Last week, we gave a quick overview of what Tasker can do for you Android users out there. Now let’s dive right in and see how to use this powerful tool.
Let’s start with the basics, which means a quick tour around the Tasker block.
When you run Tasker, it will stay running in the background. You’ll see it in the form of a tiny lightning bolt:
So what’s in the box? Let’s look at the different panes you’ll be working with in Tasker.
Here is the Profiles pane:
A Profile is a situation or circumstance. If you want your phone to do something, there must be something that triggers it. The Profiles pane is where you set up the relevant situations.
For instance, in the above example, I have something called “Flip mode” (the fourth entry). This profile involves what to do when the phone is face down, on a table for instance. (I set it to automatically mute the phone.)
Tasker has lots of possible triggers. It gives you access to info about whatever is happening to the phone, and most of these can act as triggers. Things like, if the phone rings, or if a message is received, or if a Wi-Fi hotspot is detected, the phone’s physical condition (upright, upside down, etc.), the date and time… the list goes on. If you’re thinking of a possible trigger for an action, chances are that Tasker already has it.
Notice the checkmarks too. These indicate that the profile is active. My second entry above, Christmas greetings, is currently inactive because, well, it’s a long way ’til Christmas. Actually it could be active and it won’t make a difference because the profile is set up to work only on Christmas day.
Next, let’s look at the heart of Tasker, the Tasks pane.
Tasks are the actual stuff that you want your phone to do. The third entry above, for instance (WiFi Settings), does nothing more than simply show the WiFi Settings menu of the phone. So the phone goes to that menu when I press a certain widget button.
You may also notice the fourth entry above, Christmas greets. These are the actual instructions for the phone to send greeting messages to specific people.
So you may think of it this way: Tasks are what to do, Profiles are when to do them. In the Christmas example, the Christmas greetings profile tells the phone to do something once Christmas rolls around, and that something would be the Christmas greets task.
There’s also a Scenes panel, below, but we won’t go into this for now. Suffice to say that scenes give you displays in which you can do lots of things. Kind of like windows.
And finally, the very important Variables panel:
Variables are very important because they give you stuff to interact with. How can you tell if your phone is rightside up or upside down? There’s a variable for it. How do you know if a call is coming in? There’s a variable for it. Who’s calling? You guessed it, there’s a variable for it.
There are two kinds of variables. First, there’s the system variables that tell you what’s going on in and around the phone; and then there’s the user-defined variables which, natch, you define yourself. Together, these variables give you powerful means for manipulating your phone.
Okay, now you’ve seen the panels where you’ll be maneuvering around in. In our next article, I’ll show you how to make a simple task. Yeah! And it’s about time!
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