How to Browse the Task Scheduler & Learn More About Existing Tasks

The Task Scheduler is a very complex tool, with lots of columns, buttons and options. In this guide I will share the basics about browsing the library of active tasks, so that you learn more about them, what they do, when they are triggered, etc. This way you can see what kind of tasks are defined by your installed programs or by other users of your Windows PC or device.

NOTE: This guide applies to both Windows 7 and Windows 8.

What is the Task Scheduler

Task Scheduler allows you to schedule automated tasks that perform actions at a specific time or when a certain event occurs. The application allows you to navigate between the tasks defined by you or the operating system with the use of a library for all scheduled tasks. A large number of details about each task are available, giving all the information you need to manage them. The Task Scheduler Library gives you the ability to run, disable, modify and delete tasks.

For a better understanding of how Task Scheduler works, you must be familiar with two terms: triggers and actions. A trigger is the cause/event which can make a task run. The computer starting up or entering an idle state, the user logging on - all these are possible triggers. An action is the work performed when the task is triggered. Different actions can be performed: running a program, sending an email or displaying a message, etc. For example, you can schedule a disk cleanup every week, you can send an email each time an event occurs, etc.

Both triggers and actions can be defined by you and the possible combinations are almost endless.

Opening the Task Scheduler for the First Time

If you would like to know how to start the Task Scheduler, please read this guide: How to Start the Task Scheduler & Use the Basic Task Wizard.

Once you open Task Scheduler you will see three panels:

  1. Task Scheduler Library - helps you navigate among all the tasks;
  2. Task Scheduler Summary - shows information about most recent tasks;
  3. Actions - allows you create, import or delete a task, to run, disable, enable and set properties to a specific task.

All three are shown in the screenshot below.

In this article I will present in detail the Task Scheduler Library and Task Scheduler Summary. The Actions panel will be covered in separate tutorials since it offers a lot of options which cannot be covered in just one article.

How to Use the Task Scheduler Summary

When the Task Scheduler (Local) is selected in the first column, the column in the middle is split into three panes: Overview of Task Scheduler, Task Status and Active Tasks.

The first pane shares a bit of information on what you can do with the Task Scheduler.

The Task Status pane shares the list of tasks that have started in the last 24 hours and their status.

Click or tap the drop-down list on the right side of the pane to select a different time period: Last hour, Last 24 hours, Last 7 days or Last 30 days. The default value is Last 24 hours.

If any tasks are listed, click or tap the + sign near a task's name to see more details about it: the run result, when it started, when it ended and what triggered it.

In the Active Tasks pane, you have the list of tasks that are currently enabled and have not expired. For each task you can see its name, Next Run Time specified by date and time, the Triggers and Location.

If you want to update the data displayed in the Task Scheduler Summary, click or tap the Refresh button on the bottom.

How to Use the Task Scheduler Library

On the left-hand side of the Task Scheduler window, there is the Task Scheduler Library. Click or tap the arrow to see its contents, or simply double click on Task Scheduler Library.

Click or tap a folder's name to see the tasks found inside and its subfolders. The tasks belonging to any folder or subfolder are displayed in the second column - the one in the middle of the Task Scheduler window.

For each task you can see its Name, Status, Triggers, the Next Run Time and Last Run Time date and time, the Last Run Result, Author and the date and time when it was Created.

Click on one of the existing tasks to see more information about it, in the panels below the list of tasks.

The information about any task is split into six tabs, which display data that cannot be modified, only read:

  1. General - displays the following information: the name of the selected task, its location, author, a short description and several security options (the account for which to run the task, when to run the task depending on the user being logged in or not, if the task is hidden, etc).

  2. Triggers - displays the list of conditions that trigger the task, details about each trigger and the status of each trigger.

  3. Actions - displays the action that will occur when the task starts and details this action. For example, if the action is Start a program, in the Details column you will see the program that will start.
  4. Conditions - shares the conditions that must be true in order for the task to run. These conditions are things like whether the computer is idle or not, whether it is on AC power or battery power, etc.

  5. Settings - it displays additional settings that affect the behavior of the task. It includes things like whether the task can be run on demand or not, what to do if the task fails, whether to stop the task if it runs longer than a specified time, etc.
  6. History - this tab has been disabled in both Windows 8 and Windows 7 and it no longer displays any useful information. It is empty!

Conclusion

Now that you know how to browse your library of scheduled tasks, you can move on to other, more advanced topics. Don't hesitate to read the other articles recommended below, so that you get a better understanding of how the Task Scheduler works and how to use it to manage all kinds of tasks on your Windows computer or device.

Also, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to use the form below and leave a comment.