How do I use the Tasker app

Automate smartphones with Tasker (part 1)

The Tasker app makes your smartphone even smarter. Because thanks to this software, the device does many things automatically that you previously had to take care of relatively laboriously yourself. The user interface of the app takes some getting used to. But if you have created two or three automatics with the help of this workshop, then the operation of the most important functions will be second nature to you.

The workshop shows you, among other things, how to use your smartphone ...

  • ... turn on the WiFi function automatically when you get home,
  • ... to deactivate password protection in certain locations,
  • ... start the music app when you plug in the headphones,
  • ... and turn off the ringtones in the evening.

In the "Profile" window, Tasker lists all available automatic functions. The currently active profiles are marked in green.

In the "Tasks" window you will find all the tasks that have been created. You can either have it called up automatically or start it via a widget.

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What is "Tasker"?

If you want your smartphone to behave exactly the way you expect it to, or if you just enjoy tinkering, Tasker is one of the most exciting apps on the Play Store for you.
Tasker allows you to automate processes on your smartphone. For example, it is possible with the app to switch off password protection when you are at home - or to automatically mute your smartphone during your bedtime.
As a trigger for switching functions on and off, Tasker can use, among other things, the location, the time, the position, brightness and proximity sensors, the charge level of the battery, incoming calls and connected additional devices.
Tasker's user interface may seem a little daunting at first. But if you read the brief explanations in the boxes "Contexts and Tasks" and "Actions" on this page and then follow the steps of the workshop part "Scenario I" on the following page, you will quickly see how the app works.

Demo version

Only the paid version of Tasker is available on the Play Store. You can find a free demo version on the manufacturer's website: tasker.dinglisch.net/download - This version works for seven days.

Tips

Each of the profiles (see box “Contexts and Tasks”) that you create in Tasker can be switched on and off in the “Profile” window using the “Off / On” button to the right of the name of the profile. This is useful when you do not need the associated automatic, but do not want to delete it completely. Even if you exit the Tasker window, it makes sense that the app continues to run in the background. You can tell by the Tasker icon in the notification bar. Do you feel bothered by this symbol? Then hide it by calling up the “Settings” menu item and switching off the “Run in the foreground” option. However, it can happen that the smartphone terminates the Tasker app if the memory is running low. Do you want to turn off Tasker? Then tap and hold the Tasker icon in the top left corner of the screen so that the orange lightning bolt in the gear turns gray. A long tap on this symbol will turn Tasker back on later.

additions

In the Play Store you will find numerous plug-ins for Tasker, i.e. extensions that give the app additional capabilities. Also of interest is the “Tasker App Factory”, which allows you to convert Tasker tasks into independent apps that you can pass on to other users.

Contexts and tasks

Tasker uses the if-then principle. For example, if you are at home, Tasker will turn on the WiFi functionality. So if a certain condition applies, the app takes an action. In order to understand the user interface of Tasker, it makes sense to briefly deal with the terms that the app uses: Instead of “condition”, Tasker uses the expression “context”. The actions that the app can perform are known as “actions”. Several such actions can be combined into a “task”. (In some places on the user interface, Tasker uses the term “task” instead of “task”.) And finally, a “profile” is the combination of a context with a task. A concrete example: You can create a profile whose context monitors whether you plug the headphones into the smartphone. When this happens, Tasker performs a task that consists of two actions: launching the Music app and lowering the volume.

Actions

Tasker offers a multitude of actions with which you can control many functions of the smartphone. For the sake of clarity, these actions are divided into 20 categories. The actions allow you, for example, to switch the WLAN, Bluetooth and data synchronization functions on and off, display notifications, read texts, change the volume of the ringtones, send SMS messages or activate the hands-free system.

SCENARIO I

Automatically turn on WiFi when you get home - and turn it off when you're on the move.

