Tasker 101: the basics

You have Tasker; we'll show you how to use it

We've covered what Tasker is and what it can do for you, but as most anyone who uses Tasker will tell you, the hardest part of Tasker is getting started. The learning curve is a bit steep, but we're here to help you get the basics down and get you building your own Tasks and basic profiles.

So, grab the app and let's get started.

Finding your way around

Tasker's interface is simple, nondescript and offers few clues to the uninitiated as to what to do first. Of the four tabs in the main app, we have Profiles, Tasks, Scenes, and Variables. We will only be using the first two today, starting with Tasks.

Some of my tasks, with matching icons

In the Task tab, you have a list of your tasks — or you will in a minute, anyway — and then at the bottom you have a home button on the left and a plus on the right. That home button indicates we are in the home project. You can make new projects to organize tasks, profiles, and other elements into, like folders, by long-pressing the home icon and selecting New.

For now, however, we need to make some tasks before we start worrying about organization. So, we'll tap the plus in the bottom right corner, the new task button. After naming the task, which for today's purposes I'm calling "Quiet Time," we're taken into the task composition page.

An empty task. Let's build!

The blank sheet upon which to compose our wonderful task.

The plus we just clicked has shifted to the middle, and it now gives us new actions to add to our empty task. We also have buttons on either side. On the left, there's a play button, which — you guessed it — plays the task. On the right, we have two buttons, a task setting button (which you don't need to worry about quite yet), and a task icon picker. You can use one of the 300 built-in icons, or you can pick your own. If you want to trigger your task using a shortcut (even a gesture shortcut, such as in Nova Launcher), you have to have an icon, so go ahead and pick one. For most of my tasks, I try to use the same icon for paired entrance and exit tasks in light and dark), to make it easier to spot them in the list.

Now, time to add an action.

Let's plus it up!

Action categories in Tasker

Now, we have a bunch of folders and a search bar. That search bar comes in quite handy, but the folders are easy to browse through as well.

One of these things is not like the others... it's not available to me.

If you see a red action, it's not available for your device. You might need to be rooted or it may simply be unsupported. Gears stand for settings actions and lightning bolts are "normal actions." For this task, we'll be using lots of gears. First, we're going to silence the phone, so the action we're searching for the "silent mode" setting action.

Basic action edit screen

Here in the action settings, we can set silent mode accordingly (Silent Mode On, Silent Mode off, or Vibrate), and we can also use the If modifier to add conditionals that must be met for this specific action to actually complete. In my old battery saver profile I would have more of the settings cut back as the battery got lower, so first the screen timeout would shrink, then the Bluetooth and WiFi would shut off, and then the data would shut-off as a last-ditch effort. But for now, ifs are unneeded. If we wanted to swap this action out for another, the redo arrow at the top of the screen would let us pick a new action.

Question and answer

The question mark next to the redo arrow is a help button. It appears on every action and context page, explaining that action or context in case you haven't encountered it before. You can either download these pages, which are taken from the Tasker website, or view them online. In either event, they are helpful if you're not completely sure if this action is the one you're looking for.

Alright, when you're done with your action, you'll hit the Tasker icon in the top left corner with the arrow next to it. That brings us back to the task composition screen and we can add another action.

Automating with Tasker

One task, ready for testing.

With one action down, we can start building the next. Now, we've added a silencer, and in order to preserve data/battery, we're going to shut off Wi-Fi and Auto-Sync settings the same way. After you assemble a task, you need to test it before we move on the more permanent implementations. Hit play and watch the indicators at the top of your screen. Wifi should go out, and your 4G/3G indicators shouldn't come on, just a silent indicator. Once you have that, we can move on to the many ways we can trigger this task.

The context types available in Tasker

The first, and most popular, is with Profiles. One possible context for a task like ours would be to have it activate based off the time of day. You can set the times however you choose for the final implementation, but while testing, you should set the time for about three or four minutes from now, just to make sure it happens. Don't worry, it's easy to change the times once the profile is already made. After you set the time, you pick the entrance task for it to trigger, in our case Quiet Time.

And now, we wait. While we do, another tip!

Testing extras and activation alerts

My pop-up's pretty, and it means that my wifi and Auto-synce are coming back on in a few minutes.

Another way to help ensure that a task is triggering and completing while testing, for me at least, is to add a pop-up or a sound at the end of the task. I also use this for the two tasks that are activated by gesture controls in Nova, having a pop-up that tells me 'yes, you indeed triggered me, whether you intended to or not'. These pop-ups are also my personal cheat around one of the common errors I get with certain tasks, which only work when the screen is on. Turning the screen on is supposedly a root-only function in Tasker, however, a pop-up will turn on the screen for however long it flashes, and that's long enough to trigger the rest of your profile.

Tasker triggers are plentiful, purposeful, and pretty diverse.

