Tasker is one of the most powerful apps on the Play Store for automating tasks on your smartphone, but it’s far from the easiest to get to grips with, which is where this guide comes in. We’ll flatten the learning curve a little for you, so you can dive in and start creating automations and functions as quickly as possible, with the minimum of fuss or confusion.
For the completely uninitiated, Tasker — which does cost $3.49 — lets you add extra customizations and automations to Android phone. It combines triggers (such as reaching a location, or opening up a particular app) with actions (so turning off Wi-Fi, or boosting screen brightness). The possibilities are almost limitless, provided you can get your head around it to begin with.
Perhaps the best way of explaining Tasker is to give some examples of what it can do: it can start playing podcasts when your phone connects to your car stereo, it can reply to a “where are you?” text with your GPS location, it can turn on your smart lights at sunset, it can pause background music playback when a particular app is open (and resume it afterwards), and so on and so on.
Here we’ll guide you through the key Tasker concepts and features you need to know about, as briefly and succinctly as we can, and then give you a task you can set up from scratch — that should then give you the confidence to start playing around with the software on your own.
The Tasker screen
Download and open Tasker, and don’t let yourself be daunted: it’s simpler than it looks. Let’s start with the Tasks tab, second from the left: tasks are just actions or groups of actions you want to be carried out, such as muting the volume, launching an app, or turning off Bluetooth. Tasks can be launched automatically or manually (with a press on a widget, for example), and you can combine them together in all kinds of interesting ways.
For automated launching, there’s the Profiles tab on the far left. This tab holds what are called contexts — conditions that need to be met for certain tasks to run. Those conditions could be the time of day, or the GPS location of your phone, or whatever (Tasker can recognize a dizzying number of conditions). Profiles are basically containers for one or more contexts, and once they’re all met, the specified task starts. If you’re launching all your tasks manually, you don’t need profiles.
If you’re confused already, say that you wanted your Android phone to turn on your smart lights when you got home, as long as it’s past a certain time of day. Your phone’s location and the time would be the contexts stored in the profile, and turning on the lights would be the action stored as a task (tasks can in fact include several actions, so you could have muting your phone and turning on the lights included in the same task). You can create tasks first (they can stand alone, remember), or create profiles first — it’s this sort of flexibility that makes Tasker so useful, once you get a feeling for how it all fits together.
To the right of Tasks is the Scenes tab. Scenes are bits of user interface that you’ve created yourself, like a pop-up dialog that displays a “good morning” message, or a button you need on screen. It’s something you can usually ignore while you’re getting to grips with Tasker, and come back to later if you want to dig deeper into what the app is capable of. Say you want a task that adjusts brightness, for example: you could throw up a scene with a slider so that the brightness can be set precisely.
Finally, to the right of Scenes is Vars or variables — like scenes, these are for more advanced users, and let you turn tasks into short programs. One commonly used variable is the date, for example, represented as %DATE: if you wanted to display the current date on screen, that’s the text string to use. Variables can be pulled from the device, or users can be prompted for variables (“how long should the timer last?”), or they can be obtained from various other sources.
Whichever tab you’re on, you create new entries with the big plus button, bottom right. You’ll then be prompted for a name for the new task or scene, and it’s a good idea to give everything a recognizable name, even when you don’t necessarily have to: that way, you can better understand what’s going on later.
Creating a profile
Now that you hopefully understand the basic components of Tasker, we’ll create a profile to mute social media apps when you open them, without affecting the volume for streaming apps like Netflix or Spotify. As you work through it, you should get a better idea of how Tasker works and how profiles and tasks all fit together.
The idea behind this Tasker profile is that you sometimes want to scroll through social media feeds (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) without audio suddenly blaring out from a video that gets automatically played. When you turn to something you do specifically want to watch or listen to, such as a podcast, the volume will remain as normal.
So we start on the Profiles tab: Tap the Plus icon (lower right) then Application, as an application will be the trigger for the mute action. Choose as many apps as you need (you could mute games instead of social media apps, if you wanted), then tap the back arrow in the top left corner.
With your apps selected, you’ll see you’re already being prompted to tap New Task, so do that — this is the action Tasker will take when the context (one of the selected apps is open) is met. Give your task a name (like “silence”), then tap the Tick icon.
As we mentioned above, a task can in fact have multiple actions, just as a profile can have multiple contexts and tasks. Don’t worry too much about this now, but it helps to build up the sort of sophisticated triggers and actions that can make Tasker seem like magic. For now, tap the plus icon (lower right) to add a new action, then pick Audio.
Choose Media Volume (for our social media videos), and set the level to zero, if it isn’t already. The other settings here let you show something on screen and initiate a sound as well, or add in an extra condition if you need one, but they’re not necessary for the simple example we’re creating here. Tap the back arrow (top left) to go back.
The media volume will now be muted as soon as you open Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever apps you’ve decided to select. To restore the original volume back again when you exit out of these chosen apps, go back to the Profiles tab, long press on the profile name, then tap the cog icon and check the box marked Restore Settings. This basically reverses every change you’ve made when the contexts are no longer met.
It’s worth mentioning here that profiles can have exit tasks (actions that are run when the profile conditions stop being met) as well as entry tasks (actions that are run when the profile conditions are met, like certain apps opening). To create one, just long press on the right-hand side of a profile. A lot of the time though, especially for simpler profiles, the Restore Settings option will work just fine.
Creating your own profiles
With one profile and task, we really have just scratched the surface of what Tasker is capable of, but you should now at least understand how profiles and tasks work, and how Tasker fits them together. We’d encourage you to experiment, especially in looking through all the contexts that Tasker can detect, and all the settings it can change in response.
Try creating a new profile but instead of using apps as the context, pick something else like a time of day or a location you’ve arrived at; instead of setting up a mute action, try changing the device wallpaper or playing an audio file (yes, you really can have your phone make an applauding sound when you walk in the front door). For wallpaper, for example, choose Display then Set Wallpaper when you’re creating the action.
Ultimately, Tasker will reward the time and investment you put into it. You won’t master it in five minutes, but it’s more accessible than it looks — once you’re over the first few hurdles, you’ll start to see how intuitive and how powerful Tasker can be. Other ideas to try out with Tasker include applying custom settings when your battery hits a particular level, turning screen rotation off for particular apps, reading texts out loud, and putting your phone into silent mode when it’s logged onto the office Wi-Fi.
We’ve also documented the whole process above in this video you can check out below.
From what we’ve explained so far, you should be able to at least get started on any of those ideas, and if you get stuck then there’s a wealth of help and advice on the web. In terms of official support, check out Example Use Cases for Tasker and the Tasker Forums on the official Tasker website.