows interactively prompting the user with buttons.

Con: Like any pop-up alert, it typically receives focus, so if you're in the middle of typing it can disappear before you read the message.

  • 4
    Con: It looks ugly as hell, and also is a super tiny window which is not always obvious to the user. Anyways, it is universal though. :) – Nik Reiman May 6 '13 at 11:37
  • xmessage doesn't work in Fedora though. Its not installed by default. – Abhay Mittal Jun 3 '14 at 16:47
  • It's not available in the default Xorg installation of Arch Linux either. – friederbluemle Jan 22 '18 at 8:06
  • You can also get a popup window with an "OK" and "Cancel" button via notify-send --expire-time=0 "Hello World" or notify-send -t 0 "Hello world". Otherwise, however, the -t option is ignored due to some stupid "design decisions": askubuntu.com/questions/110969/notify-send-ignores-timeout – Gabriel Staples Apr 2 '18 at 18:04
  • I couldn't take it; I had to write my own answer :) superuser.com/a/1310142/425838 – Gabriel Staples Apr 2 '18 at 18:15

For KDE users:

$ kdialog --title "Long process completed!" --passivepopup "This popup will disappear in 5 seconds" 5 &
  • Is it possible to set an icon for the notification? – Malabarba May 14 '12 at 4:18

There exists a cross-platform solution called Yfiton:

$ yfiton -n desktop -Pmessage="Lunch time!" -Pposition=TOP_RIGHT

Popup notification that auto-closes after 10 seconds:

notify-send "Hello world"

Source: https://superuser.com/a/31919/425838

Popup window with buttons to click:

[window does not get auto-focus]

notify-send -t 0 "Hello world"

Source: myself; note: -t is ignored for all values except 0--how stupid. :(

[window gets auto-focus]

zenity --info --title "Hello" --text "World"

Source: https://askubuntu.com/a/804475/327339


[MY FAVORITE, since the window auto-closes after the specified --timeout in seconds]

zenity --info --title "Hello" --text "World" --timeout=2

Source: myself reading the man pages: man zenity

[super ugly-looking]

xmessage 'hello world'

Source: http://www.linux-commands-examples.com/xmessage


In a shell script, you can also call the osd_cat utility from libxosd.

  • 1
    This is a little bit different as it doesn't use ubuntu desktop notifications. – vava Aug 29 '09 at 13:43
  • Yes, this is an alternative that you can use with any Linux distribution and any WM/DE. – geek Aug 30 '09 at 13:39

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