Beginner’s guide to Tasker, part 0: How to go about learning Tasker


Pocketables has turned into a major hub for Tasker content over the last year, and there are currently more than a hundred Tasker articles on the site, including a huge beginner’s guide. With that many articles covering all sorts of topics in a sometimes less than organized manner, I thought I would dedicate a post to talking about how one would even go about learning Tasker to begin with, place it numerically before the first part of the beginner’s guide that talks about actual Tasker functionality.

What is Tasker?

Tasker is an automation app for Android. It’s similar to apps like on{x} and Locale, but quite frankly, those apps are toys in comparison to Tasker. The basic concept with Tasker is “if X happens, do Y,” where the ridiculous number of Xs and Ys available making it as complex as it is. An example of a relatively simple Tasker setup is “if the phone is put upside down while ringing, mute the sound,” but the sky is the limit for how complex something can be. In fact, through features such as scene (interface) creation and app exports, Tasker is capable of producing fully functional, standalone Android apps.

Why should I learn Tasker?

Learning Tasker is guaranteed to revolutionize how you use you Android device. Android and its apps, like other OSes and basically any consumer product in general, are essentially all about making compromises so that the end result works well for as many people as possible. Tasker gives you the ability to custom tailor your device the way you want it, so that you’re not forced to use some lowest common denominator product.

I personally have replaced a lot of actual apps with Tasker creations I have made myself, and custom made those to fit my exact needs. I have a custom voice assistant, custom UI for controlling both my phone and my apartment, custom todo list app, custom smartwatch software, and so much more. Tasker is all about allowing you to do whatever you want, and not have to rely on someone making it for you or settling for apps that have half the features you actually want.

At this point, I don’t even consider my phone to be running Android, I consider it to be running Tasker. Tasker is to Android what Android is to a feature phone from 2001, it’s as simple as that.

How long will it take me to learn Tasker?

That depends on what your goal is. If your goal is to set up a single simple profile that combines one “if X happens” with one “then do Y”, that might not take you more than five minutes. If your goal is to go all out and learn how to do practically anything you want with Tasker, including creating your own apps, we’re talking months to years. Tasker shares a lot of similarities with programming, in that you can produce a “hello world” fairly quickly, but it will take a while until you can replicate Photoshop. It’s a continuous journey of getting better every time you use it, and while the more advanced stuff won’t be available to you straight away, a lot will.

Can anyone learn Tasker?

Like I mentioned above, Tasker shares some similarities with programming, but that’s by no means a prerequisite for learning it. Having an analytical mind that thrives on logical thinking will however help you a lot, and it doesn’t hurt if you’re creative either. The more experience you have with using software of any kind, the easier it will also be to use Tasker, because this is not an app that comes with a user manual, and so you have to be able to use common sense and just try to see what happens a lot of the time. Because of that, impatient people who expect everything to be handed to them should stay as far away from Tasker as possible.

One of the most common complaints I see with Tasker goes something like this: “I bought Tasker to do a single thing, but I can’t figure out how to do that single thing. There should be better documentation for how to do that single thing, as it’s such a simple thing that Tasker complicates.”

This is a typical complaint from someone who has misunderstood what Tasker is. Tasker can do simple things, but it can do a thousand different simple things. It’s a shell provided for the user to add content, it isn’t that content out of the box, since that would have been a seriously epic mess of pre-made profiles to cover 1000 variations of “a simple thing.” Tasker requires that you set up what you need to do from scratch, and the concept of “scratch” is very different from what you normally get with mobile apps. You don’t get a panel of settings that control Tasker’s car mode, you need to actually create that car mode by finding a way of telling Tasker when you’re in your car and what to do when you’re there. If Android apps were LEGOs, Tasker would be a giant box of different parts for creating anything, rather than a small box of the specific parts and instructions needed to build something specific.

