Q: What options does Windows provide to attach automated actions, such as sending an email alert message, to events on a Windows machine?

A: In the Event Viewer that Microsoft includes in Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, and later OSs, you can easily attach an action to the occurrence of a particular event. When you create an action from the Event Viewer, Windows automatically creates the associated task in the Windows Task Scheduler.

To create an event-triggered action from Event Viewer, select Attach Task to this Event… in an event's context menu or the associated task in the Actions pane. Selecting this option will open the Create Basic Task Wizard, shown here. In the wizard, you can select one of three notification actions (Start a program, Send an e-mail, or Display a message) that will be executed when a particular event occurs.

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After you've successfully created the event-triggered action, a dialog box appears to inform you that a task has been added to Task Scheduler. From then on, you must use Task Scheduler to edit, disable, or delete the event-triggered action. Task Scheduler and the Event Viewer Tasks node that it uses to store event-triggered actions are shown here.

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Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 also support event triggers, but the functionality isn't integrated in the OS as nicely as it is in Vista, and these OSs require additional tools. Microsoft provides a tool called eventtriggers.exe in XP and Server 2003 that lets you define event-triggered actions from the command line. See this TechNet site for more on Eventriggers.exe.

Eventtriggers.exe requires you to use other programs if you want to automate certain actions. For example, if you want eventtriggers.exe to send an email message from the command line, you must use another tool, such as the Blat freeware tool, available for download at this site.

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