I'm running a series of commands on the command line that takes approximately twenty minutes to complete. I'd like to see some sort of notification on my Mac when these are finished so I don't need to monitor the terminal for when it finishes. Is there a way to do this?

$ svn update . && ant clean build start && *notify_me_somehow*


I could use xclock but this seems like a hack. Ideally I could send the notification anywhere, like my phone, screen, etc.


19 Answers 19


(svn update . && ant clean build start && say done) || say error

  • 3
    This is a wonderful example of using shell operators && to chain together several commands and wrap it up with a collective || or statement to raise an error. +1 indeed
    – bmike
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 3:16
  • 4
    Nice! To be able to do that quickly though, I give up the error vs. success information and added a global alias to my zsh: alias -g sd='; say done'. This means I only have to add sd to any command, and I'll get notified.
    – wrtsprt
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 16:34
  • nice one. and now i have something to play with Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 12:56
  • Tried and both done and error are always being said :( Example: (echo alik && echo Orly && say done) || say error Commented May 23, 2016 at 10:31
  • 1
    Very handy. I've been echoing with say -v Zarvox which makes everyone in the vicinity jump, this is a slightly less alarming notification.
    – Siddhartha
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 0:54

In Mac OS 10.8 and above you can send yourself Notification Center messages. There's a tool called terminal-notifier that you can download or install using Homebrew or Rubygems, e.g.:

brew install terminal-notifier

Check out https://github.com/julienXX/terminal-notifier for more on this tool.

To simplify the common use-case of just caring about the fact of something in the terminal being done, add an alias to your .bash_profile:

alias notifyDone='terminal-notifier -title "Terminal" -message "Done with task! Exit status: $?"' -activate com.apple.Terminal

Or, incorporating Austin Lucas' answer, you can add a sound and icon badge with tput bel:

alias notifyDone='tput bel; terminal-notifier -title "Terminal" -message "Done with task! Exit status: $?"' -activate com.apple.Terminal

Then you can simply do:

$ <long-running task> ; notifyDone

Once the long-running task finishes you'll get a nice modal popup:

Notification Center popup

When you click the notification, it will activate Terminal. If you go to System Preferences > Notifications > terminal-notifier and change the alert style to "Alerts", the notification will persist until you dismiss it.

  • 14
    terminal-notifier can be installed via homebrew, too: brew install terminal-notifier. Then you can just write myCommand && terminal-notifier -message 'finished'. Tested on OS X Yosemite (10.10.1).
    – Pwdr
    Commented Dec 26, 2014 at 12:53
  • 7
    You should run myCommand; terminal-notifier -message 'finished' otherwise the notification will not be shown if myCommand fails.
    – aheuermann
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 20:10
  • 1
    Awesome solution! By the way, this does not produce any sound like other OS X notifications. Any solution for that? Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 2:18
  • 2
    @Cupidvogel you could just add a say command, e.g. my command ; terminal-notifier -message 'finished' ; say finished Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 8:33
  • 2
    Various answers to this question give lots more details: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/57412/… Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 14:17

I know I'm late to the question but I think there's a little missing piece that may be helpful. I've found that, while it's neat, having your terminal talk with you isn't exactly functional. What's better is something more subtile like this:


As Chris pointed out, Lion has added little notification badges when a BEL is thrown. You can throw it yourself this with the command:

tput bel

So, if you're doing some work in the background and want a notification when it finishes you can try something like:

ping -c 5 www.google.com && tput bel &

This runs the ping command as a background task (the hanging & accomplishes this) and has it throw a simple alert when it finishes. Historically BEL has been used to make that [horrible] hardware beep, however Lion has tastefully replaced that with the "invalid command" sound effect, a notification badge, and the terminal icon bouncing twice in the dock.

  • 1
    printf '\a' would be equivalent to tput bel. Note that Terminal doesn't bounce the Dock icon if the tab that caused the alert is currently active.
    – Lri
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 17:51
  • This is beautiful because it doesn't require installing any additional software. iterm2 (and judging by the screenshot also Terminal) already send a notification when the bell is rang and the screen is minimized. Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 17:35

Use Growl.

In the .dmg file, look for the extras, there's a growlnotify binary. Install it, something like in /usr/local/bin. Then you can use this command

growlnotify --sticky --appIcon <icon> --message <message> -t <title>

to show a popup, like that:


  • 3
    I use nearly this exact approach but I extend Growl with Prowl so that Growl can push the notification to my iPhone.
    – Ian C.
    Commented Mar 2, 2011 at 20:46
  • 3
    Mountain Lion's Notification Center makes Growl unnecessary... see my answer for how to use it for this. Commented Jun 7, 2013 at 18:23

As of Mac OS X Lion 10.7, Terminal has some new status indicators to help with issues like this:

In tabs:

  • Activity: an activity indicator (spinning progress indicator) is displayed when there's been recent output to the terminal. This enables you to see whether it is currently busy or has completed a long process. (Or, of course, you can use it to tell when it has begun producing output after silently performing work for a while.)

