How To Customize Windows Notification Messages with Snarl
Snarl is a universal notification handler for Windows. Under normal running, applications (or Windows) display bits of information in a comment balloon or a bubble in the area of the system tray called the notification area. They simply inform or suggest a course of action for us to follow – through the instructions or by clicking on the notification itself.
Windows offers very little by way of customizing Windows notification messages. You can, at the most, change the color by modifying the Tooltip color or disable/enable them from some individual applications. There is no universal notification manager.
Snarl is a freeware program which attempts to change that by giving some customizing power to the user. By the looks of it, it’s almost similar to Mac’s Growl (another huffy name!). Growl has a Windows counterpart too, which is in the beta stage now.
Is Snarl worth a shout? Let’s check it out.
Snarl R2.21 (V40.15) is a 5.9 MB download and, on installation, can be accessed from the Start Menu and the system tray. The first time Snarl starts up for your system, it tests the rate of blended images which your graphics card can render. A few seconds later, Snarl is ready to go.
Snarl operates in the background silently using a very light memory footprint. The interface can be accessed with a right click on the system tray icon.
Working with a Snarl
- Snarl supports a variety of applications and manages their notifications from its centralized interface.Straight after an install Snarl supports system notifications like battery level warnings, system events, timer and on the hour clock alerts.
- Snarl is extensible through many available extensions. Extensions are like small modules, each for a specific application or task.Snarl’s real use lies with the gallery of extensions. Extensions are like modules designed for specific applications. Installation and registration of these little extension files with Snarl’s allows the program to capture the Windows notification messages and display them through Snarl’s centralized system.
- The extensions are grouped in various categories. They can be managed and disabled from within Snarl.
- Snarl can display multiple notifications and does not take keyboard focus away when displaying a notification.Snarl brings all Windows notification messages for applications it supports under a common umbrella. Whether it’s a Firefox download progress or a Gmail notifier, a user knows where to look for all the info. The user can also select or deselect the types of notifications from a single program from the Preferences box.
Notifications can also be setup with sound alerts using Snarl. A “˜view only’ mode makes the notification box invisible to the mouse pointer, so the user can click any Windows program right through it.
- Snarl allows the user to customize the appearance and the display characteristics of individual notifications.Snarl supports a variety of styles (23 in its gallery). The styles can be downloaded for use. Styles have themes which are like color schemes for each style.
Notification appearance can be customized by setting there opacity levels, duration of display and positions.
- Snarl captures missed notifications.A right click on the system tray icon and you can access the Missed Notifications box in case you missed an important one.
So is it worth the shout?
As a notification manager, yes it has lots of bells and whistles. The real essence though lies with the extensions and the program’s extensibility to the wide range of applications out there. Some of the most used ones like Gmail notification, iTunes, Firefox, Sunbird, Google Reader, PidGin, Skype, Thunderbird and a couple of Twitter clients are covered. But definitely a lot more need to be added. Handling the app takes a bit of trial and error and though the Preview button on the program helps, a Help file would have been better.
Snarl is pleasing to the eye with its gallery of looks enhancing styles. It is very light and does act as an attractive shell replacement program.
Snarl is a free and open source program and is compatible with Windows XP/Vista
What are your thoughts on the program? Have you used Snarl or a similar notification alternative?