1 | In the "Profile" window of the Tasker app, tap the plus button in the lower center to create a new profile. Select the “Location” entry in the “First context” menu that appears automatically. Then tap the “New Position” button in the “Select Location” dialog box. In the "Edit location" window you can now select the location of your home (or your work) on a Google Maps map. The "Radius" option at the bottom right allows you to specify how large the area should be in which the smartphone assumes that you are at home.
Irritatingly, Tasker does not display an "OK" button to confirm the entries in this window or in any other window. Instead, tap the Tasker icon located in the top left corner of the screen. Or - even easier - use the back button or button on your smartphone. Back in the "Profile" window, the app asks for a name for this new context. The term “home” is a good example of this.

2 | Now your smartphone knows when to do something. But not yet what to do. Therefore, tap the entry “New Task” in the “Task input” menu that appears automatically. And enter a descriptive name such as “WLAN to” in the “New task name” dialog box. This will land you in the "Edit task" window. There you specify what the smartphone should actually do: switch on the WLAN function.
So tap the plus button in the lower center to add a new action to this task. In the “Action Category” dialog box, tap the “Network” button and then in the “Select Network Action” dialog box, tap the “Wi-Fi” button. In the “Edit Action” dialog box, enable the “On” option instead of the “Off” option. Then press the back button twice to confirm your entries and to return to the “Profile” window.
Tasker will show you the automatic system that you have created. Thanks to the meaningful names that you used for the context and for the task, the description of this automatic system is very easy to understand: "At home -> WLAN on". Such clear descriptions are very useful so that you can quickly understand the function of your automatics even after a few days or weeks have passed. (Tap the name of the automation to show or hide the description.)

3 | So your smartphone knows that it should turn on the WiFi function when you get home. Now also make it clear to the device that it should switch the WiFi function off again when you leave home.
Long tap on the first task ("WLAN on") and select the entry "Add output task" in the menu that appears. In the “Outgoing task” menu, tap the “New task” button and enter the name “WLAN off” in the “New task name” dialog box.
You are now back in the "Edit task" window, which you already know. Create a new task there that turns off the WiFi function. So tap the “Network” and “Wi-Fi” buttons again, but switch on the “Off” option instead of the “On” option in the “Edit Action” dialog box. Press the back button twice to return to the “Profiles” window. There, Tasker now shows you in the description of the context "home" what happens when you come home or leave there.

4 | Would you like to test the functionality of the created tasks? Nothing easier than that: In the "Profile" window tap on the task "WLAN on". In the "Edit task" window you can tap the triangular button in the lower left corner to call up the function of this task manually. So when you tap this button, your smartphone should turn on its WiFi functionality. And the same button in the “Edit task” window of the “WLAN off” task should switch off the WLAN function.

SCENARIO II

Automatically turn off the screen lock at home - and turn it on when you're out.

On the go, the screen lock with its password protection is almost indispensable. At home, on the other hand, it is unnecessary and annoying to have to enter the password every time you want to use the smartphone. So, with the help of Tasker, you get the device to automatically turn off the screen lock when you're at home. Tasker recognizes that you are at home by the fact that your smartphone is connected to your wireless router. If you also consider your workplace to be a safe place where no password protection is necessary, then you can of course also let the app react to the router there. This is a nice example of the fact that you can use Tasker to program functions for which you would otherwise have to install additional (sometimes paid) additional software.

1 | Create a new profile in the "Profile" window. (Exactly: by tapping the plus button.) Use a context of the type "Status". In the “Select Status Category” dialog box, tap the “Network” button - and in the “Select Network Status” dialog box, tap the “WiFi Connected” button.

2 | In the "Edit status" window, enter the SSID (i.e. the network name) of your wireless router in the "SSID" field. You don't know that name by heart? No problem: just tap the magnifying glass symbol to the right of the "SSID" field. The app will then show you a list of all WiFi routers that are in your area. Select your router from this list. Then tap the back button to return to the “Profile” window.

