Understanding the Task Scheduler

by Barry Dysert
(last updated May 18, 2015)

The Windows Task Scheduler is a tool that allows you to have tasks automatically execute at certain times or when certain events occur. For example, you could use the Task Scheduler to synchronize certain folders every day at 2:00 a.m. Or you could set it up to run a program every hour on the hour. You can even have the Task Scheduler send an e-mail every time a certain user logs in. You can have multiple tasks set up to run at various times and under various conditions.

To launch the Task Scheduler, go to Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Task Scheduler. Windows displays the Task Scheduler dialog box. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Task Scheduler dialog box.

This window allows you to check the status of tasks, create tasks, display running tasks, etc. For example, I have a task named "Copy EXEs". To check on its status I click the plus sign next to that task's name and I am presented with details about the task's history. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Checking a task's status.

Here we see that the last time the task ran it finished successfully. Its last run started on 11/27/2012 at 2:00:00 a.m. and ended four seconds later. It was caused to run (i.e., it was triggered) by a time schedule (versus some system event).

To see additional details about a task, click on the Task Scheduler Library option at the left side of the Task Scheduler dialog box. This causes the middle pane to change so that we can look in more detail at the task. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. Getting more detail about a scheduled task.

This view tells us that the task is ready to run again and that it will commence at 2:00 a.m. every day. Note the tabs below the upper screen. By clicking these tabs you're able to see what triggers (causes) the task to start, what actions it will perform, the conditions under which the task runs, various settings that are in effect when the task runs, and the task's history.

 This tip (12441) applies to Windows 7.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 30 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer.  He is currently a senior software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. ...

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