  • Unread: an ellipsis "…" is displayed to indicate new, unread text in background tabs. When you select the tab, the indicator is cleared.

  • Alert: a "bell" is displayed to indicate when a BEL has been written to background tabs or background windows. In addition, Terminal displays a red badge on the application icon, indicating the number of "unread" alerts/bells in all terminals. If Terminal itself is in the background, it also bounces its Dock icon when a bell is played.

In minimized window Dock icons:

  • Activity: activity is indicated by displaying the name of the foreground process.

  • Unread: unread text is indicated with an ellipsis.

  • Minimized terminal windows show live content in their Dock icons. This can be used to see whether there's activity, or even to determine what the terminal is doing, if the output you're looking for is identifiable (e.g., a "top" display is fairly easy to recognize even at small sizes). This is especially useful when Dock magnification is turned on or you have room for a large Dock.

In addition, you could display something in the terminal to catch your attention (which would be visible even in minimized windows). For example:

  • Display a large asterisk: banner \*

  • Invert the display: printf '\e[?5h'

  • Paint the display red: tput setab 1; tput clear

  • Sit in a loop, flashing the screen: while true; do printf '\e[?5h'; sleep 1; printf '\e[?5l'; sleep 1; done

There are also escape codes for manipulating windows (move, set size, zoom, minimize, etc.). You could zoom the Terminal window, for example:

printf '\e[9;1t'

See "window manipulation" at http://invisible-island.net/xterm/ctlseqs/ctlseqs.html for details.

Another approach is to use AppleScript to display an alert in a separate window:

osascript -e 'tell app "System Events" to display alert "Build Completed" message "The checkout and build have completed."'
  • Excellent use of tput, and escape sequences - you've got everything except for a scrolling message in the title bar!
    – bmike
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 3:29

You can use the built-in osascript command to run an Apple Script that shows a notification, e.g.

osascript -e 'display notification "Command done" with title "Your title here"'

You can string it together with a simple semicolon, e.g.

your-command ; osascript -e '....'

I present in this answer two things:

  • The option of using afplay, which plays sound files, for notification.
  • my tools for reporting exit status along with the notification.

I have this script, ~/bin/donebeep:

if [ "$@" = 0 ]; then
  afplay -v 2 /System/Library/Sounds/Blow.aiff &
  afplay -v 2 /System/Library/Sounds/Sosumi.aiff &

This plays a different sound depending on whether the argument is 0. Then I have an alias:

alias donebeep='(savestatus=$?; ~/bin/donebeep $savestatus "$@"; exit $savestatus)'

(That they have the same name is irrelevant and probably a bad idea.)

To use it in your example, svn update . && ant clean build start; donebeep. Note that I am using ; rather than &&, so that it can notify me on failure as well as success.

Before I learned about afplay, I used say to speak messages instead. The role of donebeep was played by this script:

say -v Bruce "Done $(basename "$(pwd)"), $@." &

This script speaks the exit code directly instead of having two different messages. It also mentions the name of the current directory (to help clarify which task is done), and can be given additional text to say by passing parameters to the alias (that's why the alias has "$@" in it). Note the trailing & so that you do not need to wait for the speech to finish before getting a prompt.

The man page for afplay is incomplete; afplay -h lists all options:

afplay [option...] audio_file

Options: (may appear before or after arguments)
  {-v | --volume} VOLUME
    set the volume for playback of the file
  {-h | --help}
    print help
  { --leaks}
    run leaks analysis  {-t | --time} TIME
    play for TIME seconds
  {-r | --rate} RATE
    play at playback rate
  {-q | --rQuality} QUALITY
    set the quality used for rate-scaled playback (default is 0 - low quality, 1 - high quality)
  {-d | --debug}
    debug print output
  • Can't you change the script to end with & exit $@ instead of making the alias do it?
    – ProLoser
    Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 20:41

You could also use the build in say command for notification, e.g.: say "ant: build: done." See: man say in the terminal.


I wrote ntfy for exactly this purpose. It is cross-platform and can automatically send notifications when long running commands finish.

