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skype libnotifyIf you use Skype or certain other applications on Linux, you may be annoyed by how those programs use their own notification system rather than using the system default, known as libnotify. libnotify is responsible for creating those nice little bubbles or windows that aren’t intrusive on the screen. GNOME 2.x users usually have a black bubble in the top right corner, while GNOME 3.0 GNOME 3 Beta - Welcome To Your New Linux Desktop GNOME 3 Beta - Welcome To Your New Linux Desktop Read More users get a notification across the entire bottom of their screen and KDE Enjoy A Clean, Improved Desktop With KDE 4.7 [Linux] Enjoy A Clean, Improved Desktop With KDE 4.7 [Linux] One of Linux's most popular desktop environments, KDE, released their latest series (version 4.7) at the end of July. This version improves on work done in previous releases by adding new features while improving performance... Read More users get a transparent little window in the bottom right corner, as seen in the screenshot.

skype libnotify

Thankfully though, Skype lets you change this behavior.


Skype can be downloaded from their website if you use a more popular distribution, such as Ubuntu, Fedora Fedora 15 - Bringing You The Latest In Linux Fedora 15 - Bringing You The Latest In Linux It's another great day in the world of Linux. Fedora 15 was finally released yesterday, and this new release brings a massive amount of changes compared to Fedora 14. In fact, there's so many changes... Read More , openSUSE openSUSE 11.2 - A Linux System Perfect For New Users and Pros Alike openSUSE 11.2 - A Linux System Perfect For New Users and Pros Alike Read More , or from your package repositories if you use a less popular distribution. If you use a 64-bit system, make sure that you have the correct dependencies installed. Ubuntu users shouldn’t have a problem, but there is only a 32-bit package for Fedora which requires some extra steps in order to get it to work in a 64-bit environment.

Changing The Settings

using libnotify

In order to change Skype’s notification behavior, you’ll need to go into the Settings. From there, you need to choose the Notifications tab on the left side. You’ll now see a fairly long list of different events that can occur in Skype, anywhere from logging in to phone calls. In order to change the correct options, you’ll need to click on the Advanced View button which is found on the right side of the window.


Now, for each selected event, you can change the exact notification settings. In order to achieve rerouted notifications, you’ll first need to turn off the Display pop-up notification option so that you don’t get two notifications (one of each) at the same time. Keeping the Play sound file option enabled or not is up to your personal preference.

The Command

Next, we’re going to use the Contact Signed In event as an example. You’ll need to copy this line into the Execute the following script box:

notify-send "Contact Signed In" "%name is now online." -i skype

using libnotify

What this command does is invoke the notify-send command, which is used by libnotify to generate a notification. “Contact Signed In” is the first parameter, which is used for the title of the notification. “%name is now online.” is the second parameter, which is used for the main text of the notification. The %name portion is a variable in which the name of the involved contact will be substituted for %name. Finally, -i skype simply tells libnotify that you’d like to use an icon (the skype icon) with your notification. libnotify can only use icons that are installed, so not any parameter will work with -i.

The final result will look something like this:

skype libnotify

This procedure isn’t exactly perfect, as you’ll need to copy, paste, and adjust this command for every other event in Skype. Additionally, you’ll want to avoid using this on special notification types such as calls where the Skype-default includes some buttons to accept or decline a call, whereas the libnotify way won’t present those buttons to you.


libnotify is a great way to keep the notification styles of all supported applications uniform and simply “pretty”. While Skype doesn’t take advantage of this piece of software by default, it’s good to know that there are still ways where it’s possible, and who knows how many other programs support these types of modifications?

What other kinds of Linux fixes would you like to see? Is there a problem you just can’t seem to solve? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Username not found
    December 2, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Where can I find the other parameters?

    • Danny Stieben
      December 7, 2011 at 6:58 pm

      I saw a list of other parameters once, but I lost it and couldn't find it since. I'm not sure what else would actually be helpful besides what's mentioned in the article and these comments. You can also try a few out. Maybe there are parameters such as %stime or so.

      Good luck!

  2. Ben Stokes
    October 21, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Use %smessage for a chat message

  3. Androd94
    October 12, 2011 at 1:11 am

    alright, thanks, any idea of other variables for say a chat message etc?

    • Danny Stieben
      October 17, 2011 at 8:01 pm

      I thought for a minute that there was a list of other variables out somewhere, but I can't seem to find them. If I do happen to find them again, I'll let you know.

  4. Chad Merkert
    October 9, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    It should %sname instead of %name. It shows it properly in the screenshot.

  5. Androd94
    October 9, 2011 at 5:06 am

    libnotify shows "%name" instead of the contacts actual name, idea ideas on a fix?

    • Danny Stieben
      October 17, 2011 at 7:59 pm

      That is quite strange, I thought that it was working when using %name, though I may have missed the 's' somewhere. I am glad that it works for you when using %sname.

  6. Eyebee
    October 8, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    This is cool