With this article I will start a small series about the Task Scheduler tool. First, I will present what Task Scheduler is and what it is capable of doing. I will also show how to navigate the interface of the program in order to read and understand information connected to an existing task. In future articles I will show how to do all possible tasks with Task Scheduler. Click on Read more to check out the basics about this tool.
Defining the Task Scheduler
Task Scheduler allows you to schedule automated tasks that perform actions at a specific time or when a certain event occurs. The application allows you to navigate between the tasks defined by you or the operating system with the use of a library for all scheduled tasks. A large number of details about each task is available, giving all the information you need to manage them. The Task Scheduler Library gives you the possibility to run, disable, modify and delete tasks.
For a better understanding of how Task Scheduler works, you must be familiar with two terms: triggers and actions. A trigger is the cause/event which can make a task to run. The computer starting up or entering an idle state, the user log on - all these are possible triggers. An action is the work performed when the task is triggered. Different actions can be done: running a program, sending an e-mail or displaying a message, etc. For example, you can schedule a disk cleanup every week, you can send an e-mail each time an event occurs, etc. Both triggers and actions can be defined by you and the possible combinations are endless.
Where to Find the Task Scheduler
Now that you know what Task Scheduler is, here is where you find it: go to 'Start Menu -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System tools -> Task Scheduler'.
Another way of finding it, is to type task in the Start Menu's search bar and, under Programs, choose Task Scheduler.
Once you open Task Scheduler you will see three panels:
- Task Scheduler Library - helps you navigate among all the tasks;
- Task Scheduler Summary - shows information about most recent tasks;
- Actions - allows you create, import or delete a task, to run, disable, enable and set properties to a specific task.
All three are shown in the screenshot below.
In this article I will present in detail the Task Scheduler Library and Task Scheduler Summary. The Actions panel will be covered in separate tutorials since it offers a lot of options which cannot be covered in just one article.
Understanding the Task Scheduler Summary
In the 'Task Status' pane, you can see the list of all the tasks that have started in a specific time period and their status. Click on the drop-down box from the right side of the pane to select the time period: 'Last hour', 'Last 24 hours', 'Last 7 days' or 'Last 30 days'. The default value is 'Last 24 hours'.
Click on the + sign in the left part of a tasks' name to see the list of run times for the period you specified.
For each run time you can see 'Run Result' (running, succeeded, stopped or failed), 'Run Start' and 'Run End' date and time, plus the 'Triggered By' event.
In the 'Active Tasks' pane, you can see the list of tasks that are currently enabled and haven't expired. For each tasks you can see its name, 'Next Run Time' specified by date and time, the Triggers and Location.
Click on the Refresh button in the bottom of the screen, to update 'Tasks Scheduler Summary'.
Working With the Task Scheduler Library
In the left-hand side of the Task Scheduler window, you can see 'Task Scheduler Library'. Click on the arrow to see its contents.
Click on a folder's name to see the tasks defined inside it.
The top table contains the list of tasks. For each task you can see its Name, Status, Triggers, the 'Next Run Time' and 'Last Run Time' date and time, 'Last Run Result', Author and Created date and time.
Click on one of the tasks to see more information about it.
The General tab shows information on name, location, author, a short description and some security options like: the account for which to run the task, when to run the task depending on the user being logged in or not, if the task is hidden, etc. You cannot modify any of these data as they are read-only.
Click on the Triggers tab to see the list of conditions that trigger the tasks with details on each trigger and the status of the trigger - enabled or disabled, if available.
The 3rd tab, called Actions, you see the action that will occur when the task starts and details about it. For example, if the action is 'Start a program' in the Details column you will see the program that has to start.
In the Conditions tab you can see all the conditions that must be true, along with the trigger, in order to run the task. The conditions are connected to whether the computer is in idle mode or not, the type of the power - AC or battery - and the network.
You can see additional information in the Settings tab.
The History tab offers the list of all the events of the selected task, with different facts on it, like level, date and time, event id, task category and others.
Select one of the events to see even more system-related information on it.
As you can see, Task Scheduler is a complex program. In this first tutorial I presented general information about this application and I showed how you can view different tasks and find more facts about them. Stay tuned for the future articles in which I will show how to do different actions like: creating, importing or deleting a task, how to run, end, disable a task or change its properties.
How To Create a Task With the Basic Task Wizard
Advanced Users - Task Creation With Task Scheduler
How to Manage Existing Tasks in Task Scheduler
Use the Task Scheduler to Launch Programs Without UAC Prompts
Wake the Computer to Run a Microsoft Security Essentials Scan