When the Scheduled Tasks folder is first opened, it contains a single program icon named Add Scheduled Task. Double-clicking this icon begins the Scheduled Task Wizard, shown in Figure 39.1. Click the Next button to continue with the wizard.
Figure 39.1: The Scheduled Task Wizard guides you in creating a new task.
Some installations automatically add tasks to the Scheduled Tasks folder. For example, after installing an iPod, the Scheduled Tasks folder includes an AppleSoftwareUpdate task.
In addition to programs and scripts, you can also choose a document to be opened; Windows automatically opens the document with its associated application.
The next step in the wizard presents a list of programs you can choose to run. If you click the Browse button, a file dialog box opens where you can select the specific program or batch script to run, as shown in Figure 39.2. You need to select a program to run before the Next button becomes enabled.
Figure 39.2: Step 2 of the Scheduled Task Wizard lets you select a program to run.
The third step of the wizard lets you name the scheduled task and choose how often the task is performed, as shown in Figure 39.3. The options include Daily, Weekly, Monthly, One time only, When my computer starts, and When I log on. Make a selection to activate the Next button in order to continue.
Figure 39.3: Step 3 of the Scheduled Task Wizard lets you name the task and decide how often it is executed.
Another useful way to have programs start automatically when a computer is re-booted is to place a shortcut for the program in the Startup folder found in the Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Startup directory.
The fourth step of the wizard changes depending on how often you've selected to run a task, but for each option you can choose the starting time and the date for the task. If the Daily option is selected, you can set the Start time and Date and whether the task is run every day, only on week-days, or every specified number of days.
If you leave your computer on during the night, scheduling maintenance tasks to run during the middle of the night is a great idea. Some of these tasks can take a significant amount of time to complete and if scheduled during the day when the computer is likely to be in use, would slow the computer down.
If the Weekly option is selected, then you can set the Start time and whether the tasks run every week or every specified number of weeks. You can also choose specifically which days of the week the task is run, Monday through Sunday. Figure 39.4 shows the fourth step of the wizard for the Weekly option.
Figure 39.4: Step 4 of the Scheduled Task Wizard lets you specify a time and date for the task.
If the Monthly option is selected, you can set the Start time along with the day of the month to run the task. You can also select specific days of the month such as the first, second, third, fourth, or last day of the month. You can also choose which months from January through December to include.
If you select the One time only option, you can select a specific Start time and date. Even though this option only runs the task once, the task is still defined and can be restarted at any time using the task's Properties dialog box.
If your computer is turned off when a task is scheduled to run, a message appears the next time the computer is turned on. The message reminds you that a scheduled task failed to run and gives you the option to run it again.
If you select the When my computer starts or the When I log on options, you don't need to select a time and date, and so this step is skipped.
The fifth step of the Scheduled Task Wizard asks you to provide a user name and password, as shown in Figure 39.5. This user name and password is the same information that you use to log in to Windows. By providing the login information, you can use the When I log on option to have specific programs launch only when you log in. This is a useful way to get access to your programs when you share the computer with others.
Figure 39.5: Step 5 of the Scheduled Task Wizard requires that you enter the username and password.
If you don't log into your computer with a username and password, then you can simply leave the fields in the fifth step of the Scheduled Task Wizard blank.
The final step of the Scheduled Task Wizard recaps the settings you've selected, as shown in Figure 39.6. If you enable the Open advanced properties option, the Properties dialog box for the task you've just created appears where you can change the task's settings. After it is created, the new task appears in the Scheduled Tasks folder.
Figure 39.6: The final step of the Scheduled Task Wizard summarizes the settings.
To create a Scheduled Task to run the Disk Cleanup application, follow these steps:
Select the Start Control Panel menu command to open the Control Panel.
Double-click the Scheduled Tasks icon to open its folder.
Double-click on the Add Scheduled Task icon to execute it.
Within the Scheduled Task Wizard, click Next. In the second panel of the wizard, select the Disk Cleanup application and click Next.
The name Disk Cleanup is automatically added as the task's name. Select the Weekly option and click Next.
Set the Start time to 3:00 AM, for example, and select the Friday option; then click Next.
Enter the username and password for your Windows login.
Click Finish to exit the wizard and to create the new task.