Scene creation is actually an advanced topic that deserves its own separate tutorial, but I’ll briefly talk about it here for the sake of completeness.


A scene is a custom user interface that you build from scratch. It can use elements that you usually find on UIs, including such elements as buttons, doodles, images, maps, menus, shapes (e.g., ovals, rectangles), sliders, text boxes, text input fields, and web viewer boxes. Each element is customizable.

For demonstration purposes, I’ll show you how to create a simple popup box that displays an SMS message when it arrives.

  1. Open the Scenes tab in Tasker.
  2. Add/Create a new scene. Provide a name for it. In this example, I’ll use “PopSMS” as scene name.
  3. You’ll see the Scene Edit screen in Preview Mode, with a dotted box in the middle. The dotted box is your scene display area. You can resize this, if you want. You can also change the background color of the display area, if you want. For now, let’s just stick to the default.
  4. To be able to add UI elements to the display area, you need to switch to Editing Mode by tapping the magnifier with an X at the lower-right corner. Then, hold down on the display area to bring up the UI elements menu.
  5. Tap on Text to add a text box to the display area. Keep its default name. In this text box we’ll display the text body. So, as value for Text, we specify a variable, specifically the variable for the body of an SMS message. Tap the tags icon at the right of the Text label, scroll down, and tap “Text Body.” You should find %SMSRB as the value for Text.
  6. Tap the virtual Back button to return to the Scene Edit screen.
  7. We’d like to show the name of the sender, too. So, let’s add another text box to display the sender’s name. Just follow the same procedure for adding a text box to display the SMS text body, but for Text value, choose “Text From Name.” You should see the variable %SMSRN as the value for Text.
  8. Again, tap the virtual Back button to return to the Scene Edit screen.
  9. Finally, we’d like to add a button to close the popup box after the message is read:
    1. Select “Button” from the list of UI elements. Just keep the button’s default name.
    2. For Label, you can use “OK,” “Done,” or “Close.”
    3. Then, specify the action to perform when this button is tapped. For that, switch to the Tap tab. Then, tap Add > Scene > Destroy Scene. This action, of course, does what it says — it will destroy the scene that you specify in the Name field. Choose “PopSMS” as the scene to destroy. It should appear in the Name field.
  10. Tap the virtual Back button until you’re back at the main Tasker screen. You should be able to find PopSMS on the Scenes tab.


Displaying a scene

So far, I’ve only shown you the scene creation part. That scene will be useless unless it is shown or displayed. So, we need to create a task for displaying the said scene. Then, the task needs to be linked to a context; in this case, the context will be an event, specifically, the event where the phone receives a text message.

  1. Open the Tasks tab. Create a new task by tapping the Add button (plus sign) at the lower-right corner. Name the task anything you want. In this example, I name it “ShowText.” Tap the checkmark to save the name.
  2. On the Task Edit screen, tap the Add Action button (plus sign). Then, tap Scene > Show Scene.
  3. On the Action Edit screen, tap the magnifier icon at the right side of Name and select “PopSMS,” which is the name of the scene that we created earlier.
  4. From the drop-down list under Display As, select ” Dialog, Dim Behind Heavy.” This will cause the scene to be shown as a dialog box, with everything behind it dimmed heavily.
  5. Tap the virtual Back button until you reach Tasker’s main screen. You should be able to see “ShowText” listed on the Tasks tab. The task now needs to be linked to a context in order to execute it.
  6. Open the Profiles tab. Create a new profile and context by tapping the plus button at the lower-right of the screen. Select Event > Phone > Received Text. Just leave the default event settings as they are for now.
  7. Tap the virtual Back button to return to the main screen. You’ll be shown a popup list of tasks to link to the new context and profile. Select “ShowText” from the list.
  8. Make sure that the newly created profile is enabled so that Tasker can execute the associated task when triggered.

The example above, of course, is a very rough one. But, if you have the time and the patience, you can refine it further. Tasker lets you tweak a lot of the details.

Using variables

If you’ve ever done some programming before, you’ll be familiar with the concept of variables. They’re close kin to variables that you keep hearing about in algebra class. To define it simply, a variable is a name for a value that changes over time.

Just like scene creation, Tasker variables are also complex topics that deserve their own separate tutorials. I’ll talk briefly about them, though, just to let you know what immense power you’ll get if you just patiently climb the steep hill of learning how to use Tasker.


In the previous section about scene creation, you encountered two variables represented by %SMSRB and %SMSRN (for SMS Text Body and SMS Sender Name, respectively). These are examples of built-in variables that you can use in Tasker. You cannot set, create, or define these kinds of variables. (That’s why they’re called “built-in.”)

Tasker variables always begins with the percent (%) symbol. Variables in all uppercase are built-in variables. They are usually derived from system information, device states, or events. Some common examples are %TIME (current time), %DATE (current date), %BATT (current battery level), and %WIFI (whether Wi-Fi is enabled or not).

Aside from built-in variables, there are two other variable types: local and global. Both are user-defined and user-created. The main difference between them is that local variables can be used only within the task or scene in which they are created, defined, or used; global variables are accessible to all of Tasker. Another main difference is in capitalization: local variables use all lowercase but global variables have at least one uppercase letter in its name.

You’re nearly done with this general tutorial about Tasker. If you want to learn more about how to use Tasker, or review in a visual way what I’ve discussed so far, you can watch our video tutorial in the next section.

