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.

Found another way, through Zenity

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

or like this:

zenity --notification --text "System update necessary!" 

(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

Tested on Ubuntu 14.04, 16.04, 18.04, 20.04. Screenshots from Ubuntu 20.04.

  1. [WORKS WELL] Popup notification that auto-closes after 4~10 seconds (somehow tied to your OS settings?):

    notify-send "Hello world"

    enter image description here
    Source: https://superuser.com/a/31919/425838

  2. Popup window with buttons to click:

    1. Window does NOT get auto-focus: Source: myself; note: for older Unity-based versions of Ubuntu, such as 16.04, -t is ignored for all values except 0--how stupid. :(. For newer Gnome-based versions of Ubuntu, such as 18.04 or 20.04, -t is ignored entirely. Therefore, on older Unity-based versions of Ubuntu, such as 16.04, using -t 0 causes buttons to show up, but on newer Gnome-based versions, it does NOT. That means that for the Ubuntu 20.04 screenshot shown below, the behavior and look of notify-send -t 0 "Hello world" is exactly identical to notify-send "Hello world" above.

      notify-send -t 0 "Hello world"

      enter image description here

      On Ubuntu 18.04 or 20.04 or later, just add -u critical to the command instead to get it to stay open indefinitely until you click anywhere on it!:

      notify-send -u critical "Hello world"

      enter image description here
      Source: @lucidbrot's comment below this answer, plus my own testing.

    2. OR Window DOES get auto-focus:

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

      Note: the window will NOT close until you click the OK button.
      enter image description here
      Source: https://askubuntu.com/a/804475/327339

  3. [MY FAVORITE] The window auto-closes after the specified --timeout in seconds, OR after you click the "OK" button!

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

    Note: the window WILL automatically close after the specified timeout above, in seconds!
    enter image description here
    Source: myself reading the man pages: man zenity

  4. [super ugly-looking]

    xmessage 'hello world'

    Note: the window will NOT close until you click the okay button.
    enter image description here
    Source: http://www.linux-commands-examples.com/xmessage

  • 1
    My notification with -t 0 disappears by itself unless the level is critical just like the others. I'm on Ubuntu 18.04. But the other options work great, and the [super ugly-looking] made me laugh – lucidbrot Jul 30 '20 at 10:13

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'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

There exists a cross-platform solution called Yfiton:

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

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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