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Tasker tips and tricks

Another day, another task

We've covered Tasker and the very basics of how to use it, and now, it's time for you to start playing a little bit on your own. Think of Tasker as a toy as much as a tool and you can really let loose and have fun in it. Voice controls, plugins and a little ingenuity can turn your phone into your butler, your study buddy, and your best friend.

Now, today I'm just going to go over a few things that can help you pick a project you'd might like to do, or help you when you get stuck and the support communities aren't being responsive, which is admittedly rare.

Tasker preferences

Tasker preferences

Everyone has their own preferences for how things should be done, but most importantly, everyone has their own preferences within the preferences of Tasker! Some people prefer a light theme instead of a dark one (DARK THEME FOREVER). Once you want the training wheels off, you can turn off beginner mode in the settings. You can also add nice little touches here, like naming a profile before you build it which is important to some users.

customize notifications and sensor intervals

In the monitor tab, we can do a lot of fun things, and we can also help regain some of the battery you might be losing. That said, I've never seen a noticeable decline in battery just from installing and using Tasker. Scrolling down, you can change the interval that Tasker searched for certain sensors to fit your needs/desires. But more importantly, we can decide if we want to run Tasker in the foreground, which is highly recommended to ensure your profiles trigger properly, but if you can just run it in the background if you're doing some simple tasks that you'll manual trigger with shortcuts.

You can also customize the expandable persistent notification that is required when Tasker runs in the foreground. It defaults to only have one option when you expand it, disabling Tasker, but you can replace that with up to three tasks. For those who don't want to bother with the voice controls I'll be getting to in a second, this is a nifty way to quickly trigger something no matter where you are.

Voice controls in Tasker

AutoVoice app settings

But you should bother with voice controls. Voice controls are your friend, and they are one of the best (and easiest) ways to automate your phone. They also are super easy to integrate with 'Ok Google (Now)' since wunder-plugin developer Joao Dias's AutoVoice can intercept Google Now commands. I'm gonna show you how I can use Tasker to turn on my music with only my voice and Touchless Controls/Google Now. No root, no separate apps (as I used before).

First, we need Tasker (which you should already have) and AutoVoice. If you use a short trigger, you can test using the free version, and then you can upgrade to the full version once you know it works for you. You need to follow the directions in AutoVoice for Google Now integration. By the way, AutoVoice has Google Play Games integration with achievements and levels, so you can turn learning all the nooks and crannies of it into a game! See, I told you Tasker was a toy!

AutoVoice's many conexts. We're using the last one

Now, we're going to make a new profile in Tasker, so hit the plus, and we're going to use an Event context this time. Under plugins, we'll find "AutoVoice Recognized." Select that, and then hit the pencil to edit, so we can edit the command it'll be recognizing.

configuring an autovoice context

Now, you can enter your voice command either by text or by speech. The command that I used was "music makes us better" which is the tiny song from the end of a Phineas and Ferb episode. Once we have our command set, we can accept the changes with that checkmark and head back out to choose our task, and we're going to select new task because I haven't shown it to you yet ...

Proper playback controls

Music makes us better, brings us together!

... and now I have. Nothing too complex here, but I will explain both why I bother to load the app and why I wait a few seconds. First, if you don't load an app and have it running in the foreground and you just hit play/toggle pause in the media controls, there's a chance it'll misfire and something else will start up. And if you are particular about your music, as I am, you do not want this!

Next, the wait of a few seconds allows time for the app to fully load and prepare for the upcoming playback. Most phones don't need this, but I started using this back on my old and sluggish Samsung Captivate Glide (I miss you, Soarin!) and while the time has dwindled, the step remains.

Now, say it with me folks! "Ok Google (Now). Music makes us better!"

Did it work? It didn't? Well, then, we'll have to do something about that.

Patience and practice

Contains All helps Google Now commands work. It also gives you flexibility in your commands.

It's always the setting you least expect...

Now, for the voice controls not working, my first suggestion is to turn on the "contains all" option further down the page in the AutoVoice Recognition configuration. That was how I finally got it to work with Touchless Controls for me. Did that do it? Excellent. Moving on, there's something to remember about this troubleshooting.

Patience is more than a virtue in Tasker.

These are two tenants that become essential when using Tasker, or more accurately when something in Tasker doesn't work perfectly the first time. You need the patience to go hunting for your bug, and once you've gotten the practice of doing it a few times, it'll get easier and easier to sniff out problems and prevent/fix them. You have to have the patience to not immediately run screaming to the support communities for help, and you need to practice hunting out problems yourself before you admit defeat and seek help.

If you're asking people to fix your problems for you, be polite and be specific

Help requests in a support community

When you need help, you have to say more than simply: I can't get such-and-such task to work, help me. Give us specifics of what you're doing and more importantly let us see the tasks/profiles that you're using to accomplish this. The same action can be reached a dozen different ways in Tasker (not really, but you'd be surprised) and if we don't know how you're doing it, we might assume that you using an entirely different method, thus causing us to give you bad information and not help you at all. You don't have to export your broken project to us, but take some screencaps in Tasker and post them as a gallery with your cries for help. Just as a doctor need information before he can heal a patient, we need information before we can mend your broken coding. That said ...

Never be afraid to push the envelope

Tasker's a bit like the Enterprise in Star Trek. The mission? To seek out new tasks, and new implementations, to explore strange new plugins… to boldly automate what no phone has done before!

Okay, that was a bit cheesy, even for me, but it's true! In preparation of our next Tasker article, I'll be diving into some new territory: AutoCast, and scenes, which I have been blessed enough to avoid for my two years in Tasker automation.

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.

