RPushbullet Build Status License

R interface to Pushbullet

Pushbullet is an awesome (and free) service to pass messages between your computer, phone and tablet. It offers immediacy which is perfect for alerting, and much more.

To use it, just register as a user to obtain an API key, and maybe install the Android or iPhone app, or one of the supported browser extension or desktop applications. See the Pushbullet documentation for more, in particular

Package Status

The package is functional, yet still young and thus subject to change.

Initial explorations at the end of March 2014 were not entirely successful: Using RCurl, one could retrieve device lists, and push notes but would never retrieve the proper JSON response from Pushbullet. I consulted with some of the RCurl experts (shoutout to Jeff G, Hadley W, and Duncan TL) but without resolution.

So this is a simpler reboot. We simply call the curl binary, and retrieve the JSON response.


A file ~/.rpushbullet.json can be used to pass the API key and device identifiers to the package. The content is read upon package startup, and stored in a package-local environment. The format of this file is as follows:

    "key": "...placey your api key here...",

    "devices": [ 
        ".....device 1 id......",
        ".....device 2 id......",
        ".....device 3 id......"

    "names": [

    "defaultdevice": "...nameOfYourDefault..."

The names and defaultdevice fields are optional. See the main package help page for more details.

You can also create the file programmatically via

cat(RJSONIO::toJSON(list(key="..key here..", devices=c("..aa..", "..bb.."))))

and write that content to the file ~/.rpushbullet.json.

You can also retrieve the ids of your devices with the pbGetDevices() function by calling, say, str(fromJSON(pbGetDevices())). Note that you need to load one of the packages RJSONIO or rjson or jsonlite to access the fromJSON() function.


Pushbullet has recently added channels to their API. These are notification feeds that user can subscribe to, and which allows the developer to create (per-topic) channels for various applications / topics that her users can subscribe to.

Creating a channel is easy: one simply needs to login and visit the My Channel page. From there, one can easily create a new channel by clicking the "add channel" button. There will be a prompt to enter a 'tag', a channel name, as well as a description. The channel_tag is what is needed to push posts to the channel. Currently, only the owner of a channel has permissions to post to that channel, so one will need to create the channel using the same login one has specified in ~/.rpushbullet.json in order to use RPushbullet to post to a channel.

Channels are public: Anyone who knows the channel 'tag' can subscribe and will therefore receive all messages pushed to that channel. Some users create hard-to-guess channel tags to achieve semi privacy. This works because it is, currently as of February 2015, neither possible to list the channels owned by a specific user nor possible to browse or search for other users' channels. One method to generate a hard-to-guess tag is digest::digest(rnorm(1)).

Channels can be used by passing a channel argument to the pbPost function. The Pushbullet API identifies a channel via the supplied channel_tag value of this argument. See the Pushes API documentation for +more information.


Dirk Eddelbuettel


GPL (>= 2)