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Scheduled Tasks

Run a program or script at a specified time.

To Open

Control Panel [Performance and Maintenance] Scheduled Tasks

Start Programs Accessories System Tools Scheduled Tasks


The Scheduled Tasks feature is fairly simple, allowing you to schedule any program or WSH script (see Chapter 8) to run at a specified time or interval (see Figure 4-79).

Figure 4-79. Scheduled Tasks lets you run programs at predetermined times or intervals

To create a new scheduled task, open the Scheduled Tasks folder and double-click Add Scheduled Task to start the Scheduled Task Wizard. You'll then be prompted to choose a program and specify when and how often to run it.

Unfortunately, there's no way to skip the cumbersome wizard, but you can repeatedly click Next until you reach the last page, where you'll see an option to open "advanced properties for this task." The Properties window, also accessible by right-clicking on any existing task and selecting Properties, is a simpler and more straightforward way to configure a task (see Figure 4-80).

The Task tab allows you to specify the command line, the full path and filename of the application, or the script to run. You can also choose the default folder and the user under which to run the program (see Run As, earlier in this chapter).

The Schedule tab lets you choose when and how often to execute the task. Choose the Show multiple schedules option to allow more flexibility, such as running a task at 3:01 PM next Thursday only and every Saturday morning at 10:43.

Figure 4-80. The Properties dialog for this task lets you choose when a task is run

Finally, the Settings tab allows you to set various preferences, many of which can be important and none of which are set by the wizard. For example, you can have Scheduled Tasks delete the task after it has run, stop the task if it appears to have crashed, or run the task only if the computer isn't currently being used. Note that, by default, tasks won't be run if your computer is running on batteries, a setting you may want to change if you need the task performed regardless of your computer's power source.

In the main Scheduled Tasks window, use Advanced Stop Using Task Scheduler to disable the Schedule Tasks service; use Advanced Start Using Task Scheduler to enable it again. The service remains stopped (or started) even when the computer is restarted. To temporarily disable the service or have it restart when the computer is restarted, use Advanced Pause Task Scheduler/Continue Task Scheduler.


  • The logging option is limited and only tells you if a given task was started. It can be hard to tell whether a scheduled task has actually been performed successfully unless you specifically implement logging in a script.

  • Also, any scheduled tasks will not be performed if you've selected the Stop Using Task Scheduler option, if your computer is turned off, if Windows isn't running, or if your portable computer is running off its battery. These mistakes may be obvious but they can be easy to forget and Windows won't tell you if you missed any tasks.

  • Unlike previous versions of Windows, there's no icon in the tray to tell you that Task Scheduler is working.

  • The At utility, discussed earlier in this chapter, and the Scheduled Tasks Console, discussed later in this chapter, both allow you to create new tasks from the command line.

See Also

At, Scheduled Tasks Console

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