I am executing every now and then some python scripts which take quite long to execute.

I execute them like this: $ time python MyScript.py

How can I play a sound as soon as the execution of the script is done?

I use Ubuntu 10.10 (Gnome desktop).

  • Are you using bash or zsh? There are actually some ways of making this happen automatically, but they're quite involved and depend on which shell you are using.
    – Mikel
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 23:06
  • $ echo $SHELL returns "/bin/bash" Commented Mar 5, 2011 at 20:39
  • Same question: askubuntu.com/questions/277215/… Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 1:24

7 Answers 7


Append any command that plays a sound; this could be as simple as

$ time mycommand; printf '\7'

or as complex as

$ time mycommand && paplay itworked.ogg || paplay bombed.ogg

(Commands assume pulseaudio is installed; substitute your sound player, which will depend on your desktop environment.)

  • 12
    +1 paplay is probably the best command to use to play a sound on a "modern" Linux system.
    – Mikel
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 23:21
  • 6
    printf '\7' doesn't work for me, but this command worked as I wanted it time python MyScript.py -n 40 && paplay /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo/desktop-login.ogg || paplay /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo/phone-outgoing-busy.ogg Commented Mar 5, 2011 at 20:43
  • printf '\7' works for me (paplay doesn't; (git shell)) but it's just a very small bip. Are there more codes that make other sounds? I tried \6, \8 but they are some characters. Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 23:20
  • 2
    @laggingreflex No, \7 (BEL) is usually the only character that possibly triggers a sound (see the Wikipedia article Control character); note that it may not always make a sound, either.
    – musiphil
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 18:31
  • 5
    @laggingreflex You probably don't need this any more but just for laughs ;) for i in {1..30}; do for j in {1..3}; do printf '\7'; sleep 0.12; done; sleep 0.4; done
    – cprn
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 20:49


sleep 2; spd-say 'get back to work'

Infinite loop with -w if you need extra motivation:

sleep 2; while true; do spd-say -w 'get back to work'; done

or if you prefer the carrot:

sleep 2; while true; do spd-say -t female1 -w "I'm done, come back to me, darling"; done

Pre-installed on 14.04 via package speech-dispatcher: http://releases.ubuntu.com/trusty/ubuntu-14.04.4-desktop-amd64.manifest for blind people I suppose?

Also add a popup

This combo is a life saver (b stands for beep):

b() ( spd-say 'done'; zenity --info --text "$(date);$(pwd)" & )

and then:


If I'm somewhere in the room, I'll hear it and know that the long job is done.

Otherwise, I'll see the popup when I get back to my computer.

Related: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/7035/how-to-show-a-gui-message-box-from-a-bash-script-in-linux

  • To get the spd-say tool associated with speech-dispatcher, you may need to install a subpackage like speech-dispatcher-utils (Fedora 24).
    – dfarrell07
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 18:27
  • 1
    Brilliant! I used to use beep but it became so complicated to configure, spd-say it's a super cool readily available alternative!
    – Antonio
    Commented Feb 9, 2022 at 16:36

Just pick a sound on your hard drive, and put a command to play it right after the command you're waiting on; they'll happen sequentially:

$ time python MyScript.py; mplayer ~/ScriptDone.wav

(You can use any player, naturally). I have a script called alertdone that plays a tone and shows an libnotify alert when run; I use it for exactly this occasion:

$ time python MyScript.py; alertdone "Done timing"

It's really simple, so if you want to make your own you can base it on this (mine requires notify-more, mplayer, and ~/tones/alert_1.wav though):

message=${1:-"Finished working"}
notify-more -t 10000 -i /usr/share/icons/gnome/32x32/actions/insert-object.png "Process Finished" "$message"
mplayer ~/tones/alert_1.wav
  • 2
    notify-more or notify-send could indeed be useful alternatives to playing a sound.
    – Mikel
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 23:19
  • @Mikel I'm completely addicted to libnotify; everything on my system pops up notifications Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 23:31
  • 1
    Arch Linux has a list of “any player”: Multimedia#Audio players. My favorite is mpv. Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 5:27
time python MyScript.py; play /path/so/sound.ogg

play is a very basic (no UI) sound player from the sox Install sox http://bit.ly/software-small package. You can replace it by any other command-line-driven sound player.

  • Yep, play, aplay, or paplay. (My Ubuntu system has aplay and paplay by default.)
    – Mikel
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 23:20
  • 1
    time python MyScript.py -n 40; paplay /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo/desktop-login.ogg worked, thanks. Commented Mar 5, 2011 at 20:46

Personally, I use my-script && notify-send "done". This sends a desktop notification, which on Linux Mint(Cinnamon) looks like this:

enter image description here


You can also make this happen automatically.

I will show you how in zsh, then add info about bash.

The essence looks like this:


    if ((SECONDS - starttime >= 5)); then
        aplay "sound.wav"
        # or printf "\b", or notify-send, or whatever

You can also make it only do it if the program was Python, e.g.

    case $3 in python*)

    if $command_is_python && ((SECONDS - starttime >= 5)); then
        aplay "sound.wav"
        # or printf "\b", or notify-send, or whatever

In bash, the best way is to download preexec.bash.txt and source it (e.g. . ~/preexec.bash.txt at the top of your ~/.bashrc, then the above (or something close to it) should work. (Not sure about the $3 bit to check if the command is Python.)

If you're using GNOME Terminal, I would also point you to Flashing GNOME Terminal. It's a patch I wrote that makes the terminal blink when a command is done, so you can Alt-Tab to something else, then it lets you know when it's done.


You don't need to add a command to everything, you can actually use a script, that does this automatically for you. It is called undistract-me and it is available on Github.


sudo apt install undistract-me    #installs the script (on Debian)
echo 'source /etc/profile.d/undistract-me.sh' >> ~/.bashrc #adds auto-enable to your console
echo 'export LONG_RUNNING_COMMAND_TIMEOUT=XXX' >> ~/.bashrc #where XXX is number of seconds when the command is long enough to alert you
echo 'export UDM_PLAY_SOUND=1' >> ~/.bashrc #to enable sound alert

now start new bash and you are set. Sound and alert can be changed by modifying the script.

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