The Task Mode field indicates whether a task is scheduled manually (manually scheduled task: This type of task can be placed anywhere in the schedule without Project rescheduling it; it does not move as related information about the task changes.) or automatically (automatically scheduled task: This type of task is scheduled using Project's scheduling engine, taking into account task constraints, dependencies, project calendars, and resource calendars.), which gives you the option of deciding how much control you want over task scheduling in a project. By default, tasks are set as manually scheduled, with a start date, finish date, and duration that you define. Microsoft Project will never change the dates of a manually scheduled task, but you might see warnings if there are potential problems with the entered values. You can change a task to be automatically scheduled, which causes Project to schedule the task based on dependencies, constraints, calendars, and other factors.
Data Type Yes/No (Yes/No field: A type of field with content set to either Yes or No; also known as a Boolean field or a True/False field. For example, the Recurring field indicates whether the task is a recurring task.)
Entry Type Entered (entered field: A field in which you may type or edit information. This is in contrast with a calculated field, in which Project calculates and enters information.)
Best Uses You can manually schedule or automatically schedule all tasks throughout the life of a project. For example, during the proposal phase, you might want to manually schedule all tasks in your project, and then switch to automatic scheduling after the proposal has been accepted and the project is about to start. You can manually schedule certain sets of tasks while all other tasks are automatically scheduled.
The Task Mode field is included by default next to the Task Name field on all task-based sheet views, including the Gantt Chart. It displays an icon indicating whether a task is a placeholder, a manually scheduled task, or an automatically scheduled task.
To change the task mode, click in the field. In the list that appears, click Manually Scheduled or Auto Scheduled. You can also select specific tasks, then on the Task tab, in the Schedule group, click Manually Schedule or Auto Schedule.
Example You set up a preliminary Project plan that’s still in the proposal stage. You have a vague idea of major milestone (milestone: A reference point marking a major event in a project and used to monitor the project's progress. Any task with zero duration is automatically displayed as a milestone; you can also mark any other task of any duration as a milestone.) dates but not much detail. You build tasks and milestones using the Manually Scheduled task mode. The proposal is accepted and the work items and deliverable (deliverable: A tangible and measurable result, outcome, or item that must be produced to complete a project or part of a project. Typically, the project team and project stakeholders agree on project deliverables before the project begins.) dates become increasingly defined. You continue to manually schedule those tasks and dates. As certain phases become well-defined, you decide to switch the tasks in those phases to the Auto Scheduled task mode. By letting Project handle the complexities of scheduling, you can focus your attention on those phases that are still under development.
Remarks Although the default task mode is Manually Scheduled, you can change it for all new tasks. On the Task tab, in the Schedule group, click Task Mode, and then click Auto Schedule. All new tasks entered in this project will have a default task mode of Automatically Scheduled.
The Task Mode field displays a list of Auto Scheduled and Manually Scheduled, making it appear as an Enumerated (enumerated field: A type of field whose content is selected from a list of predefined choices. For example, in the Accrue At field you can select the way resource costs are accrued from a list that includes Start, Prorated, and End.) data type. However, Project sees this field as a Yes/No data type. If the task is manually scheduled, the task has a Task Mode value of Yes or True. If the task is automatically scheduled, the Task Mode value is No or False.
Tasks from plans created in earlier versions of Project have a default task mode of Auto Scheduled.
Although the Task Mode field shows the Placeholder icon, you cannot select Placeholder as a task mode. Project identifies as a placeholder any manually scheduled task that has insufficient information in at least two of the start, finish, or duration fields.