And if you don't want to use a time-based profile, or want extra ways to trigger this task, there are options. Tasker task shortcuts can be put on your homescreens, and in launchers like Nova, shortcuts like Tasker tasks can be triggered with gesture controls. A number of users play with NFC triggers, or geo-fencing. I haven't, mainly because I don't have NFC tags to play with — I'd love to play with a Disney MagicBand and see if it'll work with Tasker, and, y'know, go nuts in the parks. There are a number of plugins that can be used as contexts as well, I'm using AutoNotification Intercept in order to use the advanced algorithms and optimizations that Moto Assist uses for it's profiles and then implement my own more robust Driving mode task. Voice controls are another popular method, either using the built in Voice controls or plugins like AutoVoice — which can be used in a root method to integrate Tasker tasks into Touchless Controls and 'Ok Google' commands. Much of this will be coming in the advanced Tasker post in a week or so, but for now, that profile should've triggered, and since it did (I hope), we can move on.

You can set the profile to the time you want, and since this task is purely made of settings, we don't even need to make an exit task: your settings will revert to their previous state when the exit time of your profile is reached.

Cooking with Tasker: all about reading recipes

Exporting a simple task that turns on my jams

Now, not everyone want to build their own tasks or profiles from scratch, and luckily for them, Tasker fans like to share "recipes" for tasks, profiles, or entire projects, or outright share the project, either as an app APK or as an XML file that can be imported into Tasker and tweaked to accommodate the user's needs or the individual nuances of their device.

Most of the time, however, when a user shares Tasker elements, it's a written recipe, which can be easily copy-pasted when asked for in the many forums, communities and various tech sites in which Tasker is discussed. And reading Tasker recipes, especially complex recipes, can be a bit like look at theoretical physics equations. However, there seem to be a few more standard ways to decipher them.

Profile: Name Event: Event context and type, details Enter (entrance task): Task name A1 (Action 1): Action, action details A2: Action, action details …

A tasker profile as seen on reddit

This is a bit easier to follow, as it shows the exact route for each step.

If you can't quite figure it out, rest assured its owner is nearby to help clarify for you. And that's the best part: the community is more than willing to help newbies get a hang of Tasker, because even seasoned Tasker users need help troubleshooting a project at some point.

So, what recipes do you have to share? And what are you looking forward to seeing next in our little Tasker tidbits? Hit us up in the comments below.

