Tweak the notification center in Mountain Lion to be somewhat useful, by adding notifications from the programs you care about to it. With a few tweaks you can add every Growl program to the notifications center, along with content from your favorite web sites and apps. You can even add all of your favorite TV show listings.
My friend and co-host James outlined 8 tips for making great use of the notification center, and they’re all solid. I’d like to add a few ideas of my own, however, because I’ve just finished my first week of using Apple’s latest operating system and I’ve learned a few things along the way. So let’s start!
Add Growl In a Way That Doesn’t Suck With Bark
The obvious problem with the Mountain Lion notification center is that it doesn’t entirely replace Growl, a notification system many Mac users don’t realize wasn’t made by Apple. Hundreds of apps depend on Growl for notifications, whereas the number of apps supported by the App Center is (still) tiny. Apple-made apps like Mail and iCal are covered but many others do not.
Stop-gap app HIss solved this problem, sort of: apps that would otherwise send notifications to Growl sent notifications to the Notification Center. It wasn’t perfect, though: every program would be listed in the Notification Center as coming from “Hiss”.
This theme for Growl re-directs Growl notifications to the Notification center, meaning Adium notifications show up under Adium and Spotify notifications show up under Spotify. Even better: you can use the Notification Center settings to determine how each individual program displays, meaning you don’t need to see banners for your email just because you want them for your instant messages.
It’s a huge improvement, so download Bark now. This only works with the version of Growl in the App store, which isn’t free. Once you install Bark you need to open the Growl settings, head to the “Display” tab and pick “Bark” under Actions:
Adding RSS Feeds
Do you want to know immediately when a very important RSS feed is updated? You can!
RSS Application is a very simple program that runs from the Mac menu bar. It doesn’t do much of anything, except send every new item from your chosen RSS feeds to the notification center.
It’s a very simple way to stay on top of every post from a particular site. It was rejected from the Mac App Store for being too simple, but you can download RSS Application now and hope Apple changes its mind later.
Add Remember The Milk (Sort Of)
The notification center isn’t the only new thing in Mountain Lion: there’s also the Reminders app, which syncs your to-do list with the iPhone using iCloud. It’s perfect for people who’ve bought into Apple’s devices completely, but not for those of us who like switching from Mac to Android to Linux to Windows.
For them Remember The Milk has always worked well, and while there’s no perfect way to add Remember The Milk to the Notification center there are a couple. You can set up Remember The Milk’s new browser notifications, or you can copy the “Events” calendar from Remember The Milk and subscribe to it in iCal. Make sure it’s the “Events” calendar (highlighted below); the other one will not work.
Niether solution is perfect: the first requires that you leave a browser open to Remember The Milk in order to see reminders while the other allows you to see notifications tied to specific days. Still, until Remember The Milk offers full CalDAV support, this is what we get – and it’s better than nothing.
Add TV listings
A while ago I pointed out that FollowShows allows you to track your favorite shows. The service offers a great web interface as well as an iCal calendar and an RSS feed:
If you want all of your favorite shows to show up in the Mountain Lion Notification Center, then, you have two choices: subscribe to the iCal calendar or add the RSS feed to RSS Application (explained above). Either way, you’ll never miss your favorite shows again.
Those are the main ideas I’ve come up with. Want more? You can use iTunification to get notifications from iTunes and Spotify in the Notification Center or post to Twitter or Facebook using the Notification Center. You can also learn a whole lot more at our OS X Mountain Lion guide.
Or you can read the comments below, because I’m sure readers will chip in their ideas below. Over to you, then!