While you might be familiar with Task Scheduler, you might not know of all the useful tasks to schedule with Task Scheduler. You’re likely to have your own set of preferred tasks, but if you’re just getting started and want to see Windows automation in action, start with tasks that benefit most users. Schedule all these or just a few, depending on how much you want to automate your Windows experience.
How to Use Task Scheduler
Before diving into the tasks you may want to schedule, it’s important to understand the basics of automating and scheduling tasks. Remember, you can create both basic and complex tasks. Just make sure you test each new task to ensure it runs properly.
1. Set a Reminder
While there are other methods to set a reminder, Task Scheduler works well for this purpose, even though Microsoft deprecated the “display a message” action.
- Open Notepad and enter the following:
@echo off title NameofReminder echo ReminderMessage pause
Replace “NameofReminder” with a name for your reminder and “ReminderMessage” with the actual reminder text.
- Save the file with any name you want and the extension .cmd.
- Open Task Scheduler via the Start Menu or an alternative method.
- Select “Create Task.”
- Under the “General” tab, enter a name for your reminder task and choose “Windows 10” in the “Configure for” drop-down box. There isn’t a Windows 11 option yet. For Windows 11, just choose “Windows 10.”
- Under the “Triggers” tab, select “New.”
- Set when you want to begin the task. If it’s on a schedule, set a time and how often the task should repeat.
- Press “OK” to save your settings.
- Select the “Actions” tab and click “New” to create a new action.
- Select “Start a program” under “Action” and press “Browse” to navigate to the Notepad file you saved earlier.
- Once set, you’ll get a reminder via the Command Prompt at your chosen time/trigger, like this.
This can work well for a daily to-do list reminder. You can set up a reminder for other users on the same PC by switching users in the “General” tab.
2. Set Up Restore Points
Windows 11 doesn’t create system restore points as often as previous Windows versions. But, if you want to create restore points automatically on a set schedule, use Task Scheduler.
- Open Task Scheduler and expand “Task Scheduler Library -> Microsoft -> Windows -> System Restore.”
- Select the “System Restore” folder to display the System Restore task that already exists.
- Right-click the existing task and select “Properties.”
- Under the “Triggers” tab, select “New,” then set your desired schedule. To avoid filling your hard drive with numerous System Restore points, only schedule this to happen weekly. If you make many system changes daily, you may prefer a daily restore point.
If you ever need to remove excess restore points, open Start and search for “Recovery.” Select the “Recovery (Control Panel)” option. Then, select “Configure System Restore” and click “Configure.”
Press “Delete” to delete all existing restore points. You’ll definitely want to create another soon to replace what you’ve deleted.
3. Restart, Shut Down, or Hibernate Your PC
It’s not uncommon to leave your PC running, but it’s healthy to at least restart it regularly to refresh your system. One of the most useful tasks to schedule with Task Scheduler is an automatic shutdown, restart, or hibernation (sleep), so you never have to worry about forgetting to do it.
- Create a BAT file in Notepad using one of the following commands:
c:\windows\system32\shutdown -s -f -t 00
Replace the drive letter if Windows isn’t installed on C: drive. This command shuts Windows down after force-closing all open apps. Replace “00” with a time in seconds if you want a slight delay, such as “60” to delay shutdown for 60 seconds.
If you want to restart the computer, use this command:
c:\windows\system32\shutdown -r -t 00
Try this command if you want to put the PC to sleep:
- Save your file with the desired name, such as “Shutdown” or “Restart,” and the .bat extension.
- In Task Scheduler, select “Create Task.” Name your task in the “General” tab and create a “New” trigger under the “Triggers” tab just like you did when setting a reminder.
- Set the schedule to what works best for you. Daily is ideal, but it can also be weekly.
- Under the “Actions” tab, select “New.”
- Choose “Start a program” and browse to your BAT file in the “Program/script” section.
- Press “OK” to save your changes and task.