Edgar Cervantes
Edgar Cervantes has over 5 years of experience in tech journalism. Exploring the latest gadgets and constantly studying the industry are part of is daily drive. Regardless of what he is working on, you can be sure he is always trying his best to bring you the best content. He will be dead honest and will bend to nothing.
  • Excellent!

  • Joe Morrison

    Tasker is the first app I install on any android device. You can easily automate anything on your phone. Here are a couple of my tasks.

    -nightly Rsync of SD card to my server if the device is connected to my home WiFi and plugged in.

    -auto enable GPS anytime an app that requires GPS is launched.

    -disable screen lock, change volume, enable airplane mode, connect to wifi, change Google voice forwarding destination, register SIP account to my PBX… via task called from NFC tag

    -launch Spotify, disable screen lock, launch wave control, when headphones are detected.

    The list goes on and on… this app is totally worth it.

    • Stephen Ting

      how to Rsync of SD Card?

  • Kevin

    Excellent breakdown, you explained each component of Tasker beautifully. Hopefully it will encourage more people to give it a try. Well done!

  • Mr_Je11yman

    Tasker is intimidating, but you warm up to it really fast, so I encourage everyone to try it. I am just a basic Tasker user (so far) and I have already set it to do the following:

    Turn off bluetooth, disable screen lock, enable wi-fi when I pull into my driveway

    Silence ALL volume on my phone the minute I get to church on Sunday, and restore all volume levels after I leave

    Since I leave my phone on all the time I have my volumes reduced to 20% at night and no notifications, so if I get an emergency call at least it won’t shock me awake.

    Reminds me to take the trash out on trash day

  • Sudeepto Dutta

    This app separates Android from all the OS …

    Really worth paying for this one

  • Nacos

    Hat’s off to you, Elmer for writing this article. Advanced and beginners alike, should give Tasker much more attention than it currently gets. It truly deserves it! Android + Tasker is a very, very, very powerful combination and once the basics are covered, the sky is the limit. I remember once reading a comment in Google Play from somebody complaining that Tasker was too expensive at $6.99. When one truly reveals its potential, this amount apears ridiculously trivial – in parallel software universes Tasker could easily be compared to Adobe Photoshop, which happens to cost just a “little” more than merely $6.99.

  • Guy De Vos

    Tasker is by far the most useful app I’ve ever purchased. This app alone makes the whole iOS vs Android debate seem ridiculous. Android wins, no matter what anybody says.

    • Mandy Jhons

      Agree with your assertions. Its a piece of crap for me in new year 2015 too.

  • Very nice guide, Tasker can be a little complicated for a lot of users. Thanks for writing this.

  • brian robinson

    i had tasker for quite a while got it on sale.

    never used it though i knew it was good purchase at the time,

    i am absolutely gobsmacked this this thing is the bomb duffer.
    just wish there was more tutorials like this thanx.

  • Leonid Joseph

    Will it allow me to auto record all phone calls in my Samsung Galaxy chat. No auto call recording software works with the Chat. And it is legally ok to record here. Please reply fast. Thanks in advance.

  • Philip DiDomenico

    Excellent job. This is the clearest explanation of Tasker I’ve seen.

  • kyoshi

    Help! How can I use Tasker to allow bluetooth voice dialing when screen is locked? (kenwood receiver, Samsung S4)

    • Mekhs

      Refer its FAQ on Google play store. Like its also for star sports live over there. Check that and enjoy.

  • Siddharth

    The science way to say this look they have given us a PCB special

  • Kal Goop

    Can anyone tell help me on adding this task on Tasker?
    I want that Tasker checks for any alarms in my phone and according to the time of alarm it would set silent mode from one hour before alarm.
    After the alarm rings, profile automatically gets shifted to general.
    This will help me sleep without interruptions.
    Thank you in advance.

  • sri charan

    Tasker is extremely powerful but not very user-friendly….
    AutomateIt is not so robust but is very user-friendly…..
    MacroDroid is somewhere between….Its powerful and userfriendly….

    If tasker is too complex for anyone I advise you to get MacroDroid…..

  • Rachel

    I’m a complete newbie to Tasker and to programming in general. Have read through this guide and looked up a few other bits and decided to try a wallpaper changing profile. At first I downloaded a profile someone else had built but I couldn’t understand which bits to modify to suit my needs so I deleted it and tried from scratch.

    The bit I’m really struggling with is variables. I have a profile set to time a task every 2 min. The task is set to launch an image to wallpaper from the correct location. My issue is that I currently have my task set to choose only one specific image (which works – I just have the same image flashing repeatedly every 2 min though). I understand that I need to create an appropriate variable to look at all the images in the set folder rather than just pointing towards one specific image.

    I understand that a variable is something that changes either through my control or constantly and consistently such as the time. However I don’t know how to make a variable to cycle through the given folder to change the image and how I link this in with my current task.

    I know I’m asking here for one specific piece of advice (which you hate) but I’m hoping if I am able to trial how to use a variable here I’ll be able to apply that knowledge in other tasks.
    Thanks for taking the time to read this.

  • Chris Jones

    I have no questions — just a comment. Great guide!! Just bought Tasker for a couple of specific purposes and found this guide to be the quickest, most straight-forward tutorial to get those things done.