3 | Now you have to specify what the smartphone should do when it is connected to your WLAN router: In the menu "Task input" that appears automatically, tap the "New task" entry.
In the “New Task Name” dialog box, enter a name such as “Screen lock off”. In the "Edit task" window you can add a new action to this task (by tapping the plus button).
In the “Action Category” dialog window, tap the “Display” button and in the “Select Action Display” dialog window, tap the “Key lock” button. The “Off” option must be activated in the “Edit Action” window. Press the back button twice to confirm your entries and to return to the “Profiles” window.

4 | Now you have to make sure that the smartphone reactivates the screen lock when you are no longer at home. In the “Profile” window, tap on the first task (“Screen lock off”) and select the “Add output task” entry in the menu that then appears. In the “Outgoing task” menu, tap the “New task” button and give this task a name such as “Screen lock”. In the "Edit task" window, add a new action to this task as usual (via the plus button). First tap the “Display” button in the “Action category” dialog box and then the “Key lock” button in the “Select action display” dialog box. In the “Edit Action” window, switch on the “On” option instead of the “Off” option. Pressing the back button twice then brings you back to the “Profiles” window.

5 | In the “Profile” window, Tasker shows you in the description of the “WiFi Connected” profile how the smartphone behaves when it is connected to your WiFi router - or when this connection is no longer available.

6 | You can test the newly created automatic system as follows: Make sure that you have set a “Screen lock” in the “Settings” program “Security”. Manually deactivate the WiFi function of your smartphone. (Via a widget, with the help of an icon in the notification bar or with the “Settings” option “WLAN”.) Then switch the smartphone screen off with the on / off button and then on again. The device should ask for the password as usual after switching on. Now activate the WiFi function of the smartphone and let the device connect to your WiFi router. Turn the screen off and then on again. Since the smartphone knows that you are at home because of the existing connection to your router, it does not ask you for your password. Comfortable, isn't it?

SCENARIO III

Launch the music app when you plug in the headphones.

Tasker can also query whether additional devices are connected to the smartphone. You can use this ability, for example, to automatically start the music app when you connect the headphones to the smartphone.

1 | As usual, create a new profile in the "Profile" window with a context of the type "Status". In the “Select Status Category” dialog box, tap the “Hardware” button - and in the “Select Hardware Status” dialog box, click the “Headset Connected” button.

2 | In the “Edit Status” window, the “All” option is selected in the “Type” area. That's a good thing, because it means that the automatic system reacts to all types of headsets - those with and those without a microphone. The back button then brings you back to the "Profile" window.

3 | In the "Profile" window you create a new task with the name "Start music", for example. In the "Edit task" window, you then add an action to this task (again, of course, by tapping the plus button). In the “Action Category” dialog window, tap the “App” button and in the “Select Action App” dialog window, tap the “Load application” button. Then you can either select the “Play Music” app or another music player in the “App selection” window. You can exit the automatically appearing "Edit Action" window without any further input using the back button.

4 | You can also add a task that will terminate the music playback program when you pull the headphone plug out of the smartphone. For this purpose, Tasker provides the action "App - Quit application". However, closing apps does not work on unrooted smartphones - and unfortunately usually not on rooted devices either.However, in many situations, a useful alternative to quitting an app is simply to return to the home page. To do this, tap on the first task ("Start music") in the "Profile" window for a long time and select the "Add output task" entry in the menu that appears to create a new task with the name "Home". In the "Edit task" window, first tap the plus button and then the "App" and "Show home screen" buttons. Tapping the back button twice brings you back to the “Profile” window as usual.

5 | Test whether the newly created automatic system works: Connect the headphones to the smartphone - and then remove them again.

