How to Get Android Notifications on Your Computer Desktop (Mac, Linux or Windows)

Do you want to be notified of Android notifications like calls, text messages, low battery alerts and more when you’re on your computer? An open source mobile application called “Android Notifier” does this by connecting your mobile phone’s notification system to the notification system on your computer. The desktop application currently works on Mac only, via the popular notification app, Growl. The project’s developer says the Linux port will arrive “soon” and he’s looking for volunteers who will connect the app to Windows systems as well.

But he needn’t bother. We came across another application called the “Android-Notifier-Desktop” which offers a multi-platform desktop client for the above mobile app to the overlooked Linux and Windows users.

Below is the complete installation guide to using both of these apps on your computer. 

According to the project homepage, hosted here on Google Code, the “Android-Notifier” mobile application is useful for people who wear noise-cancelling headphones, keep their cell phone in their bags or don’t want to be interrupted to look at vibrating phone while in a meeting.

The mobile app sends notifications to the computer it’s connected to, including things like new text messages (both SMS and MMS), the phone number of the incoming call, battery status notifications, new voicemails and more.

The desktop app connects to the phone over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or, in the future, USB. The Bluetooth method is only supported on Android 2.0, however, due to restrictions in older Android versions. (To determine what version of Android you use now, go to Settings -> About Phone -> Firmware version.)

How to Install and Use the Notifier App

To get started with this app, do the following:

Bluetooth Method

  1. Install and run the Android app from the Android Market. (You can scan this barcode to find it).
  2. Install and run the Desktop app for your OS from the Downloads section.
  3. Ensure your Android device is paired with your desktop (Settings > Wifi and networks > Bluetooth settings on Android)
  4. Enable the Bluetooth notification method on the Android app’s settings (enabled by default)
  5. Open Bluetooth options in the Android app’s settings:
  6. Enable the Bluetooth notification method on the desktop app’s settings (enabled by default)
  7. The desktop app will listen to and start displaying events from the Android app. 
  8. You can now exit the Android app – the notifications service will be running in the background by default.
  • Device pairing – select this to open Android’s system bluetooth options, where you can pair your target device
  • Target device – once your device is paired, select this option to send notifications to a specific device. If this is set to “Any device” (the default), the notifications will be sent to the first computer device found
  • Auto-enable bluetooth – if enabled, notifications can be sent over bluetooth even if you keep it disabled – every time the app needs to send a notification, it enables it, sends the notification, then disables it again. The downside of this option is that it can take multiple seconds for the notification to actually be sent.

Wi-Fi Method

  1. Install and run the Android app from the Android Market. (You can scan this barcode to find it).
  2. Install and run the Desktop app for your OS from the Downloads section.
  3. Ensure both the desktop and the device are on the same network.
  4. If you have a firewall on your desktop, ensure it will allow incoming UDP packets on port 10600
  5. Enable the Wi-Fi notification method on the Android app’s settings (enabled by default)
  6. Open the Wi-Fi options in the Android app’s settings
  7. Enable the Wi-Fi notification method on the desktop app’s settings (enabled by default)
  8. The desktop app will listen to and start displaying events from the Android app.
  9. You can now exit the Android app – the notifications service will be running in the background by default.
  • Target IP address – this is the IP address notifications will be sent to. While the default (global broadcast) is sufficient for most cases, you may want one of the following options instead:

    • Global broadcast – sends notifications to 255.255.255.255 (should work on most networks);
    • DHCP broadcast – detects the DHCP configuration of your current Wi-Fi network and uses its broadcast address for sending notifications. If no DHCP information is set (e.g. you’re using a static IP), the notifications won’t be sent;
    • Custom address – allows you to type in a specific IP address to send notifications to (doesn’t need to be a broadcast address). This is useful if your network doesn’t allow broadcast packets, or you want to prevent others in the network from receiving your notifications.
  • Wi-Fi sleep policy – this is a system setting from Android which controls when the Wi-Fi will be turned off. By default, it’s turned off whenever the screen is turned off – if you want to get notifications when the screen is off, you probably want to change this default to either “never when plugged” or “never” – these options will consume a little more battery, but will ensure notifications are always delivered
  • Auto-enable Wi-Fi – if you do not wish to keep your Wi-Fi on all the time with the above option, and can tolerate notifications being delayed by a few seconds, then this option will make Wi-Fi be turned on whenever a notification needs to be sent, and then turned off again after it’s been sent. The extra delay introduced is the time it takes for your phone to join a network.

Windows, Linux Users: Get This App Too

Because of the popularity of the original application, many users wanted Linux or Windows support. Unfortunately, the original project was not offering these options – it was Mac-only. Another developer released a second program that enables multi-platform support for not only Mac, but also Linux and Windows users (XP and up). It even has 32 and 64-bit options available for each of the supported operating systems.

To install this desktop app instead, head over to the downloads section and choose the appropriate version for your OS. Java 6 is also required.

Another Option for Windows Users

Another option for Windows users is a bit of hack. A third developer created a simple Windows application here that uses the Microsoft Winsock component. You just place this MSWINSCK.OCX file in your C:WidnowsSystem 32 folder in order to use it. On your Android phone, you’ll need to connect to your wireless network, choose a custom IP and key in the IP of the machine using the program. The program supports PING (testing connection packets), SMS and RING (calls) only.

Do you know of any other programs that do the same? Let us know in the comments.

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