How To Automate and Schedule Tasks In Windows

Scheduling a task in Windows is very easy. Microsoft has included a very handy tool in Windows, known as Task Scheduler, that allows you to add and automate tasks. If that is not to your liking, you can also use a third party software, like Shutter, to get the job done. In this article, we will show you how you can schedule and automate tasks with both the inbuilt task scheduler and Shutter.

To quickly open task scheduler in Windows, go to “Run -> taskschd.msc”. Windows 8 organizes scheduled tasks in a folder tree. You can click on each folder to display the scheduled tasks.

Task Scheduler interface is divided into three panes. The leftmost pane is the folder tree of scheduled tasks. The middle pane opens the tasks selected in the folder tree. The rightmost pane is the actions pane from where we can create new scheduled tasks.

schedule tasks in windows with task scheduler

To create a new task, you just have to click the “Create basic task” button. This will launch a wizard which guides you through the command building process.

1. Fill in the name and description fields in the task wizard

create basic task with task scheduler

2. Select a trigger to activate the task. This can be a specific event or a recursive timed event.

select the trigger to activate task in task scheduler

3. In the next screen, you will be asked to specify the task to perform when the trigger is activated. You can either start a program, send an email or display a message

select the action to perform when the trigger is activated in Task Scheduler

4. If you select “Start a program”, you will be prompted to select the application and add any argument, if required.

select the program to start in Task Scheduler

For more advanced options, click the checkbox “Open the properties dialog for this task when I click Finish”, and click “Finish”.

Open Properties dialog in Task Scheduler

Here you will be able to add more triggers and actions and more advanced settings.

Advanced settings in Task Scheduler

For more reasons, Microsoft didn’t make the Task Scheduler an easier app to use. If you are looking for a simpler application with more configuration options, you can use Shutter, which is a free and portable Windows app for creating scheduled tasks.

Shutter comes with a simple user interface. It has only one main screen. All configurations are made on the main screen. There are two fields, one for adding events and one for adding actions. You can select whether all events need to be fulfilled or any one of them will trigger the actions. The conditions include ALL, AND, OR and 1 BY 1.

schedule tasks in Windows with shutter

To add an event, click on “Click here to add event”. This will open a new dialog where you can select from different events.

select CPU usage as Events in Shutter

Each event has its own options which will be displayed when the event is selected.

Add event in Shutter

While Windows task scheduler supports only three event types, Shutter has a lot of supported event types:

  • Countdown
  • On time
  • Winamp Stops
  • CPU Usage
  • Network Usage
  • User Inactive
  • Battery Low
  • Window
  • Process
  • Ping Stops
  • File Size Limit
  • Lid

You can add multiple events for triggering single or multiple tasks.

To add an action click on “Click here to add action”. The following actions are supported by Shutter:

  • Shutdown
  • Reboot
  • Logoff
  • Lock Workstation
  • Sleep
  • Hibernate
  • Turn Off Monitor
  • Screen Saver
  • Volume
  • Hang Up
  • Alarm
  • Message
  • Play Sound
  • Run Program
  • Open File
  • Close Window
  • Kill Process
  • Utilities

Each action has its own options.

Add tasks options in Shutter

The “Start” button will start the scheduled task and the “Now” button will tell you the current situation of the task.

Shutter Nnow

The good thing about Shutter is that you can save and import scheduled tasks for running them across multiple computers.

Windows Task Scheduler can be useful for basic tasks, but somehow, Microsoft didn’t make it particularly easy to use. Shutter is a wonderful program which comes with plenty of scheduling options for the user. If you prefer a simple and portable software, Shutter is the one for you.

Do you schedule tasks in Windows? Will you prefer Shutter over the inbuilt task scheduler app?