6 | Fortunately, a Tasker task can contain more than one action. Take advantage of this fact to get the smartphone to automatically lower the volume when you plug in the headphones to protect your ears - and turn it up again when you remove the headphones. So tap the first task (“Start music”) in the “Profile” window to get to the “Edit task” window. This window already contains an action called “Load application”. Tap the plus button to add another action.
In the “Action Category” dialog box, tap the “Sounds” button and in the “Select Action Sounds” dialog box, tap the “Media Volume” button.
Then use the “Level” slider in the “Edit Action” window to set a low volume (for example, the volume with the value 3). The back button brings you back to the "Edit task" window. There you will now see a list of both actions that the smartphone carries out when you connect headphones.

7 | Isn't it also necessary to add an action to the Home task that increases the volume when the headphones are removed? No, because it happens automatically. Why? Because this profile uses a “status” context. So if you remove the headphones, the status condition "Headset Connected" no longer applies - and Tasker automatically resets the volume to the original value.

Scenario IV

Mute your smartphone in the evening and at the weekend.

It is relatively easy to ensure that your smartphone does not bother you with ringtones at certain times. As follows:

1 | In the "Profile" window, create a new profile with a context of the type "Time". In the "Edit time" window, you can specify the times at which the smartphone should be silent - for example, from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am.

2 | The back button brings you back to the "Profile" window. There you select the “New Task” button in the “Task Input” menu and give this new task the name “Mute”. In the “Edit task” window, add an action to the “Sounds” category. In the dialog window “Select action sounds” you tap the button “Silent”. In the “Edit Action” window, switch on the “On” option.

3 | Back in the "Profile" window, you still have to make sure that Tasker switches the ringtones on again after the specified idle period has elapsed. So tap on the newly created task "Mute on" for a long time and select the entries "Add output task" and "New task" in the menus that appear. Name the new task "Mute Off".
you probably already guessed it: In the "Edit task" window you add another "Sounds" action. In the dialog window "Choose action sounds" you tap on the button "Silent". And in the “Edit Action” window, switch on the “Off” option.

4 | You can use not only the time but also the day of the week to start tasks - for example, to avoid ringing tones for the entire weekend. Use a “tag” context for this purpose.

MORE SCENARIOS

  • Get the smartphone to only switch on data synchronization if it can access the Internet via WLAN. This will prevent apps from synchronizing their data over the cellular network. For this purpose, use the "Status" context "Network - WiFi Connected" and the action "Network - Auto-Sync".
  • Specify which apps the smartphone can automatically rotate the screen for and which apps not. You can do this with the "App" context and the "Display" action "Display Alignment".
  • Open the camera app by shaking the smartphone. Use the “Event” context “Sensor - Shaken” and the “Load application” action.
  • Get a spoken notification when the battery is fully charged. You can do this with the “Status” context “Charge - Battery level” and the “Other - Read aloud” action.
  • Block access to an app with password protection. Use the "App" context and the "Display" action "Lock" for this purpose.
  • Would you like to turn off the ringtones by placing your smartphone face down? You can do this with the "Status" context "Sensor - Alignment" (option "Display below") and the "Sounds" action "Silent".
  • Make sure that the smartphone automatically establishes a Wi-Fi connection when certain apps are started (e.g. browser or e-mail). Use the “App” context and the “Network” action “Wi-Fi” for this purpose.
  • You can take a photo as follows by tapping a widget directly from the start page of your smartphone - without having to open the camera app first: Create a new task called "Take a photo" in the "Tasks" window. Add the "Media - Photo" action to it. In the "Edit Action" window, select the "Name Sequence" option "Chronological" to add the date and time to the names of the photos. Activate the "Standalone" option if you do not want the smartphone to display the user interface of the camera app while recording. You can also set the resolution of the photo and the use of the photo light. Finally, add the “Task Shortcut” widget to your start page and select the “Take a photo” task in the “Select task” dialog box.

Hartmut Schumacher editor

Hartmut is very fond of smartphones and tablets. However, he also thought digital watches were a pretty great invention. He sees dashes as a useful means of structuring - and only occasionally writes about himself in the third person.