Ara Wagoner

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

  • Used to be more into Tasker and AutoVoice, but now I only have some simple ones, like:
    -Unlock phone while connected to car Bluetooth or home WiFi.
    -Vibrate only during work, class and sleep time.
    -Set the display brightness to maximum for 30seconds when incoming call received during daylight hours.
    -And the most important reason I use Tasker. Periodically sync all my emails (6 of them) and selected Google services using the "Synker" app. I do not enable auto syncing, so I set Synker to do the syncing every 15 or 30 minutes through Tasker. There is an easier and more user friendly program called Trigger which I recommend over Tasker if you're just new. All these are unnecessary with the Moto X except for Synker, so I don't have Tasker installed on the Moto X. So in conclusion, buy a Moto X or the Moto X+1.
  • I export apps in Tasker in order to use them with Touchless Controls. Tasker still has a place on the Moto X, or mine, at least. Trigger is good for getting used to automation, but Tasker will take you further.
  • Is there any way for tasker to find that keyboard is out and set it as a trigger?
  • Do you mean a physical keyboard?
  • No, not physical, on screen keyboard.
  • Yes. Start a new profile:
    State -> Hardware -> Keyboard Out.
  • I can never seem to get the "Auto unlock" tasks to work (unlock phone when at home, or in the car), and I think it's because I have my Android configured to use the "Google Apps Device Policy" app for my work email. Does anyone know how to get around this?
  • You probably need the secure settings plugin to do this. Once you install it, for your task you will select Plugins > Secure Settings and then configure the action there.
  • Thanks ritt02, that fixed my problem with not being able to keep my phone unlocked on home wifi.
  • Try using a 3rd Party mail client like Nine or Touchdown so the security will apply to the app instead of the entire device. Had the same issue when setting up my work email, but I use Nine now.
  • Man I like (at least I think I like...) my Gmail app...what are your thoughts on Nine?
  • I like it a lot. I actually have an iPhone for work, but hardly look at it since I have nine now. Interface it clean, I have all the features I need as if I was using the iphone, full HTML support so my signature looks just like I sent it from Outlook, swipe to delete like gmail app, and its affordable. Got it for 9.99, not sure if its still on sale though.
  • Off topic, but +1 to Nine. I love the app. Development seems to be active as well. I love the fact that the security stays in the app, not across the entire phone.
  • Like ritt02 said, Secure Settings is what you need. Also, make sure in your device settings that Screen Lock is set to None. Once you have Tasker and Secure Settings configured all the lock screen settings will be controlled from Tasker. That was one of the reasons I had trouble with my initial set up. Once I set the device screen lock to none it works perfectly.
  • I have Secure Settings and have it configured to enter my PIN. I cannot disable the device setting...that's one of the things the Google app locks down
  • I see what you mean, Sorry, I'm not familiar with Google Apps Device Policy since I just use the generic Google "Email" app(not Gmail) for my work emails through the Corporate Outlook server.
  • Wow.... Nice writeup and please do continue with this. Posted via Android Central App from my HTC M8
  • Been using Tasker since it came out. My favorite profiles are Headphones when plugged in. This provides a list of apps to choose from wheen I plug in my headphones. My other favorite profile is Profile Selector. With this profile I have a shortcut on my phone screen. When I select the shortcut I get a popup with a list of preset sound profiles to choose from. It even changes the icon on my screen.
    Oh, does anyone know how to get the profiles & tasks to show when the app opens. For some reason neither are displayed when I open the app. Thanks. Posted via Android Central App
  • Ive had tasker for like 2 years now, I've never used it..
  • I'd encourage you to try Automagic. It's as powerful as Tasker but you can use it without hours of tutorials. The interface is EASY. http://automagic4android.com/en/evaluation
  • Interesting, something like on{x}?
  • You can get NFC tags from Amazon; 12 for something like $8. I started playing with them this weekend. Fun stuff.
  • Broke college grad is broke! That said, I'd almost rather use voice controls since I have a Moto X. Touchless Controls FTW!!
  • Haha, I remember those days. Maybe you can convince Phil to expense them for you...you know, because they're for "work" purposes. ;-)
  • I'm still learning this app after installing it last week. So far I created a night time silent mode, which silences everything, but I made exceptions for a few favorite contacts that could call in the middle if the night so they can get through. Seems to work good so far. I've also created a WiFi profile to turn off WiFi completely once I leave home. This app seems very powerful but I'm just scratching the surface! Posted via Android Central App on my white Nexus 4 with StraightTalk ATT
  • Here's a quick Tasker tip I stumbled on this past weekend. Apparently I somehow disabled Tasker completely; no Profiles would trigger and the ever-present Tasker notification was missing from the notifications list. Solution; long press the Tasker icon in the upper left of the Tasker editor to toggle it Enabled\Disabled. I must have unintentionally disabled my Tasker without noticing. It took me a while to figure that one out.
  • You can also do it with the persistent Tasker notification, if you expand the notification, you'll see a disable button.
  • I was excited to see this, as I bought tasker sometime back but never spent the time to figure out how to use it. I'm fairly technical and have done programming but honestly found this article a little hard to follow. To start with, was it done with an older version of tasker? My screens are similar but not the same (no vars tab, no home or settings button on bottom). I thought maybe I had an old version so I updated to the latest but it is still different. Also just makes a lot of leaps that you kind of have to guess what was done and talks about a lot of stuff but never explains it. Any suggestions for other tutorials? The first thing I want to set up is that screen doesn't lock when connected to my home wifi.
  • Your UI looks different because you're in Beginner Mode. If you'd like to see the (very slightly) advanced mode, go to Preferences and uncheck Beginner Mode. To unlock your phone when you're on your home wifi, I believe you need to use the Secure Settings plugin. I'm not sure if you need root access, though. Posted via Android Central App
  • Tasker is great.
    I have multiple profiles and actions based on what is connected via BT and time of day.
  • Tasker ftw! Posted via Android Central App
  • For some reason, my airplane and silent profiles still are active after set time (i.e I set time to 22:00 to 6:00 and after 6:00 phone is still silent and ir airplane mode). Do I need so setup different profile to disable airplane/silent or smth?
  • You don't need to set a different profile, but an exit task might work for you. Question though, do you have any other triggers besides time on your profile that could be interfering with the exit? Posted via Android Central App
  • I installed tasker after reading an article about home automation, someone used their Android wear to do voice commands to control lights etc, which I managed to do as well when I added my raspberry pi in the equation :) with the plugins autovoice and tasker URL launcher, and a tellstick plugged in to my raspberry to control my nexa outlets I can now tell my phone to turn on and off selected lights in my house by calling a cgi script that runs the commands on the pi.
  • I have several Tasker profiles, one for headphones being plugged in, one for night time, three "home" Wi-Fi locations, even the SMS reader one in the article, although I've changed it to my liking. I use it with Google Now for hands free texting while I'm driving. Posted via Android Central App
  • Would or can anyone help an extreme beginner to Tasker?? Please....
  • After reading the above article, I think I learned how to get started. I am very new to this. My goal is to do something very simple at first - if I'm in a meeting and a SMS arrives, simply display the information on the screen, no noise, no vibration, nothing other than displaying the message for a few seconds. Where can I find the list of "triggers" (is that what it would be?) where I can find the proper one for doing something when an SMS arrives. Also, is there a way for me to put comments in my script, so in the future I can remember what each line was for?
  • Hello, ive made a profile with the action "Music Play" as this is the only way I found so far to start a song file followed by the action "Notify>Popup". The issue is when I test this profile, I get an error message with the Tasker Icon saying "WARNING Seek point past end of track". I have googled this question and it comes up with multiple hits of the same user asking this question and not being answered. Can anyone here help please? Im using a Samsung Galaxly note 3 unrooted with default Lolipop OS. If there is a way to export the profile id be happy to do so, or I can type out what I see on the Task Edit screen here if necessary. Thank you for reading.