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How to automatically send an 'I'm busy!' text from your Android phone

Sharon Machlis | Jan. 7, 2016
You can use the Tasker and Trigger Android apps to let people know why you're not answering your texts.

What's a Tasker profile?

A Tasker action is something that you want your phone to do: send a text message, change an audio level, turn Bluetooth on and so on. Tasks group those actions together, such as setting different audio levels to 0 in order to mute the phone.

But actions themselves don't automate your phone — you'd have to launch them manually unless your device knows when to launch them for you. A single triggering event, such as "my phone has received a text message," is called a context in Tasker-speak. A profile links triggering events with actions — it's the instruction sheet telling your phone what to do when.

(Note: If you just want an auto SMS responder with phone-mute capabilities that you turn on and off manually with a single tap, I'd recommend the Auto SMS app — it's is considerably easier to set up and has a widget to toggle the responder on and off. But it won't read your calendar events.)

Tap on the Profiles tab in the top nav and create a new profile. You'll be asked to pick your first context. From the menu of categories, choose Event / Phone / Received Text (not Received Data SMS). There will be a dropdown under Type. You can choose an SMS text message, an MMS message (typically with a photo) or Any. In most cases, Any should work fine; but there are some situations where you'll want to exclude MMS and select SMS (see sidebar).

Leave the other fields for Sender and Content blank, unless you only want this to apply to certain people or texts with certain words. Save by tapping on Event Edit in the top nav bar.

You'll then be asked to enter a task. Select the task Meeting Autorespond Msg (or whatever you called your task in step 2). Your profile will be created and switched on. Switch it off, unless you want the auto responses to go out now.

Next, do a long press on "Received Text Any *.*" (the default name of your profile) on the Tasker home screen, tap the A on the top nav bar, and rename your profile to "Mtng Receive Text."

Look for this glitch

When testing on my Galaxy Note 5 using Verizon's Message+ as the default SMS app, my phone went wild sending out autoresponses — fortunately, just back to me and not to the original sender — when I received an MMS message with photo. And by "wild" I mean sending out dozens of messages, one every couple of seconds, which wouldn't stop until I manually turned off my Tasker profile.


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