Blog Post

Prowl: Get Any Growl Notifications Via Push On Your iPhone


Remember when you had to click on an application to make it active, and hit refresh in order to find out if anything new had happened? It’s been a long while now, since most desktop programs can run in the background and notify you when something requires your attention. The iPhone approximates that same functionality via the newly introduced push notification features, though apps aren’t actually running in the background, so special support is required from app developers to enable it.

As far as I’m concerned, push has already been a game-changer. My iPhone is now my dedicated IM client, lets me monitor any and all Blue Jays games no matter where I am, and keeps me on-task with my to-do list. But that’s not all. Thanks to a new app called Prowl ($2.99, iTunes link), my iPhone can keep me abreast of pretty much anything, via my Mac and a useful app many will already be familiar with, Growl.

Growl, in case you aren’t aware, is an open notification platform for OS X that supports a wide variety of applications. Basically, it alerts you via an on-screen pop-up and/or sound when one of its supported applications receives a message, finishes a task, and so on. So, for example, using a Mail plugin, I receive a Growl notification whenever I get an email, or when I’m mentioned or receive a DM on Twitter via Tweetie’s built-in Growl support. It’s a very handy tool to have, especially if you keep your dock hidden, as I do, or if you’re working with many different applications on multiple screens.


Now you can receive Growl notifications on your iPhone, too, in the form of push notifications, thanks to Prowl. I can’t even begin to explain how useful this could potentially be, depending on your usage. Already, I have it set up to notify me of new mail (which works better than Apple’s (s aapl) wn push mail, in my opinion, because it allows me to see the sender and some content of the received message), let me know when I receive new @ replies and DMs via Twitter (which I can then check out in Tweetie), and alert me whenever Transmission finishes downloading or seeding a torrent file.


Not only can Prowl alert you of whatever Growl can, but it can also receive custom alerts sent from a web interface. When you set up Prowl, you sign up for an account that’s necessary for syncing Growl on your computer with Prowl on your iPhone. Using that same login, you can go to the Prowl web site and send yourself messages. Any applicable content in that message will be automatically hot-linked, like emails and phone numbers. Very handy for sending a contact number to yourself for future reference.


Prowl is potentially the most effective application of push I’ve yet seen on the iPhone platform, especially if you’re already using Growl (which you should be). The best part is that it’s limited only by Growl itself, which is infinitely expandable, so long as developers keep supporting it. Probably the best $3 I’ve ever spent in the App Store.

39 Responses to “Prowl: Get Any Growl Notifications Via Push On Your iPhone”

    • Carlos

      I’ve installed the preference pane, configured it to notify me, but the main problem is that my device won’t show on the “devices” tab. So, i can’t even send a notification from the website.

      In the meantime, i’ve just installed Textfree lite, which has push and its working. I’ll wait for a possible update to fix this.

    • Tamara

      It sounds like it’s not push that’s the problem, it’s a problem with the app registering the device on the prowl website. Therefore, pushes are not sent to the device at all. So whether or not other push apps work doesn’t have anything to do with the problem.

      Wish I could help, but my Prowl set up fine.

    • I’d suggest emailing the developer. I sent some feature suggestions earlier this afternoon and got a nice email back. The contact details are on the website (Under the about tab).

      Good luck!

  1. Bought this yesterday – works beautifully. I’ve got a couple of shell command scripts which call growlnotify, and this app just makes the entire process even nicer.

    Really hoping that the 1.1 update will bring more polish to the user interface.

    @Carlos – have you tried doing a hard reset?

    • Carlos

      Yeah… tried almost everything. Reinstalling the app, rebooting, enabling/disabling notifications (per app and general), but nothing makes it work.

      But what drive me nuts is that other apps have push working, like AIM, IM+ and Rolando 2.

      Still trying to figure out…

  2. Carlos

    I’m also having problems with this. Bought the app but my device never appears on the website. And no, my phone is not jailbroken (hacktivated).

    Anyone else got it working?

  3. romaindardour

    Just finished setting up a sweet centralized server monitoring system using Prowl, that works really well it seems :

    ruby-growl used in a few monitoring scripts on our linux servers,
    notifies our in-house OSX server,
    that in turn pushes alerts to iPhone.

    Works wonderfully. This is quite a breaktrhough.
    Let’s hope Prowl proves stable and then we can dump all other forms of notifications :)

  4. sskennel

    Prowl sounds fabulous – I can’t wait to try it.

    Just d/led Beejive today and have been exercising it. Seems to work very well.

  5. ebbinator

    So, if your mac has growl notifications set, but the computer is currently off (lets say its at home, and I go out to run errands), will those not be pushed, or will it be kept on a network somewhere and pushed anyway?

  6. scifi451

    What IM application do you use that has push support? I am curious what the best IM application is, I am hesitant to buy any of the $10 chat apps, first off just dont think chat is worth paying that much and if it the app sucks, $10 is a lot to waste.

    • Simon

      I bought Beejive long ago since I was pretty sure they would add push (which they did) and I really like it. I can only compare it to the free version of Palringo, but Beejive’s definately worth its price.

    • Alexander Kellett

      to save you the trouble…
      i’ve used beejive for the last year.
      its horribly unreliable.
      don’t bother.
      get im+ with push.
      it actually works, and has skype too.
      Alex (who is quite pissed off with beejive because he paid the $14 starting price and it NEVER worked reliably enough for him to be comfortable using it for anything of any importance)

  7. Just downloaded and tested it. It’s rather cool!

    Great for when I’m working at home and not sat at the iMac or laptop and a message comes through rather than having to check the screen every 5 minutes.

  8. Simon

    So Prowl requires a mac running somewhere? That’s a shame since I use a stationary pc most of the time and my macbook far less often.