How to use PushBullet to send notifications from your Android phone to a computer

pushbullet
Credit: Michael Homnick

My phone is hardly ever within earshot. It’s usually buried somewhere in my purse, or upstairs in my bedroom with the cat laying on top of it. This really annoys my friends and family, who hate it when I miss their calls. 

I am, however, usually in front of a computer, and that's where PushBullet is particularly handy: It shoots all notifications and alerts right to my desktop browser. It's similar to apps like AirDroid, since it wirelessly tethers your Android device to your computer, and it's not just limited to notifications. You can use the app to reply to emails, as well as transfer images, contact cards, to-do lists, and a variety of other of other file types back and forth between your computer and your Android device. It’s simple to set up, too. 

Getting started

screen shot 2014 06 06 at 10.37.34 am

Launch the app and it’ll ask you to choose your preferred Google account log-in if you have more than one set up on your device. Next it will ask if you want to enable Notification Mirroring service. If you decide not to enable this feature, you’ll only be able to use PushBullet as a file transfer utility with your Android device.

pushbulletchrome

For PushBullet to work on your computer, you'll have to download either the Chrome or Firefox extension, or the Windows desktop app. (I’m using the Chrome add-on for this walkthrough.) Next, PushBullet will ask you to sign up for an account so that content and alerts stay in sync across desktops and devices.

Pushing daisies and other things

pushbullet pushwhat

You can effectively “push” a variety of content types over to your computer—a note, a link, a contact card, a to-do list, a photo, or a file—or reverse the process and send files and data from your computer to your phone. You can also add friends to quickly push files and images over to their devices. 

pushbullet wherewillyoupush

Choose media from your computer...

pushbullet streams

...Or choose your Stream from the Android app.

If you initially set up Notification Mirroring, you’ll periodically see pop-ups crop up in your browser window or on the Windows application. They vary by app. Hangouts, for instance, will display every new instant message or text message, while apps like Spotify will display the download progress of a new playlist.

pushbullet notification

A Hangouts pop-up via PushBullet.

pushbullet spotify

A Spotify pop-up via PushBullet.

You can choose which apps pop up with notifications, too. I mute Hangouts because I already use a desktop app to chat, but the downside is that I'll miss out on any text message notifications. Unfortunately, PushBullet doesn’t yet let you pick and choose which notifications to ignore and which to push through for individual applications. 

Mute specific app notifications

You don’t have to wait for a notification to pop up on your computer screen to mute it. In the settings, under Notification Mirroring, you can select which apps can stream alerts and which should be silenced. You can also choose to disable all, or start over by restoring defaults.

pushbullet settings2

Note that PushBullet will send notifications over cellular connections unless you specify it not to do so. If data use is a concern, tick the Only mirror on WiFi option. From this screen, you can also send a test notification to yourself from time to time to ensure that things are working properly.

There’s also a beta feature that syncs notifications from various devices. You can try this out if you’ve got both an Android-powered tablet and phone in your gadget family, but keep in mind that it's essentially under construction for the time being. (And if you end up liking the feature, send PushBullet's developer an email.)

Make a to-do list

I like to use PushBullet to pen my to-do list for the day. I start the list in my browser and then "push" it up to my phone at the end of the day so that I can get to the remainder of the tasks after my commute home.

pushbullet browser

You can start your own to-do list by clicking on the PushBullet extension icon in your browser. At the bottom, select the second-to-last icon. It looks like a list and it's the color purple when you hover over it. 

pushbullet buttons

Give your list a title and set out some goals. When you're ready to send it over to your phone, click Push It! Once it's on your device, you can edit it to your heart's content. 

pushbullet lists

You can view your day's tasks in your browser window by logging in with your PushBullet account. If you do so with the browser, however, you'll have to refresh with every update.

Got any other PushBullet tips? Tell us all about them in a comment below.

This story, "How to use PushBullet to send notifications from your Android phone to a computer" was originally published by Greenbot.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Related:
Shop Tech Products at Amazon
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.