The end of Growl: the forefather of the message center throws down


The Growl notification system is officially discontinued – after 17 years. Growl brought status messages from various programs centrally, flexibly and clearly to the user’s screen, initially only on Macs, later also on Windows PCs. What has long been a matter of course in common operating systems was groundbreaking at the start of 2004 and is likely to have significantly influenced the design and implementation of the message centers at system level.

With Apple’s integration of a notification center (“Notification Center”) in Mac OS X or macOS, the end for Growl was already in sight in 2012, says developer Chris Forsythe. He originally wanted to call Growl (“growl” in German) “Global Notifications Center”, but at the time thought it was “too geeky” and therefore chose the unusual name.

Before Growl, developers had to implement their own “very rudimentary windows” for notifications or rely on other “ugliness” that “nobody liked,” says Forsythe. The integration of Growl into the instant messaging client Adium and the IRC client Colloquy quickly made the tool popular with users, who were informed of new messages and were able to adapt the display to their own preferences. Forsythe notes that he is not sure whether there has ever been a “decent notification system” in macOS, iOS, Android & Co without Growl.

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More from Mac & i

Developers have long since switched to Apple’s message center, Forsythe continues. The change in the Mac processor architecture from x86 to ARM, which has just begun, has also contributed to putting the open source project into hibernation at the present time – especially since there is no longer a “clear path” for further improvements.

As long as software developed for Intel processors can still be executed on Macs, Growl will continue to run, but now without support. The code is on Github. Forsythe writes that developers who have built Growl into their programs should remove the framework.


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