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PCs are marvelous tools, aren’t they? They can do so much for us, but they’re hardly the user-friendly home computers promised in science-fiction, which can follow any voice command and perform self-maintenance. It would be nice, at least, if your PC could at least do some things on its own. How about automatic weekly disk defragmentation or disk cleanup?

Here’s how to use Windows’ Task Scheduler to run desired programs automatically at preset time.

An overview of Task Scheduler is in order. Open it from Start Menu > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Scheduled Tasks. Double-click “Add Scheduled Task” to open the Wizard.

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windows task scheduler

Your first step is to select the program to be run on a schedule. For this example, we’ll schedule one of MakeUseOf’s favorite Windows programs, CCleaner, to perform automatic system cleanup. Download it here.

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how to run programs automatically

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You’ll next choose the day and time when to run the program. For a disk-cleanup tool such as this, running daily or weekly should be just fine. I’m scheduling CCleaner to run at 6:17 PM every day.

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Next, name and provide the password for the Windows user account which will run the program. At the next step, select the checkbox to open the task’s advanced properties.

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Now, looking at how this task is set up, not much is going to happen on schedule, except that CCleaner opens. To get CCleaner to do its thing, we’ll need to add some command-line arguments, or “switches”, to the Run line. Depending on which program you’re wishing to automate, this is where things start to get different. To find out what switches exist, if any, you may check the program’s documentation and help files, or just Google it.

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For CCleaner, adding “/AUTO” to the Run line will have the program perform a disk cleanup silently and in the background, then close when done. Let’s go back to the task properties, where I’ve added the switch to the Run command.

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After hitting OK, CCleaner will run on your specified schedule.

There are other solutions to run programs automatically on a specified schedule or in response to a system event. What are your own favorites? Give us some ideas in the comments.

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