Windows Task Scheduler: Create an Automated Windows Task Tutorial

Windows Task Scheduler: Create an Automated Windows Task Tutorial. The Windows Task Scheduler is arguably one of the most underutilized Windows tools. One reason for this is its incomprehensibility – especially for non power users. However, once you understand its capabilities, you can use it to make your Windows experience easier. The following guide will show you how to create an automated task using Windows Task Scheduler.

Shall we start on Windows Task Scheduler: Create an Automated Windows Task Tutorial.

What is Windows Task Scheduler?

The Windows Task Scheduler (not to be mistaken with the Task Manager) is a Windows utility that allows you to run specific tasks after a trigger is activated (usually a time trigger). It can help you schedule Windows applications, and scripts (batch/CMD and PowerShell cmdlets), send emails or display a reminder.

For instance, you can set Windows Task Scheduler to create automatic backups. Nevertheless, this is only one example. Task Scheduler also allows you to create complex job scripts. Moreover, you can also dictate when these scripts run and the order. 

Often, business users try to implement low-code/no-code tools or third-party job scheduling applications. However, in most cases, this is unnecessary as Windows Task Scheduler should be sufficient.

Windows and many of its installed applications already use the Windows Task Scheduler. As such, you can use the Windows Task Scheduler to view what jobs automatically run in the background and modify them. For example, Windows uses the Task Scheduler for much of its telemetry functionality i.e., uploading error and usage information.

The Windows Task Scheduler can be hard to find. It sits tucked away in Windows’ Administrative Tolls. With that being said, let us examine how to create an automated windows task using Windows Task Scheduler. However, you will first need to access and run it.

How to Open the Windows Task Scheduler

This section of the guide will show you how to launch Windows Task Scheduler. There are several ways to do this. The examples in this section primarily use Windows 10. However, you can adapt them to previous and later versions of Microsoft’s flagship operating system. Nevertheless, one of the most common ways to run the Task Scheduler is using Windows Control Panel.

Using Windows Control Panel

  • Launch Control Panel.
  • View the items as either large or small icons.
  • Click on Administrative Tools.
  • It is recommended that you order the items by name in ascending order. You will find the Task Scheduler as the third last item on the list.

Using the Start Menu

  • Open the Start Menu (⊞).
  • Next, scroll down through your apps until you find Windows Administrative Tools.
  • Click on the Windows Administrative Tools.
  • Finally, scroll through the list until you find the Task Scheduler. Again, this should be the third item from the bottom of the list.

Alternatively, you can use the Windows Start Menu’s search function. All you have to do is open the Start Menu and type Task Scheduler. The Windows Task Scheduler should be the first result.

Using Windows Run

This is the easiest and quickest way to open the Windows Task Scheduler. Furthermore, it will work on most versions of the Windows operating system.

  • Open the Windows Run Dialog (⊞ + R).
  • Type msc.
  • Click on the OK button.

Alternatively, you can run the command control admintools. It will open the Windows Control Panel’s Administrative Tools section. Once again, you can scroll through the list of items and run the Task Scheduler.

Using the Command Prompt

Although the following tutorial uses Windows Command Prompt, you can use Windows PowerShell instead.

Once more, you can use Command Prompt to launch the Control Panel’s Administrative Tools by typing the control admintools command.

At this point of the article with Windows Task Scheduler it is time to create automated Windows task.

How to Create an Automated Windows Task

Well at this point of Windows Task Scheduler: How to Create an Automated Windows Task Tutorial. Now that you know what the Task Scheduler’s purpose is and how to run it, you can now learn how to use it to create an automatic job. This tutorial will keep it simple. You will learn how to create a basic task that launches the Windows Disk Cleanup application weekly.

Setting up a Basic Task

  • Launch Task Scheduler.
  • Click on the Action menu item.
  • Next, select Create Basic Task. The Task Scheduler should launch the Create Basic Task Wizard if you have followed these steps correctly.
Create a Baic Task with WIndows Task Schedular

Naming The Task

  • Enter a name for your task in the Name text field. You can call it Weekly Disk Clean Up.
  • Next, enter a description in the Description text area for your task. We recommend something similar to “An automated weekly task that runs the Windows Disk Clean Up application”.
  • Click on the button labeled Next >. The next screen will ask you to set up a Task Trigger.

Selecting and Configuring a Trigger for the Task

  • Next, click on the radio button labeled Weekly.
  • Once again, click on the button marked Next >. The next screen will allow you to configure your weekly trigger.
  • Set the start date and time for your task. The Task Scheduler will use the current date and time as the default.
  • Next, select how often you want the task repeated. For instance, would you want the task to be triggered every single week or every two weeks? By default, it will be set to repeat every week. Again, it is recommended that you leave it as is.
  • Select which date(s) you would like the task to run. This example will use Sunday.
  • Once more, click on the Next > button. The next screen will ask you to choose an action.

Finalizing the Task

  • Make sure that the Start a program radio button is selected. If you are still using an older version of Windows, you’ll notice that it deprecated both the Send an email and Display a message radio buttons. Essentially, this means they are obsolete and Microsoft will soon fade them out.
  • Click on the Next > The next screen will ask you to select a program to launch.
  • Since you will be launching the Disk Cleanup program, you can type the address C:\Windows\System32\cleanmgr.exe into the Program/script Alternatively, you can click on the Browse button and use the displayed dialog to find the application manually.
  • You can leave the other fields blank.
  • Click on the Next > button. The Task Wizard will take you to the final screen. This will allow you to review the settings for your automated task.
  • Tick the checkbox labeled Open the Properties dialog for this task when I click Finish.
  • Finally, click on the Finish button.
Windows Task Scheduler Finish Screen

If you have followed the above steps correctly, the Task Scheduler will create your task and launch a dialog containing its properties. You can use this dialog to modify and amend your automated task. Once you are satisfied with the properties, you can click on the OK button.

Windows Task Scheduler: Create an Automated Windows Task Tutorial Conclusion

The above guide shows you how to create an automated Windows task using Windows Task Scheduler. It should serve as a basic primer. Once you are confident enough, you can create more complex tasks, import external tasks, view all running tasks, etc. You should explore these features and options at your discretion. However, in most cases, you will not be able to create any system breaking tasks. Nevertheless, if you have any questions, queries, or corrections, please leave them in the comment section below. As always, thank you for reading.  

Avatar for Mduduzi Sibisi
Mduduzi Sibisi

Mdu is an Oracle-certified software developer and IT specialist, primarily focused on Object-Oriented programming for Microsoft and Linux-based operating systems. He has over a decade of experience and endeavors to share what he's learned from his time in the industry. He moonlights as a tech writer and has produced content for a plethora of established websites and publications - including this one. He's always open to learning and growing.

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