Improving Skype notifications on Linux

Continuing from the preview blog post on Gmail notifications, I wondered if there was a way to link Skype into libnotify. Skype uses its own notification system by default which doesn’t fit with the Gnome / Unity desktop, and looks kind of crappy. I could start a rant about Skype now, and the fact the Linux client never gets updated, seems to silently crash when open for longer than an hour, and is generally a shoddy counterpart to the Windows and Mac versions … then again since it’s been acquired by Microsoft I can’t see that this situation is going to ever improve now. Anyway, in the Options, under Notifications, if you select an event and then click Advanced, you can then clear the box that says “send a┬ánotification”, and select to run a script instead.

Advanced notification options
Advanced notification options

Using the ‘Contact came online’ event as an example, if you run the following as your ‘script’, inserting the name of a contact using the %sname variable, it looks like this:

notify-send "%sname is now online" -i skype

And for messages, you can use %smessage to insert the Skype message into a notification popup.

notify-send "%sname" "%smessage" -i skype

Skype message received
Skype message received

Much better!

A list of available variables is here.


  1. Thanks for the article. I have a script set up to email me when someone uses given keywords in a Skype chat (in case I miss a notification). Is there a way to tell what “room” the message came from (ie, the topic / title that is set on a “room”/chat)?

  2. There used to be a helpful forum post on the Skype forums that listed all of the allowed variables, but it appears to have been deleted. Unfortunately I didn’t take a copy of it, sorry.

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