Task Scheduler

Definition of Task Scheduler in The Network Encyclopedia.

What is Task Scheduler?

A Microsoft Windows 2000 utility that lets you schedule when to run or open a script, program, or document. Task Scheduler is a useful tool for regularly running system maintenance. Task Scheduler is also the name of the Windows 2000 service that underlies the operation of this utility.

How Task Scheduler Works

You schedule a new task by using the Scheduled Tasks wizard, which you can access through the Scheduled Tasks folder in Control Panel. This wizard prompts you for the following information:

  • The script, program, or other file you want to run or open.
  • The schedule for the task. For example, you can configure a task to run daily, weekly, monthly, when you log on, when the system starts, or only a single time.
  • The credentials under which the task will run. You must specify credentials with sufficient privileges to run the script or program, or to open the file.
  • Advanced options, including how different power management conditions will affect the execution of the task, stopping the task if it runs for too long, or configuring the task to execute when the computer is idle for a specific period of time.

The result of scheduling a task is a task file, which has the extension .job. You can send these task files to and receive them from other users as attachments to e-mail messages. Users can then drag these files into their local Scheduled Tasks folder. Administrators can also view and modify tasks displayed in the Scheduled Tasks folder called \Winnt\Tasks on remote computers by using My Network Places.

Once a task has been scheduled, you can modify, delete, disable, or stop its execution. The service creates a log file of past scheduled tasks that can be viewed using the Advanced menu of the Scheduled Tasks folder.


Task Scheduler provides a friendlier, GUI-based interface for scheduling system tasks than the at command used at the command prompt for scheduling tasks in Microsoft Windows NT. The at command is still available in Windows 2000, and tasks scheduled using this command appear in the Scheduled Tasks folder. However, if you use the GUI-based Task Scheduler to modify a task that was scheduled using the at command, you no longer will be able to use the at command to modify the task.


You can also schedule a task by dragging the icon for a script, program, or document from My Computer or Windows Explorer into the Scheduled Tasks folder.

If scheduled tasks do not run when expected, check the system date and time on your computer to see whether they are accurate.

If you have trouble using the at command to schedule a task, you might have accidentally changed the security context (credentials) under which the command runs. Check this using the Advanced menu of the Scheduled Tasks folder.