19 Comments
  • THANKS! Tasker is one of those apps that I never seem to find the time to get around to learn (damn life gets in the way) and this series is prompting me to move things forward (and is a reminder to keep moving)
  • If you need any more incentive, you can use HTTPGET, in Tasker, to pull XML data from the web and do all kinds of fun stuff with it. I'm using it to have my phone read the weather to me in the morning after I dismiss the alarm. I'm thinking about doing the same with traffic. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Can u please, tell me how to do that, that weather stuff it's sounds cool.
  • Tasker is definitely worth the time if you don't mind the learning curve, it can replace so many other (admittedly easier to use) apps, not to mention replicate tons of functionality from various OEM skins etc. (HTC's turn to quiet ringtone, voice controls, etc)
  • If Google ever did something that made Tasker not work, I'd probably give up on smartphones. Tasker is why I will not buy a new phone until unlock and root methods have been figured out.
  • Is there a way to use Tasker so apps only update automatically while charging? Posted via Android Central App on 1+1
  • If you mean "update" as in update through the playstore, then possibly, if you mean syncing then use tasker + syncer
  • Hey Ara! Thanks for tackling this series. I know that AC ranges from 101 articles, to device rumor mill articles, to tasker tutorial type articles, and based on comparing the comments of the full spectrum of articles, it looks like the tasker crowd might not be as large as some of the other crowds that read and are interested in ACs other stories, so... props to ya for taking on the giant. I've been using tasker since I had the OG Droid and have loved its functionality. Lately though, I've been stumped on one thing in some of my tasker profiles that I just can't seem to nail down. It's a function that you may or may not be familiar with unless you've done other types of programming, specifically logic programming like ladder logic (PLC). I'm looking for an ON DELAY TIMER, not just a timer that begins and continues counting when a series of contexts (permissives) is activated, but a timer that will ONLY count while the contexts are true, and will stop counting AND RESET when at least one of the contexts isn't true. This way, if you want something to happen 5 minutes after your screen is on and your screen hasn't shut off into sleep mode, it will execute a task, but if for some reason the screen does shut off before 5 minutes, it will not execute the task and will begin counting from 0 sec the next time the screen turns on. I've tried to make custom ON DELAY TIMERS with variables and other methods, but my profiles just don't work the same as if there were just a simple ON DELAY TIMER task built in (Currently with variables, I can only start a timer based on contexts, and then check in an amount of time to see if the contexts are still true at the end of the timer, but nothing to stop the profile if a context goes false during the timing... so with my screen example, tasker can't tell the difference between the screen turning on for a minute, off for 3 minutes and on for 2 minutes and the screen being on for 6 minutes straight.). Anyway, if you, or anyone reading this stupid long comment, knows where to find this ON DELAY TIMER, or how to create one in tasker, please spread the wealth! Thanks!
  • I'd make a profile which runs every 2 minutes (minimum time) that increments a global variable
    and activating/deactivating the profile when needed...
    would that work?
    If your heart is set on 5 minutes, make 2 of these profiles and activate them both with a 1 minute delay in between
  • Well, I'm really looking for some way to be able to track whether an activity has been continuously active for a set amount of time, and if that activity does not last the specified amount of time, then the rest of the profile doesn't execute, but rather resets the profile and sits and waits till the activity starts again.
  • You can use the built in wait action along with a stop action in the exit context. When your contexts are false the exit action will execute stopping the countdown.
  • Hmm, I wonder if there's a profile that replicates HTC's flip phone face down for speakerphone feature. I miss that. Posted via Android Central App
  • How about this : New task > audio > speakerphone > set on (will deactivate automatically when you pick up the phone. New profile
    First context > state > sensor > orientation > face down (select task from above) Second context for your profile:
    State > phone > call > set to any So basically, this triggers speakerphone when face down and on a call (both sent and received) I tried this with my brother and my Nexus 5. Posted via Nexus 5 or Nexus 7 (2013)
  • Your brother is running Android? Or his phone ;)
  • I love tasker. I will admit my profiles are pretty simple (time and calendar based events). I'm impressed by the complexity of some people's setup.
  • It took me years to have the patience to get Tasker working for me. The UI leaves a lot to be desired, but I honestly couldn't think of anything better without sacrificing functionality. I've been looking for useful and cool things to automate since I learned how like 2 weeks ago. I love Google Now integration, been waiting for it about 4 years. Now that I finally know, I can't think of anything to automate with my voice!!? I've got dumb things like send a canned text to my wife and my buddies with my voice; turn off the screen with my voice; change to preset volume profiles with voice commands; different settings (had to get creative with commands now that GNow half ass started monkeying with settings without actually making useful 1 step changes) like wifi and bluetooth - but that's about it. If anyone has any other cool ideas I'd love to hear about them. Mainly Voice profiles are interesting to me. I'm a bit of a romantic at heart and truly believe we'll all be able to have Jeeve's from Ironman soon enough ;)
  • I like the concept, but in order to use the Google Now intigration you must turn off Multi-window. Saddly, I use MW far more than I would use voice commands. (I am so spoiled I can't imagine using twitter anymore without links opening in the second window automatically) Anyone know a way around this?
  • I use hover browser, just make sure you close all windows when you're done, it can be a batterydrain when left unchecked https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.anrdoezrs.net%2F... Link bubble is basically the same (not tested battery use yet)
    https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.anrdoezrs.net%2F...
  • Here's another tip:
    It is easy not to realise you've set a variable incorrectly. You could 'flash' the value but if you make your variables global by adding capital letters you can just flip to Vars and see their contents. Once you are satisfied, change them to Local. So you don't miss any you could use Test1 Test2 Test3 etc. That way you won't have to worry about leaving some Globals when you make your variables Local.