How to Create a New Task in Windows 7 and Vista

By Dan Gookin

A task is simply something that the computer does. You create a task by using one of two options in the Actions part of the Task Scheduler window: Create Basic Task or Create Task.

The Create Basic Task option lets you set up a new task quickly, especially when you’re just starting out. You don’t miss anything by choosing this option: Simply work your way through the wizard and answer the questions. As long as you know what you want the computer to do, and how often you need it done, the Create Basic Task Wizard works well.

At the final step, shown by the word Finish highlighted on the left side of the window, you can place a check mark by the option Open the Properties Dialog for This Task When I Click Finish. When you remember to do that, you’ll see the task’s Properties dialog box.

A task's properties dialog box.

The Create Task option, also found in the Actions part of the window, basically just starts the process with a dialog box that contains all the options and settings. There’s no walk-through, as there is with the Create Basic Task option, unless you just work through the tabs from right to left.

The key to setting up a task is scheduling when the task takes place, which is the trigger. Tasks can happen at a certain time, an interval of time, or an event, such as starting Windows or logging in to the PC.

The intervals can be daily, weekly, or monthly and then refined to take place at a specific time, day, or week, or to even repeat. You can also schedule a task to take place when the computer starts, when you log in to Windows, or after another task has run or an event has taken place.

The final element is what the task does: the action. You can create only three types of tasks:

Run a program. You choose a program to run or to open a file. Windows lets you find the program, but to run some utilities, you must specify command line options, which are both confusing and difficult to discover.

Send an email message. You can send a message you compose to any email recipient. The message can contain an attachment, or it can be just text. The message content is static, however; you merely schedule when the message is being sent.

Display a message. A dialog box appears at whatever time or after whatever event you specify.

Dialog box that reminds you you've scheduled a task.

You’re not limited to doing only one of these tasks at a time. It’s possible to stack tasks so that one executes after the other. For example, you can run a program and then send an email to confirm that the program has run.