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Growl was a utility for macOS 10.5 (Leopard) to 10.9 (Mavericks) that could be tailored to notify the user of various kinds of information from other apps. This could be presented in a translucent popup in a corner of the screen, or in other ways if the user prefers.

It is no longer needed in more recent versions of macOS which have built-in support for notifications.

Growl 1.2


Growl is a notification utility. You can find in the System Preferences. You can get various notifications, too many to list, and there are some that run with Mail, iTunes and other programs too. You can also get some plugins like HardwareGrowler that notify you of when things connect or disconnect. I find it pretty handy, and I got mine set up to flash me a little black box in the upper right corner whenever I get a notification. Worth looking into before you get rid of it...

Some things Growl notifies you of:

  • What the next song on iTunes is playing. I've been listening to a site of acoustic Christian music (from Word of Truth) and it comes in as an iTunes stream, so if I'm working in Photoshop, even in full screen mode, it tells me what tune is playing as soon as it starts.
  • With Mail, it'll tell me when new mail arrives and who it's from.
  • With HardwareGrowler it tells me whenever I get connect or disconnect from USB devices, hard disk and CD/DVD mounting.
  • When pages get refreshed in most browsers.
  • Xmarks gets updated.
  • RipIt is finished ripping a DVD
  • Transmit finishes an upload...
  • And so on...

It depends on the software vendor as to how much they put into it, and it is getting more popular... So much so that someone built a similar package for Windows...

I wouldn't say it's a must-have, but personally I'm glad I have it. - Wm. Chris Howard


Growl 1.2 was open source software and is still available free of charge, e.g. from MacUpdate.

Growl 1.3 was released after Apple's 2011 release of OS X 10.7 (Lion). This version of Growl is no longer a System Preference pane, but an independent app. It is also no longer free, but available for US $1.99 from the Mac App Store. Initial reviews are mixed. Updating to 1.3 was not mandatory as Growl 1.2 still works under Lion.

GrowlMail and GrowlTunesPlugin were supported independently by Rudy Richter.

The last version was Growl 2.1.3 in 2013, for OS X 10.7 Lion through to 10.9 Mavericks.

External links


  • Contributed by Chris Howard on the Mac-Ministry List, with info on v1.3 added by Neville Reid, September 2011. Updated in past tense by Neville Reid in January 2020.