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How to Create a Repeating Alarm in Windows 7 Without Extra Software

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If you work on a computer all day, you might forget to get up now and then to stretch. To avoid your neck seizing up and your eyes bugging out, you can set an alarm to remind yourself to get up every so often.

There are all kinds of third-party tools that allow you to set reminders for yourself, but you can also use the Windows built-in Task Scheduler.

To open the Task Scheduler, open the Start menu and type “task scheduler” (without the quotes) in the Search box. Press Enter when the Task Scheduler is highlighted in the results, or click on it.

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In the Task Scheduler, click Create Task in the Actions pane on the right.

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The Create Task dialog box displays. On the General tab, enter a Name for the task.

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First, we’ll create a trigger to cause something to happen that alerts us. Click the Triggers tab and click New at the bottom of the tab.

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The New Trigger dialog box displays. First, select when to Begin the task. We’re going to set a schedule to alert us every hour during our workday, so we select On a schedule from the drop-down list. You can also set tasks to begin at specific times, such as when the computer starts up, when certain users log on, or when the workstation locks or unlocks.

In the Settings box, we’ll define the days and the starting time for the task. To set up the task to get triggered every weekday, select Weekly from the set of radio buttons on the left. Then, if you work Monday through Friday, select the check boxes for those days and enter 1 in the Recur every edit box. This will run the task every week on every weekday.

We also need to indicate what time to run the task for the first time each day. To do this, select a date to start from the Start popup calendar and enter a time in the time edit box. You can also use the up and down arrows on the time edit box to select a time.

In the Advanced settings section, select the Repeat task every check box and select a time from the drop-down list. If the desired time is not listed, enter the time in a format that matches the format of the current options. We selected “1 hour,” but if you want to be alerted every two hours, enter “2 hours” (without the quotes) in the edit box. By default, the task will run every hour an entire day. To cause the task to run repeatedly only until the end of the workday, select an option from the for a duration of drop-down list. Again, if the option you want is not available, enter it manually. In our case, we wanted to specify 8 hours, which was not an option. So, we entered “8 hours” (without the quotes) in the edit box.

Make sure the Enabled check box is selected at the bottom of the New Trigger dialog box, and click OK.

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The new trigger displays in the list on the Triggers tab.

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Now, we need to select the action that will occur every time the task is triggered to alert us. Click the Actions tab and click New at the bottom of the tab.

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The New Action dialog box displays. You can choose to Start a program, Send an e-mail, or Display a message. We want a message to display on the screen, so we select Display a message from the Action drop-down list. Enter a Title for the message box that will display on the title bar of the dialog box. Then, enter a Message to display on the dialog box. Click OK.

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The new action displays in the list on the Actions tab. You can have multiple actions occur when a task is triggered, and you can use the arrow buttons on the right to specify the order in which they happen.

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For example, you can have the workstation lock automatically when the task is triggered, forcing you to stop work. To do this, select Start a program from the Action drop-down list. Enter the following line in the Program/script edit box.

c:\windows\system32\rundll32.exe

Then, enter the following line in the Add arguments edit box.

user32.dll, LockWorkStation

Click OK.

NOTE: We decided not to have the workstation automatically lock us out. It can be startling and frustrating to get forcefully interrupted like that. A dialog box is a little less intrusive. However, it’s up to you.

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Once you have added all the actions you want to happen when the task gets triggered, click OK.

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Your new task should display in the list in the center of the Task Scheduler dialog box when you click on Task Scheduler Library in the left pane. To test the task, right-click on it and select Run.

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Our dialog box displays with an OK button to close it. That’s what we’ll see every hour to remind us to get up from our desk.

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To close the Task Scheduler, select Exit from the File menu.

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This trick can be very useful if you tend to work for hours on end without getting up. However, there is a drawback to using the Task Scheduler. There is no snooze function. If you are very involved in your work, you might close the dialog box, or even log back in from the lock screen and continue to work, ignoring the reminder to take a break.

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 08/1/12

Comments (8)

  1. r

    I never need a reminder to get away from my computer

  2. Riddler

    Is there any way to get the dialog box to open on top of everything?

  3. Keith

    If I want anything along these lines, there is CookTimer, or CoolTimer. They are similar, tho one has a few more bells on it.

  4. xXMXx

    is there any way to shutdown or sleep or disconnect internet on a exact time?

  5. Allan

    I’m using Vista there’s a problem with the popup message not showing up on top of other windows When the popup message appear I always have to click the taskbar button to see the popup message. any fix for this problem I’m having?

  6. sam weller

    thank you Lori, very useful for me

  7. Ray

    I use the task scheduler for my alarm clock. I have set it for workdays and have multiple triggers (snooze). My action plays an MP3 file that starts quiet but gets louder & louder. If I have a day off I just simply turn off my speakers!

  8. Quinn

    i choose the Action with ‘send an-email’ and always fail
    how come?

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