alt - a stupidly simple but useful cli alert util

Sep 19, 2018

Often whilst programming I’ll need to leave some slow task running in the background, such as running tests or compiling code, only to forget all about it and not realise it has finished running.

alt is a really simple cli util that I’ve been using for a while that completely fixed the issue. For example:

alt finished compiling

This will:

  • create a system notification with the text “finished compiling”
  • use macOS’s built-in text-to-speech to speak “finished compiling”

Here’s what it looks like in action:

notification showing finished compiling

I am usually using the util something like this:

npm t; alt finished tests

This way, I will receive a visual alert in the form of a notifcation and an audio notification should I not even be looking at the screen at all.

Here’s the code, should you want to use it yourselves:

// bash script - add to .bashrc / .zshrc
alt() {
  /usr/bin/osascript -e "display notification with title [email protected]";
  say [email protected];

// fish script (include in ~/.config/fish/
function alt
  /usr/bin/osascript -e "display notification with title $argv"
  say $argv

Unfortunately, this is obviously macOS-only at the moment. If I end up using linux as my main dev environment again I’ll be sure to work out how to get something similar running there!

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