The Task Scheduler allows you to create all kinds of automated tasks in Windows. You can schedule a program to run at a specific time interval, a message to be displayed when something happens and so on. You can do just about anything with it. The only limit is your imagination. To get you started, we created this guide on how to use the basic task wizard in the Task Scheduler. Here's how it works:
Where to Find the Task Scheduler in Windows 7
One method is to go to "Start Menu -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System tools -> Task Scheduler".
Another option is to type the word schedule in the Start Menu search box and click the Task Scheduler search result.
Last but not least, you can go to "Control Panel -> System and Security -> Administrative Tools -> Task Scheduler". This method works also in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.
Where to Find the Task Scheduler in Windows 8 & 8.1
In Windows 8, search is the fastest way to start just about anything. The problem is that you must perform the search using the word schedule. If you type task or some other word, you won't get the appropriate search results. Then, filter the results by Settings and click or tap "Schedule tasks".
In Windows 8.1, search for the word schedule and click or tap "Schedule tasks".
In both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, you can also go to "Control Panel -> System and Security -> Administrative Tools -> Task Scheduler".
The Task Scheduler window is now opened.
Except for some minor differences, this tool works the same in all recent versions of Windows.
How to Start The Create a Basic Task Wizard
In the Task Scheduler window, go to the Actions column on the right. There, click "Create Basic Task" to open the "Create Basic Task Wizard".
As the name implies, this wizard allows anyone to create basic tasks that are executed by Windows, at a given time or when a certain condition is met.
Let's assume you want to create a task that runs the Disk Cleanup tool at a certain point in time and see how you start creating this task:
In the first step of the wizard, you are required to enter a name for your task and a description. When done, click or tap Next.
Next, you have to choose when the task will start.
How to Choose When Your Task is Executed
You have plenty of options for setting when the task will run: every day, week, month, only one time, when the computer starts, when you log on or when a specific event occurs. This is called the task's trigger or what needs to happen in order for the task to run.
Pick the desired option and press Next.
Then, you are asked to be more specific about when the task will run, depending on the option you have chosen previously.
For example, if I want my task to occur every Wednesday at 1:27 AM, I will choose Weekly and make the following configuration:
- Set as starting date and time next Wednesday at 1:27 AM;
- In the Recur every box I will put 1;
- Choose the day of the week as Wednesday.
If you choose your task to be executed Monthly, apart from the starting date and time, you have to choose the month when the task is executed. You can select several specific months, all the months in a year or just one month, by clicking the Months drop-down box.
Then you have to pick the day(s) of the month by selecting Days and clicking its drop-down list.
Or, you can go for a specific day of a certain week. For that, click or tap the On option and, from the first drop-down list, choose the number of the week and, from the second drop-down list, pick the day of the week.
Here you can go wild with your definitions and, for example, you can have a task run in the first and last days of Monday and Thursday of certain months.
After you have set when exactly the task will occur, click or tap Next.
How to Set what Action to Execute
The next step is to indicate the action to take: start a program, send an e-mail or display a message. Here you will find an important difference between Windows 7 and Windows 8 or 8.1. There are three options available in all versions (Start a program, Send an e-mail, Display a message) but the last two are highlighted as deprecated in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.
What does this mean? Well, you can follow the wizard and create a tasks that sends an e-mail or displays a message but, just before the task is saved, an error message is displayed, stating that "The task definition uses a deprecated feature"
Basically, in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 you cannot create tasks that send an e-mail or display a message even though the wizard displays these options. Such tasks can be created only in Windows 7.
But, let's continue the tutorial and share how to set the action that will be executed by your tasks:
If you want to run a program like Disk Cleanup, select "Start a program" and click or tap Next.
Click or tap Browse, select the program or the script you want to run and the press Open.
You can add arguments and set the folder where the program/script starts in. When done, press Next.
Then, you are shown a summary of the task and the settings you have made. Click or tap the Back button if you want to change anything or the Finish button if you want to save the task and have it run.
Let's see how the "Send an e-mail" action is set:
After selecting this action and pressing Next, you are asked to enter the complete details of your message: the sender, the receiver, the subject of the email and the text. You can also attach a file. The last and most important step is providing the address of the SMTP server that will send the message. You should use the SMTP server of the email address you specified in the From field. However, the trouble is that most SMTP servers require authentication before sending anything, to prevent all kinds of abuses and problems. The Create Basic Task Wizard has no fields for providing the necessary authentication details. Therefore, the sending of the email is very likely to fail. It will work only if the SMTP server doesn't require authentication in order to send an e-mail message.
If you choose the task action to be "Display a message", you are asked to write the title of the message and the text that you want to be shown.
When done, click or tap Next and then Finish.
As you can see, creating a basic task using the Task Scheduler wizard is not very complicated. The wizard allows you to make a wide range of settings about the task's triggers and actions. If you would like more advanced guides about the Task Scheduler, don't hesitate to read the articles recommended below.