How to Create a Task in Windows XP Scheduled Tasks - dummies

How to Create a Task in Windows XP Scheduled Tasks

By Dan Gookin

Not all computer maintenance is automated in Windows XP. As a prime example, consider the Defrag utility. You should run this tool often to keep the hard drive performing at top efficiency. Yet Windows doesn’t automatically run Defrag by itself. Instead, you must automate the process by creating a new task. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Scheduled Tasks window.

    From the Start button menu, choose All Programs→Accessories→System Tools→Scheduled Tasks.


  2. Open the Add Scheduled Task icon.

    The Scheduled Task wizard appears.

  3. Click the Next button.

    Windows presents a list of scrolling programs, along with a Browse button. You can choose a program from the list, but the Defrag program didn’t make the cut. You have to use the Browse button to locate Defrag.

  4. Choose the program to run and click the Next button, or click the Browse button to locate the program.

    In the example of creating a Defrag task, click the Browse button and then follow these sub-steps:

    1. From the Address bar in the Select Program to Schedule window, choose drive C.

    2. Open the Windows folder.

    3. Open the System32 folder.

    4. Click to select the defrag.exe program.

      The program might be called defrag or defrag.exe, depending on whether you configured Windows to display filename extensions.

    5. Click the Open button.

  5. Type a name for the task.

    The program name is probably set up already in the wizard. You can keep it or type something else.

  6. Choose the task trigger.

    The trigger is either a time interval — Daily, Weekly, Monthly — or a one-time event, such as Once, When My Computer Starts, or When I Log In.

    For the Defrag task, choose Weekly.

  7. Click the Next button.

  8. Refine the run time if prompted.

    For a weekly task, the next screen lets you choose the days of the week, start time, and repeat interval.

    For a daily task, you can choose when to run the task, as well as how often a day to run it. Monthly tasks have similar options.

    The One Time Only option lets you set only the day and time for the task to run.

    The other two triggers, When My Computer Starts and When I Log In, are preset to run the task only at those times.

  9. Click the Next button.

    Your user account name is specified in the Enter User Name box. That’s because all tasks in Windows must be assigned to a user.

    Because your account will be running the task, you need to specify your account password.

  10. Type your Windows account password in the Enter the Password text box.

  11. Type your password again, in the Confirm Password text box.

  12. Click the Next button.

    A summary screen lists information about the task.

  13. Place a check mark in the box labeled Open advanced properties for this task when I click Finish.

    The defrag task dialog box appears.

  14. Edit the Run box to include the disk drive to defragment.

    It should read: C:WINDOWSTasksdefrag.job.


  15. Click the Finish button.

    And the task is created.

The task exists as an icon in the Scheduled Tasks window. But more important, the task exists in the computer’s brain. Every Monday, the Defrag program will run, defragmenting your PC’s hard drives automatically. That’s the reason behind setting up the task and how tasks help automate maintenance on your PC.

Tasks don’t run when the computer is turned off. Ensure that you schedule your PC’s tasks to run when the computer is on.