Growl is a way for Mac applications to tell you what they are doing without getting in the users way. Programs like Chax, Skype, Yahoo Messenger,Adium, Firefox, Thunderbird, Spam Sieve, NetNewsWire, Reader Notifier, Cyberduck, Transmit, EyeTV, VLC, Pandora Boy, and many more. All of these apps need to notify the user about events and Growl is a framework developers can use to send messages to the user.
From the users perspective Growl is a System Preference Pane that is automatically installed when the user installs an app that uses Growl. Once you open the Growl Preference pane you will find options that allow you to customize how you wish to be notified. Do you want Growl in your menu bar? Do you want notifications to stay on screen until you acknowledge them after you have been away for a period of time? What section of the screen do you want your notices to appear? In the Applications tab you will see a list of applications that support Growl and enable or disable Growl notices on a per application basis. You can also click Configure and specify what notices you want and how you want them displayed on a per application basis.
In the Display Options tab the user can choose what the notices look like when they appear. Do you want your notices with a Smoke look, to be spoken, or perhaps look like an iCal notice. Growl even supports OS9 style notices if that is what you prefer.
In the network tab you can opt to have Growl notifications sent from one computer to another. For instance if you have a Mac server at home and set it to transcode a DVD into an iTunes format to watch on your Apple TV. When the transcoding is done the Handbrake application will notify Growl and Growl will notify the Mac server it is running on and your Mac laptop over the network. So you can be aware the job is done without even being in the room. Growl also makes an iPhone app that uses Push notification to let you know when your computer receives a Growl notification.
This allows you queue up things for your computer to do and notify you when the job is done while you are out and about. This gives application developers a great way of providing messages to their application users and the users a flexible way to manage notifications and decide when and where they want to get those notifications. Growl is useful for everyone from the novice to the professional. As a novice you have to do nothing and Growl just works. For those who can’t resist customizing or for someone who wants to be notified of events in a particular way it is highly configurable and customizable.
So that is Growl in a nutshell. Feel free to get in and try different settings and figure out what is right for you. For more information on Growl or to download Growl visit http://growl.info/ and download the latest version.