In Ubuntu, I want to be notified in a customizable way when someone speaks in a Skype conversation (but not in group Chat 'channels').

The problem is:

  • I have lots of windows open, so I often don't notice when a new one appears in the taskbar, or if its icon changes.
  • The built-in Skype notifications are tiny, and disappear almost immediately, so I don't notice them
  • I tried using this script in the Skype notification options, but it also disappears too quickly: notify-send "%sname:" "%smessage" -i skype-chat (update: notify-send now supports customisation)
  • I tried using pidgin instead of Skype, in the hope its notifications would be better, but it is missing too many features, e.g. listing bookmarked chats above my contact list

Is there some better notifications package I can use instead of notify-send?

Or some other solution?

UPDATE: Ideally a notification window would stay on top of all other windows, and require the user to click on it before disappearing, in order to make sure they have seen it.


There's a program called Skype-Wrapper that attempts to improve Skype's notification system in Ubuntu by integrating it into the Ubuntu messaging menu.

picture of Skype Wrapper from OMGUbuntu

You can see installation instructions from this article in OMGUbuntu.

There are additional instructions in the first answer to this question on AskUbuntu (which is my source for this information).


I typed /alertsoff and muted the group chat. More info - https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA10042/what-are-chat-commands-and-roles

hope that helps. I am happy.


xfce4-notifyd has an option to set its theme, transparency, and time before it disappears.

I personally had to uninstall the previous notify daemon to set the new one as default...

If you're using notify osd (gnome-notify), GUI tools to customise it can be found here.


If you're using notify-send and it seems to disappear too fast, you can try specifying its timeout:

"notify-send --expire-time=5000"

That should hide the message in 5 seconds (5000 ms).

  • 1
    the --expire-time option has no effect for me. I'm using v0.7.2 – Will Sheppard Sep 17 '12 at 16:10
  • use "-t 5000" for message delay; "notify-send --help" is helpful – virtualeyes Mar 9 '13 at 23:07

I had a similar complaint, and what I ended up doing was installing this API plugin, which allowed me to add a Skype account to Empathy. Now I get my Skype messages in a nice Empathy popup, and I disabled my skype popups. One caveat, leave the Skype popups for incoming calls, as Empathy can't handle those. At least, it can't on my Fedora install.

Note: I'm operating under the assumption that Ubuntu Empathy works somewhat similar to Fedora Empathy. Please correct me if I'm wrong.


I found a similar sort of solution for my IRC client pidgin.

I built a plugin that calls the following commands:

# play a sound
/usr/bin/play /usr/share/sounds/gnome/default/alerts/drip.ogg

# display a popup message
/usr/bin/zenity --info --title "Message received"

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.