How to create push notifications for iOS with Pushover

Pushover is a push notification service that lets you send notifications for almost anything to your mobile iOS device.

Pushover app

Push notifications seem to inundate our mobile lives these days, consistently coming in at times that is less than ideal. What if you could customize your mobile experience so that you only receive notifications that are important to you by creating your own push notifications, using things like instant messages, emails, eBay notifications, and so much more? Well, there's an app that can do just that called Pushover. With Pushover, you can send almost anything to the application as a push notification. Let's take a closer look.

What you'll need

Before you begin, here are the requirements:

Setting up Pushover on iOS

The first step to using Pushover is to head to the iTunes App Store and download a copy of the app for your iOS device (there's also a version of Pushover available for Android). On the iOS side of things, it works on both iPhone and iPad. Once it's downloaded, open the application, and follow these steps:

  1. When prompted, create an account or sign into your existing Pushover account. Creating an account is free once you have the application (Figure A).
  2. When prompted, select that you'd like the application to send you push notifications.

Figure A

Figure A
Follow the step-by-step setup instructions to create an account.

Note that you can also sign up for a Pushover account on their website and simply sign in using the application on your devices. Once you have an account, you can log into your account on their website to manage things like user keys and more.

Next, you'll need to retrieve the Pushover User Key for your account so that you can begin sending notifications to your device(s). Just follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the Pushover website
  2. Click the Pushover logo to go to your Account Overview page. Here, you'll see your User Key. Copy this long string and keep it somewhere handy and safe for the time being (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B
Be sure to keep the key safely stored to prevent unauthorized push notifications.

Sending notifications to your devices

Pushover can integrate with a wide variety of applications and web services to allow you to automatically send custom notifications to your iOS devices. For the demonstration purposes of this tutorial, however, let's examine how to send emails directly to your iOS device as a push notification using the User Key that you copied from your Pushover account dashboard.

To do this, simply write an email to [YourUserKey] (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C
To receive push notifications via email, just send an email to

Once you've sent the email, the message body will appear as a push notification on your devices with Pushover installed (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D
Notifications sent through the Pushover application will arrive to your iOS devices.

When you open Pushover, you'll see that the application keeps track of the outlets where the push notifications originated, allowing you to organize notifications from services, email, etc (Figure E).

Figure E

Figure E
Pushover organizes notifications in the app by the originating source.

Using this special email address, you can interface with your email client or provider using rules (such as forwarding rules in Gmail) to set important messages to be forwarded as push notifications to your mobile device so that you're always in the loop when it comes to important items.

Final thoughts

You can use Pushover with a single account on multiple devices to ensure that you receive your notifications no matter where you're at. This is a great and easy way to set up your own personal notification service for the things that matter to you. The best part is that you can send notifications from almost anywhere using existing services or by creating your own scripts. IFTTT, Adium, or even your own custom scripts can use the Pushover API to send notifications. For instance, I use a custom shell script that alerts me when my server backups have started and completed. The possibilities are really endless.

Do you use a notification service like Pushover? What type of integrations are currently set up? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.