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Using the Task Scheduler

The Task Scheduler in Windows 10 is, in many ways, very similar to that found in older versions of the OS. However; in Windows 10, Battery Saver Mode can impact on how it operates (if using a laptop). This guide looks at how the new scheduler works and how we can modify its use.

Scheduling New Tasks

The Task Scheduler can be a very powerful tool for increasing automation in Windows 10. Let's take a quick look at exactly how to use the Windows 10 Task Scheduler in normal day-to-day PC operation.

  1. Search for "Task Scheduler" in the Cortana search pane or navigate to it in Start menu → All Apps → Windows Administrative Tools → Task Scheduler. The simple scheduler window will now open. This is split into three sections: Scheduler Library, Scheduler Summary and Actions.
  2. You have three main options for adding new tasks to the schedule: Create Basic Task, Create Task and Import Task. For now we will stick to create a Basic Task. You can start the process by clicking in the Action panel or using the Action menu in the menu bar of the window.
  3. The Basic Task wizard will now open. Give your task a name and description (optional) and click Next. You now need to choose the trigger. This can be set to happen daily, weekly or monthly, to happen just once. You can choose starting or logging on to your PC as a trigger also.
  4. If you choose daily, weekly, etc. you will need to set further time options when you click Next. If you chose the final trigger option, When a specific event is logged, you will see a set of drop down menus. Here you can choose the event log, source and give the event an ID.
  5. For now let's stick to a timed trigger. Choose Weekly and click Next. Use the various boxes to choose when the task starts and how it should recur from then on. Click Next to continue. You now need to choose the Action being triggered by your choices in the previous steps.
  6. The main action is Start a Program or app but you can also choose to send an email or display a message. If you choose to send an email, you will then need to complete things like recipient address and the message itself. If you choose to display a message, you will need to write it.
  7. For this guide, we will look at starting a program. You can now type :he name of the program or script in the Program/Script field. If you prefer you can click Browse and search through available programs to find the one you want to start. You are looking for .exe (executable) files here.
  8. You can also add optional arguments, which some programs support. For example you can specify the /AUTO argument with CCIeanerto automatically run CCIeaner on a schedule. The exact arguments supported will differ between programs and if you're not sure, it is best to check.
  9. Get creative. Task Scheduler doesn't just need to be used to run CCleaner or Defrag. If you use a specific program on a regular basis, you can use the Task Scheduler wizard to create a task that opens the program for you automatically according to the schedule you choose.
  10. You can now review the completed task creation by clicking Finish once. If you are happy with all of the settings, etc. click Finish again. If you want to change anything, use the Back button to navigate to the relevant section. You can also choose to open the Properties after finishing.

Task Scheduler in Windows 10

Although the method of creating and managing tasks manually is the same in Windows 10 as it was in 7 and XP, if you are using a portable device, the way the OS prioritises tasks has changed. This change is due to the new Battery Saver mode, which is able to postpone certain tasks if they meet certain criteria.

If Windows 10 detects that the user isn't using their computer, it considers the system idle. This means that some scheduled processes won't execute. For example, disk optimisation runs at set intervals when the computer idles. However, when operating on battery power, running disk optimisation on a spin-up Hard Disk Drive (HDD) could negatively affect your system's uptime.

Modifying or Deleting Tasks

You may want to modify existing Windows 10 tasks or even delete them altogether. This should always be done with care and research beforehand.

  1. If you are looking to modify or disable any scheduled task, open the Task Scheduler. You can just type "Task Scheduler" into Windows Search and it should show up in the results. If you are creating or modifying a lot of tasks, it might be worth pinning the Task Manager to the Start menu.
  2. Looking at the left-hand panel in the Task Scheduler will allow you to see all of the existing scheduled tasks (Task Scheduler Library). Click on the folder and the tasks will be displayed in the middle panel. You can dig down further into the folder structure using the arrow toggles.
  3. For example, click on the left facing arrow for Microsoft. Then click on the left facing arrow for Windows. From the list of entries that appear, find the Defrag option and click on it. In the centre panel, double-click on ScheduleDefrag. This will open a new properties pane.
  4. The properties pane shows the triggers and conditions that control the Defrag utility's behaviour. If you wan: the process to run regardless of Battery Saver, youll need to make sure that none of the triggers are idle state, or are part of auto maintenance. They must run though when logged out.

Turn OffTask Scheduler

Although there is no simple switch to turn off individual tasks or to turn off the Task Scheduler as a whole, you can disable it in another way.

  1. To turn off or disable the Task Scheduler temporarily whilst in Battery Saver Mode, as turning it off all the time could adversely affect performance, you need to open the Task Manager. You can search for this using the Cortana search field or by looking in Start menu → All Apps.
  2. You can also open the Task Manager by pressing the key combination Ctrl + Shift + Esc. Next locate the entry for Service Host: Local System (followed by a number) on the processes tab and click on the left facing arrow to show the full list of processes inside.
  3. You should see the Task Scheduler in this list. Right-click on the entry and choose Disable from the contextual menu. To re-enable it, simply right-click and choose Enable from the contextual menu. Remember to turn this service back on after leaving Battery Saver Mode.
  4. The Task Scheduler offers much more than optimized battery performance. It can automate boring processes, including suspend and sleep. For anyone looking to shave a few precious minutes off their work routine, the Task Scheduler is a must have tool.