How to fire Mac OS X notifications with AppleScript (and Scala)

Summary: This tutorial demonstrates how to fire MacOS system notifications with AppleScript (and Scala or Java).

In this article I assume that you already know at least a little bit about how to use AppleScript, and just want to know how to trigger a MacOS notification. At the end of the tutorial I show how to invoke the AppleScript code using Scala and Java.

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A “Hello, world” MacOS AppleScript notification

To get started, here’s the code for a basic “Hello, world” AppleScript notification:

display notification "Hello, world"

The code looks like this in the AppleScript Editor:

Running this code creates a notification in the MacOS Notification Center that looks like this:

If you’re comfortable writing AppleScript, this part is straightforward.

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AppleScript: Mac notification with a sound

You can add sounds to your notifications by adding the sound name command, like this:

display notification "Hello, world" sound name "default"

With this code, the notification window looks the same as before, and you’ll also hear a sound when it’s displayed. I don’t like the default sound, so I dug around and found that you can use the names of sounds in the /System/Library/Sounds folder. I have these sounds on my current OS X 10.9 system:

Basso.aiff     -- good, but error-like (low keys on keyboard)
Blow.aiff      -- good
Bottle.aiff    -- too short
Frog.aiff      -- chirp
Funk.aiff      -- thud
Glass.aiff     -- good (like the end of a timer)
Hero.aiff      -- good
Morse.aiff     -- 'pop'
Ping.aiff      -- good
Pop.aiff       -- shorter 'pop'
Purr.aiff      -- good
Sosumi.aiff    -- good
Submarine.aiff -- good
Tink.aiff      -- too quiet

Just use the first part of each file name to trigger the desired sound. For instance, the “Purr” sound is good, so my notification code looks like this:

display notification "Hello, world" sound name "Purr"

You can see the sounds available on your system with this ls command (using the Terminal):

ls /System/Library/Sounds
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How to add a title and subtitle to your notification

You can also add a title and subtitle to your notifications. For example, this AppleScript code:

display notification "Hello, world" with title "Hello" subtitle "world"

yields this notification:

You can add sound name to that command as well.

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Running from Scala or Java

You can run AppleScript scripts from Scala and Java as well. The process looks like this:

// define your applescript command
val command = """display notification "Hello, world" sound name "Purr" """

// run the command
val runtime = Runtime.getRuntime
val code = Array("osascript", "-e", command)
val process = runtime.exec(code)

There are other ways to do this, but I’ve had problems getting those approaches to run without errors on different MacOS versions, so at the moment, I use this approach in my AppleScriptUtils project.

Note: I just tested this on Mac OS X 10.10 using Scala 2.11, and it still works as shown. (No import statements are required.)

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See also

This link on Apple’s website is a good place to start looking for more information. Just search for “notification” on that page, and follow the links.

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If you’re comfortable with Mac OS X programming, you may also know that you can run commands like this from the Unix shell. I show how to run AppleScript from the Unix command line and Unix scripts in these two articles:

In summary, if you were looking for an example of how to trigger a notification in the Mac OS X notification center using AppleScript, I hope this has been helpful.

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