[Windows] Automatically perform an action when your system is idle with Watch 4 Idle

Watch 4 Idle UINo one is ever sitting at their computer 24/7, and no one can for that matter. That means there are times when your computer sits idle, not being used. Wouldn’t it be great if you could set your maintenance programs or alternate software to run while you’re not using your computer? What if you could automatically shut down the computer when it’s idle for more than ten minutes? Watch 4 Idle is a free windows application that will allow you to automatically perform various actions when your computer is idle.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

Watch 4 Idle will allow you to configure various functions and settings that automatically set into motion when your computer is idle after a certain period of time. Some of the things you can do include locking the computer, logging off the current user, shutting it down or executing a particular program. You can also configure what your computer does when it returns from being idle.

Pros

  • Incredibly straightforward and simple UI, all options are presented in a single window
  • Several options are pre-configured, but you can also execute a custom program or application
  • You can also assign functions to execute when the computer resumes from idle
  • The application minimizes and runs as a background process
  • It only uses roughly 10,000KB (9.7MB) of RAM while running

Cons

  • Watch 4 Idle Error CodeNeed to run the program as administrator, right click on the icon and select “run as administrator.” If you don’t want to do this every time you change the program to always run with admin access by properties > compatibility > run as admin (tick option).
    • If you don’t run as administrator you will get an error similar to “Unable to write to C:\Program Files…”
  • VirusTotal came up with the results 2/46 which is likely due to the bloatware offered in the install package. Make sure you pay attention when installing the software and disable the install of bloatware files by unchecking the necessary boxes
  • You can only designate idle time in seconds (up to a max of 9,999 which is about 2 hours and 47 minutes)

Discussion

Untick These OptionsThere are a few kinks we need to cover before we go over the software itself. First, when installing Watch 4 Idle, you need to make sure you pay attention. It prompts you to install bloatware, which you can easily prevent by unticking the necessary options (image to the right).

Second, you will get a strange error message if you do not provide the software with administrator rights. If you don’t know how to do this it’s pretty simple, just right click on the Watch 4 Idle icon and select “run as administrator.” Once you accept the permission request through the UAC prompt the program will load properly.

Once the program is up and running you’ll notice it’s actually very simple. All the application settings and functions are visible from within a single form or window.

Obviously the first setting you have to change is the idle time, which brings us to the biggest issue I have with the application. You have to designate the desired idle time in seconds, up to a maximum of “9999” seconds. That’s only about 2 hours and 47 minutes max. That means if you want to set a function to happen after say 3 hours, it’s not possible with Watch 4 Idle. Regardless, the first thing you need to do is designate a certain period of time in seconds that the system must be idle.

The first set of functions, are basically pre-configured system options. You can choose to do one of the following after the computer is idle:

  • Lock
  • Log off
  • Shutdown
  • Restart
  • Turn screen off
  • Execute a program or batch

The last option allows you to choose a particular program to run. For example, I have my main desktop set to load XBMC after the computer is idle for a certain period of time. This allows me to turn on the computer and load up a movie, which is what I use my current setup for most anyway.

You can also assign a task for when the computer returns from being idle, or when you interact with it again. Of course, the options for system resume are not so abundant.

  • Turn screen on
  • Execute a program or batch
  • Display a custom message

Watch 4 Idle Set UpWhen you’re done choosing your settings, it’s as easy as clicking “start” to get the idle monitor active. You can minimize the application to the system tray, as well. That means it runs as a background process, which brings us to the next point.

Watch 4 Idle is pretty light on system resources, as it never used more than 10,000KB of RAM while running during my tests. That’s especially notable because you don’t want your computer using a lot of resources while it’s supposed to be sitting idle.

There’s an additional option to auto start Watch 4 Idle when Windows starts up, which comes in handy. Personally, I don’t like to run too many applications at startup so I always leave this option disabled in all my programs.

Watch 4 Idle works great, and it performs exactly as advertised. After your system has been idle for the designated period of time, it will execute the function that you have assigned. The same goes for system resume. Unfortunately, the application must remain running in the background for the function to execute.

