System notifications

Achilleas Pipinellis edited this page Jun 8, 2017 · 11 revisions

You can configure Guard to notify plugin results through one or more channels described below. If you do not specify a specific notification channel with the notification DSL method, then Guard auto-detects all available channels and makes use of them.


The ruby_gntp gem sends system notifications over the network with the Growl Notification Transport Protocol and supports local and remote notifications. To have the images be displayed, you have to use instead of localhost in your GNTP configuration.

Guard supports multiple notification channels for customizing each notification type. For Growl on Mac OS X you need to have at least version 1.3 installed.

To use ruby_gntp you have to add it to your Gemfile and run bundler:

group :development do
  gem 'ruby_gntp'


  • Runs on Mac OS X
  • Supports all Growl versions

The growl gem is compatible with all versions of Growl and uses a command line tool growlnotify that must be separately downloaded and installed. The version of the command line tool must match your Growl version. The growl gem does not support multiple notification channels.

You have to download the installer for growlnotify from the Growl download section.

To use growl you have to add it to your Gemfile and run bundler:

group :development do
  gem 'growl'


  • Runs on Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD and Solaris
  • Supports Libnotify

The libnotify gem supports the Gnome libnotify notification daemon, but it can be used on other window managers as well. You have to install the libnotify-bin package with your favorite package manager.

To use libnotify you have to add it to your Gemfile and run bundler:

group :development do
  gem 'libnotify'

If you are unable to build the libnotify gem on your system, Guard also has a built in notifier - notifysend - that shells out to the notify-send utility that comes with libnotify-bin.

Please note that NotifyOSD, which is the default notification UI on Ubuntu and possibly other systems, ignores the timeout parameter for libnotify.


  • Runs on Windows
  • Supports Notifu

The rb-notifu gem supports Windows system tray notifications.

To use rb-notifu you have to add it to your Gemfile and run bundler:

group :development do
  gem 'rb-notifu'

Terminal Notifier

  • Runs on Mac OS X 10.8 or higher

The terminal-notifier-guard sends notifications to the OS X Notification Center.

To use terminal-notifier-guard you have to add it to your Gemfile and run bundler:

group :development do
  gem 'terminal-notifier-guard'

Terminal Title

  • Runs in every terminal supporting XTerm escape sequences to set the window title.



  • To use TMux notifications, you have to start Guard within a TMux session.

The TMux notifier will color the background of the left part of the status bar indicating the status of the notifications. Optionally you can set :display_message => true to display the Guard notification as 'display-message' notification.

The way these messages are formatted is configurable.

# Guardfile
notification :tmux,
  display_message: true,
  timeout: 5, # in seconds
  default_message_format: '%s >> %s',
  # the first %s will show the title, the second the message
  # Alternately you can also configure *success_message_format*,
  # *pending_message_format*, *failed_message_format*
  line_separator: ' > ', # since we are single line we need a separator
  color_location: 'status-left-bg', # to customize which tmux element will change color

  # Other options:
  default_message_color: 'black',
  success: 'colour150',
  failure: 'colour174',
  pending: 'colour179',

  # Notify on all tmux clients
  display_on_all_clients: false

The color location option can also take an array:

color_location: %w[status-left-bg pane-active-border-fg pane-border-fg]

The result will be for RSpec using example above

RSpec >> 15 test, 0 failures > in 0.002 sec

You can use nice powerline chars here if you have that configured.

You can get the message history by using Ctrl+b ~ (where Ctrl+b is your key to activate TMux).


  • You can also have Guard write notifications to a file. Each notification will overwrite the file. This allows other commands to be run based on the status of other guard commands.


# Guardfile
notification :file, path: '.guard_result'

guard :shell do
  watch '.guard_result' do
    if'.guard_result').lines.first.strip == 'failed'
      # ...


# Guardfile
notification :file,
  path: '.guard_result', # Required, no default
  format: "result: %s\ntitle: %s\nmessage: %s\n" # Default: "%s\n%s\n%s\n"

Disabling notifications

If you wish to disable the notifications, you can use display_message: false:

# Tmux
notification :tmux, display_message: false

# Libnotify
notification :libnotify, display_message: false

# Terminal notifier
notification :terminal_notifier, display_message: false

# Terminal title
notification :terminal_title, display_message: false

To disable all notifications, add the following:

notification :off
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