I was looking for a way to get gnome style notifications in Unity. Or at least, if there´s a way of making the default Unity notifications interactive and clickable? As it is by default only a notification pops up and the user needs to find the relevant window, which I find very counterproductive.

  • This is very nearly a duplicate of this question. Also this one which points to this Webupd8 post. Have you tried any of these? If you did, what didn't work? Feb 8, 2012 at 18:18
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    "this one" mentioned relates to changing display duration, not making them "interactive and clickable". The Webupd8 solution requires adding a PPA, while a simpler solution exists, see below Jan 11, 2013 at 11:54
  • Do not take the accepted answer as the only solution; as @StéphaneGourichon points out, a much better solution is below and it works swimmingly in Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS. Nov 23, 2016 at 15:14

3 Answers 3


You can have clickable notification with Unity.

Tested with 12.10, 13.04, 13.10, 14.04, 14.10, 16.04 (thanks @ManseUK).

What we want

Notification are supposed to non-obstrusive, non-disrupting of your train of thought, and provide a shortcut when relevant.

Problem in Unity (, at least)

Default notification engine is notify-osd.

  • notifications are not clickable (which hurts efficiency for those that offer to quickly bring you to the place of interest).
  • when several happen quickly, they queue and appear only one after the other : no way to see them quickly, you just have to ... wait.


Current XFCE notifications on the other hand implement just that, and they can be used with Unity. I just tested it with a separate account (default config) to rule out any user-specific settings.


Here's how install and use XFCE4's notifications instead of Unity's:

sudo apt-get install xfce4-notifyd ; sudo apt-get purge notify-osd

To get immediate effect this may help (else logout/login):

killall -v notify-osd
/usr/lib/*/xfce4/notifyd/xfce4-notifyd &

You might want to test and adjust appearance:

  • +1 This looks interesting. I'm afraid to try it just now as I'm on 12.04 and in the middle of another project. Thanks for posting it though! I'd really like to switch to this soon. Jan 11, 2013 at 12:17
  • @tom-brossman Thanks for your feedback. I changed the order of the apt-get : first install new daemon, then remove other, to ensure dependencies are met at all times. Jan 14, 2013 at 9:04
  • @StéphaneGourichon is there any way, that when you click on notification, it would open/focus that program where notification came from?
    – user242143
    Feb 4, 2014 at 12:40
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    @Ville Rouhiainen From what I understand, it's the sending application's job to ask for a specific "action" doing this (and hope the notifyd supports it, which is not always). It may be possible to modify xfce4-notifyd (or other implementations) to offer such an action for all applications. Reference people.gnome.org/~mccann/docs/notification-spec/… . Suggestion : open a wish on bugzilla.xfce.org/buglist.cgi?product=Xfce4-notifyd Feb 4, 2014 at 18:10
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    +1 Working on 16.04 too - if Evolution Mail changed the sending font my life would be completed lol Thanks
    – Manse
    Feb 2, 2017 at 9:15

Sorry, this is not possible.

Ubuntu's notification system, NotifyOSD, as used by Unity, is designed to be un-clickable, in order to simplify the experience and not confuse users. There is no way to change that.

Gnome Shell, on the other hand, uses another built-in notification system that behaves differently to NotifyOSD, as explained in this LXNews article

  • Link to "gnome-shell-notifications-explained" is broken. I was really interested to follow it. Can we fix it? Thanks!
    – Pablo
    Nov 6, 2012 at 14:58
  • I'm sorry, I couldn't find the article online anymore Nov 12, 2012 at 11:24
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    It's mirrored on Internet Archive
    – Cas
    Nov 21, 2013 at 16:26
  • Actually, this isn't entirely true. The NotifyOSD Configuration application allows you to make Unity notifications clickable. See this answer for more info. Works in 14.04 for me.
    – Baku9
    Apr 12, 2016 at 19:42

Tested on Ubuntu Unity 18.04

You do not need to purge or remove notify-osd to switch to xfce4-notifyd. You can simply change the default notification utility.

Before you begin, install xfce4-notifyd by running the following commands:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install xfce4-notifyd

Next, run the following command to edit your default, dbus notification-service configuration file:

sudo nano /usr/share/dbus-1/services/org.freedesktop.Notifications.service

Then, edit the file to look like this:

[D-BUS Service]
# Exec=/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/notify-osd

If you notice, the 3rd line is commented out and the last two lines are added to the original file.

When you are done editing, press CTRL+o to save the file and then press CTRL+x to exit nano.

Finally, reboot to apply the changes.

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