- Right-click the task and ensure it works properly, after saving all open files first.
4. Open Your Browser and Favorite Sites
Sure, it only takes a few seconds to click your browser’s icon to launch it, but wouldn’t it be nice to automate the process? Not only could you have your browser open automatically at your PC’s startup, but you can also set a task to open specific sites, so you’re ready to sit down and start your day in a few seconds.
- Open Task Scheduler and select “Create task.”
- Give your task a name in the “General” tab. This could be your browser’s name or anything else that’s easy for you to identify in Task Scheduler.
- Select “New” under the “Triggers” tab.
- Decide when to begin the task. If you choose “On a schedule,” set your desired schedule. You can also choose other options, such as “At log on” or “At startup.” Press “OK” to save your settings.
- Under the “Actions tab,” select “New.”
- Choose “Start a program” and then browse to your desired browser’s executable file. If you just want to open your browser, press “OK” to save your changes. If you want to set up sites to open, continue to the next step.
- Enter the URLs of the sites you want to open in the “Add arguments” box. Separate each site with a space.
- Press “OK” on each open window to save your changes. Right-click the task and select “Run” if you want to test it.
5. Open Apps
You can launch any apps you want just like you opened your browser in the section above. For instance, I like to launch my browser at logon with a few websites I use often and automatically open LibreOffice Writer side by side.
To set up an app to launch automatically, follow the steps you used to open your browser but navigate to the executable file for your desired app.
You can add multiple actions for a task. So, you could create a “Morning Routine” task that has actions for opening your browser, email client, word processor, and anything else you need.
6. Open Files
Opening apps is useful enough, but you might find it even more helpful to open specific files. Some users even use this task to generate reports if they have macros enabled to run automatically in Excel, Word, or other apps. I like to open up my spreadsheet with all current projects, accounting details, and notes.
- Open Task Scheduler and create a new task.
- Name your task in the “General” tab. Always choose the correct version of Windows under “Configure for.”
- Under “Triggers,” create a new trigger. You can set the trigger for a specific schedule or at startup or logon.
- Under “Actions,” create a new action and browse to your file in the “Program/script” box.
- Save your task by exiting each window by pressing “OK.”
7. Empty Your Recycle Bin
It’s easy to just dump files into the Recycle Bin and never think about them again. But, those files are still on your hard drive and taking up valuable space. If you don’t want to think about them again, use Task Scheduler to automatically empty the Recycle Bin on a schedule. Just remember that once something’s gone out of the Recycle Bin, it’s incredibly difficult to retrieve.
- Open Task Scheduler and create a new task as usual.
- Name the task something related to Recycle Bin or Recycle.
- Under “Triggers,” set the schedule to daily, weekly, or monthly. For most users, weekly or monthly works well.
- Under “Action,” type the following into the “Program/script” box:
- In the “Add arguments” box, enter the following:
-NoProfile -Command "Clear-RecycleBin -Force"
- Save your task as usual.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I limit tasks to specific users?
Yes. In the “General” tab of the “Create Task” dialog, select “Change User or Group” to select the user(s) you want the task to apply to. You can also check the “Run with highest privileges” box to ensure that tasks that need admin rights can run.
Can I edit a task?
Yes. Double-click any task to open it and make any necessary changes. Nothing will save until you press “OK.” Feel free to edit tasks at any time. You can also delete a task you no longer need by right-clicking it and selecting “Delete.”
How can I better organize my tasks?
If you’re creating numerous tasks, you might notice things getting harder to find. To separate your tasks into categories:
- Right-click “Task Scheduler Library” in the Task Scheduler sidebar and choose “New Folder.” Name it anything you want, such as “My Tasks.”
- Right-click any tasks you want to move to this folder and choose “Export.” Save them to an easy-to-access location.
- Open your new folder and select “Import” in the far-right pane. Select your task to import it.
Open your desired folder before selecting “Create task” to skip the export-import process later for new tasks.
Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels.
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