Review All Of Your Notifications On Your Ubuntu Desktop [Linux]

Justin Pot 04-04-2012

Do you think you’re missing too many notifications on your Ubuntu computer? Then keep a running list of them all in your system tray, ensuring you’ll never miss a single one. An easy-to-install applet gives you a list you can look over and clear whenever you want, similar to the tray on Android devices and the notification center on Macs running the upcoming Mountain Lion version of OS X A Preview Of Features In The Next OSX, Mountain Lion [Mac] Last week, Apple announced preliminary details of the next major release of OSX, named Mountain Lion. Some are calling it non-news - an incremental upgrade with no real new features or changes. I'll let you... Read More .


The notifications offered by default in Ubuntu are just about perfect. They’re attractive and keep you informed, but they don’t get in your way. Hover the mouse over and they become transparent, and you can click through them as though they don’t exist.

There is one problem, though. If you walk away from your computer for a while they’re easy to miss. The various indicator applets included by default in Ubuntu help address this, but if you want one applet to rule them all I highly recommend Indicator Notifications.

Using Indicator Notifications

Not sure which notifications I’m talking about? I’m talking about the black pop-ups that let you know about everything from incoming email to what song just started playing. They’re the ones that look like this:

ubuntu desktop notification

Most programs on Ubuntu use them these days, and you can even install a plugin to get Chrome to use Ubuntu’s native notifications 4 Google Chrome Plugins Every Ubuntu User Should Check Out Read More . Emails, tweets, instant messages and much more are presented to you in real time, if you don’t miss them.


They typically stay on the screen long enough for you to notice them, but if you walk away from your computer you’re likely to miss a few. That’s where Indicator Notifications comes in. This simple program collects the content of these messages so you can review them anytime. Just click the mailbox icon in your tray to see all recent notifications:

linux desktop notification

The list can and will grow quickly. You can click any notification to remove it instantly, or click the “clear” button at the bottom of the list to remove them all.

ubuntu desktop notification


The icon for this indicator is green when there are new notifications to see; the rest of the time it’s white. Overall it’s a simple tool, but one I’m sure a few Ubuntu users are looking for.

Download & Install

Ready to check this out? You can run the following three commands from the command line:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:jconti/recent-notifications
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install indicator-notifications

The first line of code there adds a new PPA containing the software. This allows you to install Indicator Notifications now and get updates later. The second line of code updates your package list, ensuring you can install software from the new PPA. The final line of code actually installs your software.


Alternatively, you can use Y PPA to easily add a PPA with a GUI Y PPA Manage: A GUI For Managing Ubuntu PPAs [Linux] Do you want to avoid using the command line when installing bleeding edge software? Then manage your Ubuntu PPAs from a simple GUI with Y PPA Manager. Ubuntu users get their software from the Ubuntu... Read More . Just remember – the PPA you want to add is ppa:jconti/recent-notifications. Once you do that you can install the “indicator-notifications” package from the Ubuntu Software Center. GUI simplicity!


Notifications are great, but only useful if you notice them. This software ensures you’ll never miss a notification in Ubuntu, so check it out if that’s important to you.

Feel free to leave questions in the comments below, along with any other great Ubuntu tips you’d like to share.

Related topics: Notification, Ubuntu.

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  1. Edmund Ciego
    February 18, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    This is awesome! Is it open source? Where does this guy keep his source code? I'd really like to look at it. Great work. Innovative thinking. I dig it :)

  2. Adam
    April 5, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    I tried to install this but I get an error:
    E: Unable to locate package indicator-notifications

    The ppa add went fine, so I'm wondering what the problem is?

    • Justin Pot
      April 5, 2012 at 2:41 pm

      Did you update your package list? That's the only thing I can think of. I even double-checked the name of the package, and it's "indicator-notifications".

      • Adam
        April 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm

        Yeah, I did the apt-get update, I get these errors:
        Err maverick/main i386 Packages
        404 Not Found
        W: Failed to fetch [Broken Link Removed]

        I'm not sure if either have to do with the indicators-notifications ppa though.

        Here's my ppa add output (after already adding it once):
        awright@Hyperion:~$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:jconti/recent-notifications
        Executing: gpg --ignore-time-conflict --no-options --no-default-keyring --secret-keyring /etc/apt/secring.gpg --trustdb-name /etc/apt/trustdb.gpg --keyring /etc/apt/trusted.gpg --primary-keyring /etc/apt/trusted.gpg --keyserver --recv 25259BF2B564FCE366DAF1D252A794126E3AB2D3
        gpg: requesting key 6E3AB2D3 from hkp server
        gpg: key 6E3AB2D3: "Launchpad Recent Notifications" not changed
        gpg: Total number processed: 1
        gpg: unchanged: 1

        Any ideas?

        • Justin Pot
          April 5, 2012 at 4:45 pm

          I see you're using Maverick, which is the codename for Ubuntu 10.10. I think this package is meant for Unity, which 10.10 doesn't use. You could try installing "recent-notifications" or "recent-notifications-gtk2" instead, because if 10.10 is supported one of these two things is what you're looking for.

        • Adam
          April 5, 2012 at 5:13 pm

          Ahhh. Yeah I've been using 10.04 LTS for a long time and (like many ubuntu users) I don't like Unity so I never upgraded to 11.04 or 11.10.
          You should edit your post to note that this only works on Unity Ubuntu installations for anyone else having this problem.
          I might reconsider Unity now that there's a new LTS coming out this month.

        • Lazza
          April 8, 2012 at 8:37 am

          @ Adam, the post says that thing is an indicator applet, which is the technology that Unity uses. Also, considering Ubuntu 10.04 and 10.10 are more than a year old (a decade compared to the Ubuntu release cycle) i think PPAs (and blog posts) are not really supposed to support all of the previous versions, it would require a lot of time.