Conclusion and download link

Watch 4 Idle EnabledWatch 4 Idle is a straightforward and very simple application that allows you to assign various tasks and functions to execute after your system has been idle for a period of time. There are a couple of kinks  that you have to work through before using it, like the bloatware in the install package and setting it up to run with admin privileges. Once you get past the rough patches, it really is a gem. The only thing that I really dislike about the application itself is that you can only designate a period of time in seconds, up to a maximum of 9,999 which is really only about 2 hours and 25 minutes give or take. I like to leave my computer on so it would be nice to have longer intervals, but it’s not necessary for most. If you’re in the market for an app like this, I recommend giving Watch 4 Idle a try.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 1.0

Supported OS: Windows (XP, Vista, Seven)

Download size: 1.04MB

VirusTotal malware scan results: 2/46

Is it portable? No

Watch 4 Idle homepage

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16 comments

  1. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    [@naveed] Lol, touche.

    True, an aspect of it is that many people dont know about WTS. However, there is no denying that advanced functionality of WTS, such as running a task when comp is idle, has a learning curve. Aside from that, I think now that W4I doesnt require admin privileges sets it apart from WTS.

  2. naveed

    [@Crazy Duck]
    The windows scheduler has a trigger option for idle.

    [@Ashraf] That’s 3 words, Ashraf. ;) But it’s not ease of use, the Task Scheduler is quite simple to use, it’s not like a linux chron job. I think the real problem is people don’t know it exists.

  3. Crazy Duck

    Certainly not a scheduler. Will re-execute a program even if it’s already just done that at the previous default 25 sec idle.

    It’s very simple to use but I can’t think of any use I will have for it.

  4. michel

    [@naveed] Completely agree. Instead of just shilling, the reviews should compare the features to built-in capabilities. In this example, it took a commenter to point out that this functionality is already built-in. Not professional.

  5. MarkQ

    In fact, like pretty much all of Leelu Soft programs, Watch 4 Idle too is portable after a one-time installation as all one needs are the two files “W4I.exe”, which is a stand-alone executable, and “settings.cfg”, in which the program saves its settings (if it’s deleted, the program will start from scratch the next time and will automatically create it when closing). In order to avoid installation to get the executable, extract the contents of the installer using something like Universal Extractor, locate and rename (if you wish) the folder named {app} and copy to a location of your choice such as a USB flash drive and that’s it. By the way, the program doesn’t use the Windows Task Scheduler.
    P.S.: I love discovering useful freeware too. So, keep up the good work, Briley.

  6. Briley Kenney
    Author/

    [@Karl J. Gephart] I’ve never said anything like “this is really awesome get it now.” I won’t either because I understand that software is relative. Some people will find a use for something whereas others could care less about it.

    I always make it a point to mention what’s good about a particular application, what kind of person or user would enjoy it and whether or not I will continue using it (if that’s relevant).

    “Once you get past the rough patches, it really is a gem.”

    “If you’re in the market for an app like this, I recommend giving Watch 4 Idle a try.”

  7. Karl J. Gephart

    [@naveed] They need something to write about. I’ve learned to jump to the CONS first. These posts always start off like “This is really awesome software…unfortunately, it really sucks because…”

  8. Seamus McSeamus

    I’m with Frank; I enjoy discovering freeware that outperforms Windows native apps. Just because it’s included with Windows doesn’t mean it’s the best at what it does.

  9. Frank D

    I like to be informed of and have third-party freeware alternatives to all Windows built-in functions. To give just one example, I know that a certain free backup program (which I can name on request) that I use is so simple to set up and outperforms the built-in Windows Backup program by miles. I struggled with the WB program thinking that because it was built in it must be the right thing for Win 7. However, it was complicated and confusing to set up (just like Windows Task Scheduler) and it failed, even though I followed the instructions carefully. I don’t like having to have a programmer’s or engineer’s mindset to use software. So please, Briley, keep up your search for straightforward third-party alternatives. (P.S. Nice review.)

  10. naveed

    I really don’t see the need for these scheduler programs when one is built right into Windows and is very powerful and customizable. As a tech blog, you guys should not even promote these programs unless they provide a clear advantage.