Putting your Mac's Caps Lock LED to good use
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Brew Notify

Putting your Mac's Caps Lock LED to good use

What is it?

I neither use nor like Caps Lock. In fact, I disable it in OS X and use PCKeyboardHack so that it functions as an Escape key (for Vim purposes). That's great and all, but it leaves the Caps Lock on/off LED to disuse.

Brew Notify is a simple utility that uses the Caps Lock LED to indicate whether there are any outdated Homebrew packages.


While the Brew Notify scripts can be adjusted to account for an alternative setup, they were written to accomodate the following environment.

  • BASH-like /bin/sh (provided with OS X)
  • Homebrew installed to the default /usr/local location
  • Homebrew-installed Ruby
  • MacLight Ruby gem (maclight)



This repository must first be cloned to your machine. These instructions assume that the repository will be cloned into a subdirectory of ~/apps:

mkdir ~/apps && cd ~/apps
git clone https://github.com/cfree3/brew-notify.git ~/apps


launchd should load the job automatically upon your next login if the plist is in your LaunchAgents:

cd ${HOME}/Library/LaunchAgents
ln -s ~/apps/brew-notify/com.curtisfree.brew-notify.plist .

When complete, if you would like to load the job in your current session, simply ask launchd to do so:

launchctl load com.curtisfree.brew-notify.plist


By default, Brew Notify is configured to run once every 12 hours. To run the job on demand:

launchctl start com.curtisfree.brew-notify

Notes and resources

  • It's easy to create a launchd job.
  • The brew_notify.sh script uses some tricks to determine where executables are. This is because launchd's path might not be as thorough as your own.
  • The Caps Lock LED does not turn off automatically after packages have been updated. Such a feature could be implemented as a shell function that wraps brew, or it can be turned off manually via maclight keyboard toggle --capslock 0.


Brew Notify is released under the MIT license (see LICENSE.md).


I give no assurance of this utility's security, and I do not guarantee that it will not zap your computer and fry your homedir. Use at your own risk.