Bottom line, learning Tasker takes time. If you’re not willing to put in that time, you shouldn’t get the app. It’s that simple. Buying the app doesn’t entitle you to have someone program it for you, and user error isn’t an application bug.

Where do I start?

The first part og the beginner’s guide to deal with actual Tasker functionality can be found here. An overview of all important Tasker articles on the site, including the rest of the beginner’s guide, can be found in our Tasker content portal.

The first thing you should do is read the first part of the beginner’s guide, and then actually look around the app to make sure you know what everything in the guide refers to in the app. Make sure you pay extra attention to the list of terms, as knowing what basic terms in Tasker refers to is vital. I often see people who use the wrong terms for things in Tasker, and not only does that make it impossible for them to find information they need on their own, but it also makes it so people have to guess what they’re talking about.

I would also strongly suggest that you don’t jump straight to any other part of the beginner’s guide after part 1, but instead play with Tasker and explore on your own. Exploring Tasker and simply looking at what’s available in terms of contexts and actions is vital for realizing what you can do with it. Simply playing with setting up simple profiles is a key part of the process. “I wonder what this does, let’s find out” is going to get you a lot further in the Tasker world than “where’s the documentation for all of this?!”, even though there is basic documentation of Tasker features both in the app and on the Tasker website.

Once you feel you have the hang of it, you can take on one part of the guide at a time. Each subsequent part of the guide deals with a very specific topic, and so treating them as chapters in a textbook is a good idea. Look at what’s there, then practice it yourself. There are tons of examples in those articles, but make sure you actually treat them as examples, not recipes. Some of them are outdated, incomplete, or have other issues that makes them usable as examples, but that’s about it.

The other articles on the content portal page are far less organized, and there’s really no “read this then that” system to it. Some of them require only very basic Tasker knowledge to understand, while others are more complicated. You can check out the list of articles and see if something looks interested, have a quick peak at it, and see if you’ve gotten to the point you need to be with your own “Tasker education” to actually get a use from it. There are also other places where you can read about Tasker, such as the official Google Group, but often those places have more help requests than actual examples and other things.

Bottom line, take it slow, and proceed at your own pace. Think of the beginner’s guide and the other articles as resources that you can use when you feel you’re ready for it, rather than material you have to digest before ever doing anything in Tasker yourself. I know it’s easy to be overwhelmed with all the features, but taking it slow is key. It can be very tempting to try to skip a few steps when you see Tasker creations from more experiences users online, but you really just have to think of those kinds of creations as the end goal.

I need help!

The vast possibilities of Tasker makes it a very attractive app to get a for a lot of people, but unfortunately a lot of those should be classified under the “impatient” category of people who should stay far away from Tasker. Asking for help is of course always an option, but more and more people treat the various Tasker help forums as places they can essentially ask people to do the job for them, and that’s not how it should be. I talk more about this issue and pitfalls of actually getting that kind of help in this post. Recipes and downloadable profiles sound great in theory, but often lead to more issues than they solve, which is why I tend to shy away from them.

Asking for help with Tasker really should be a last resort. Searching for information yourself and trying out different things should be your first priorities when you’re stuck, and I’ve even written a post with some tips and tricks for finding your own mistakes. I make a lot of mistakes with Tasker myself, and I can normally figure out what’s wrong by simply assuming that I did something wrong rather than assuming something’s broken or give up.

That being said, there’s a massive Tasker community out there that is willing to help anyone who has problems. All I ask is that you treat that as the privilege it is, not as a matter of course. You can also leave a comment on any article written by me on this site, and I will definitely read it. I normally reply to all intelligent questions, though I have been known to “forget” to reply to questions from people who went straight for the “help me” option.

Final thoughts

A lot of people come to Tasker thinking it’s like any other app, where you can essentially become an expert at it in no time at all. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Learning Tasker is an investment, requiring time, patience, and the willingness to learn how to do something yourself. It’s not for everyone, but for those who do stick with it, it’s well worth it.

Proceed to part 1 of the guide…

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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