If you have Python's pip (most Linux distros and MacOS have it), here's how to install it and enable automatic notifications:

$ sudo pip install ntfy
$ echo 'eval "$(ntfy shell-integration)"' >> ~/.bashrc
$ # restart your shell

Check it out at http://ntfy.rtfd.io

In addition to that, it also can:

  • supress automatic notifications when the terminal is in the foreground (X11, iTerm2 & Terminal.app supported and enabled by default)
  • send cloud-based notifications (Pushover, Pushbullet, and XMPP)
  • be used to send notifications when a process ends (not the aforementioned automatic support)
  • manually send notifications (good for use in scripts!)

I create a simple tool that does exactly this. https://github.com/vikfroberg/brb


Node.js needs to be installed: http://nodejs.org

$ npm install -g brb


$ sleep 3; brb

Here is my bash function (just put it anywhere in your ~/.bashrc or ~/.zshrc:

  cmd=$@ # Somehow interpolate $@ directly doesn't work.
  $@ && say 'Watch Completed!' && osascript -e "display notification \"Completed: $cmd\" with title \"Watch Alert\""

To use it: watch echo 'hi there'

You can also customize the notification sound as documented here: https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/115373/9622


My problem with sounds and modal windows is that I cannot tell where they come from. I currently work with a bunch of spaces, and sometimes upwards of 20 terminal windows.

My solution is portable to the unix side, and should work with anything that supports ansi escape sequences. This solution works with Snow Leopard, and will probably work with more ancient versions of terminal.

Single line in .bash_profile

function watch { $* ; echo -n -e "\033[41m" ;  echo $* DONE ;  date ;  echo -n -e "\033[0m" ; }

Breaking that down:

$* expands to the original command I want to watch.
first escape sequence changes background color to red
echo repeats the command (with red background, the word DONE.
Running Date tells you when it finished.
last escape resets the terminal to what it was.

If you don't like red, google ascii escape codes background color. Note that this does not change the whole screen red, but just anything output after the command has finished.


iTerm2 has a built-in mechanism to get notifications but you have to install the Shell Integration.

When you start a long-running command, select:
Edit > Marks and Annotations > Alerts > Alert on next mark (⌥Option+⌘Command+A)

When the command prompt returns you can select between:

  • Show Modal Alert Box
  • Post Notification (example screenshot)


On macOS Monterey, one can issue from the terminal or a shell script:

osascript -e 'display notification "text" with title "text" sound name "default"'

To allow such notification one must go to System Preferences > Notifications & Focus > Script Editor and select Allow Notifications and Alerts (display for three seconds) or Banners (display until closed). For silent ones, omit 'sound name "default"'


Ubuntu ships the following alias in ~/.bashrc:

alias alert='notify-send --urgency=low -i "$([ $? = 0 ] && echo terminal || echo error)" "$(history|tail -n1|sed -e '\''s/^\s*[0-9]\+\s*//;s/[;&|]\s*alert$//'\'')"'

With this, you can then do things like:

make; alert
sleep 10; alert

Perhaps there's an equivalent to notify-send in Mac OSX? I've seen similar popup Windows in both Mac and Ubuntu.

  • You're on the Apple site. To make this an answer, please explain how to get notify-send on Mac OS X. Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 8:01
  • 4
    I agree that this is kind of inappropriate, but I actually found this helpful. I came to this question from Google, and my original question was not Mac-specific. Like the original poster, I want a way to not have to monitor my terminal when running command that takes a long time; I just happen to be using Ubuntu :/ Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 22:11

I made a script to solve this which is here. You don't need any extra software for this. Installation:
brew install akashaggarwal7/tools/tsay
sleep 5; tsay

Feel free to contribute!

  • Reason for downvote? Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 12:27

I do that sort of thing all the time. My command line might look like

$ rm Gemfile.lock && bin/setup && bundle install --binstubs && say "All"; say "done"

If the bin/setup and bundle install commands complete successfully, I'll hear the system/dictation voice say "All done". If either of the first two error out, then the && chain won't be followed, and all I'll hear is "Done".


I run into this issue a lot, not only with shell commands but anywhere else I need a notification when some process finishes. I found this site that gives you a URL, that when hit, sends you a text message. So you can run your command as such <some command> && curl <url> and you'll get a text when it finishes. Its at https://www.comunicake.com


As others have mentioned I use && say done since it's the most simple.

But since you mentioned that you want to receive notifications on your phone, I'd recommend something we use at work - Nudge Notifier. It's pretty neat and can send Mac, Slack, and Discord notifications for terminal commands. Even commands running over ssh.

Comes in handy when I'm out of earshot of my computer or just don't want to make obnoxious sounds at the office.

Mobile notifications


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