Advanced Python Scheduler


Advanced Python Scheduler (APScheduler) is a light but powerful in-process task scheduler that lets you schedule functions (or any other python callables) to be executed at times of your choosing.

This can be a far better alternative to externally run cron scripts for long-running applications (e.g. web applications), as it is platform neutral and can directly access your application’s variables and functions.

The development of APScheduler was heavily influenced by the Quartz task scheduler written in Java. APScheduler provides most of the major features that Quartz does, but it also provides features not present in Quartz (such as multiple job stores).


  • No (hard) external dependencies
  • Thread-safe API
  • Excellent test coverage (tested on CPython 2.5 - 2.7, 3.2 - 3.3, Jython 2.5.3, PyPy 1.9)
  • Configurable scheduling mechanisms (triggers):
    • Cron-like scheduling
    • Delayed scheduling of single run jobs (like the UNIX “at” command)
    • Interval-based (run a job at specified time intervals)
  • Multiple, simultaneously active job stores:


Installing APScheduler

The preferred installation method is by using pip:

$ pip install apscheduler

or easy_install:

$ easy_install apscheduler

If that doesn’t work, you can manually download the APScheduler distribution from PyPI, extract and then install it:

$ python install

Starting the scheduler

To start the scheduler with default settings:

from apscheduler.scheduler import Scheduler

sched = Scheduler()

The constructor takes as its first, optional parameter a dictionary of “global” options to facilitate configuration from .ini files. All APScheduler options given in the global configuration must begin with “apscheduler.” to avoid name clashes with other software. The constructor also takes options as keyword arguments (without the prefix).

You can also configure the scheduler after its instantiation, if necessary. This is handy if you use the decorators for scheduling and must have a Scheduler instance available from the very beginning:

from apscheduler.scheduler import Scheduler

sched = Scheduler()

def some_job():
    print "Decorated job"


Scheduling jobs

The simplest way to schedule jobs using the built-in triggers is to use one of the shortcut methods provided by the scheduler:

These shortcuts cover the vast majority of use cases. However, if you need to use a custom trigger, you need to use the add_job() method.

When a scheduled job is triggered, it is handed over to the thread pool for execution.

You can request a job to be added to a specific job store by giving the target job store’s alias in the jobstore option to add_job() or any of the above shortcut methods.

You can schedule jobs on the scheduler at any time. If the scheduler is not running when the job is added, the job will be scheduled tentatively and its first run time will only be computed when the scheduler starts. Jobs will not run retroactively in such cases.


Scheduling new jobs from existing jobs is not currently reliable. This will likely be fixed in the next major release.

Job options

The following options can be given as keyword arguments to add_job() or one of the shortcut methods, including the decorators.

Option Definition
name Name of the job (informative, does not have to be unique)
misfire_grace_time Time in seconds that the job is allowed to miss the the designated run time before being considered to have misfired (see Missed job executions and coalescing) (overrides the global scheduler setting)
coalesce Run once instead of many times if the scheduler determines that the job should be run more than once in succession (see Missed job executions and coalescing) (overrides the global scheduler setting)
max_runs Maximum number of times this job is allowed to be triggered before being removed
max_instances Maximum number of concurrently running instances allowed for this job (see _max_instances)

Shutting down the scheduler

To shut down the scheduler:


By default, the scheduler shuts down its thread pool and waits until all currently executing jobs are finished. For a faster exit you can do:


This will still shut down the thread pool but does not wait for any running tasks to complete. Also, if you gave the scheduler a thread pool that you want to manage elsewhere, you probably want to skip the thread pool shutdown altogether:


This implies wait=False, since there is no way to wait for the scheduler’s tasks to finish without shutting down the thread pool.

A neat trick to automatically shut down the scheduler is to use an atexit hook for that:

import atexit

sched = Scheduler(daemon=True)
atexit.register(lambda: sched.shutdown(wait=False))
# Proceed with starting the actual application

Scheduler configuration options

Directive Default Definition
misfire_grace_time 1 Maximum time in seconds for the job execution to be allowed to delay before it is considered a misfire (see Missed job executions and coalescing)
coalesce False Roll several pending executions of jobs into one (see Missed job executions and coalescing)
standalone False If set to True, start() will run the main loop in the calling thread until no more jobs are scheduled. See Operating modes: embedded vs standalone for more information.
daemonic True

Controls whether the scheduler thread is daemonic or not. This option has no effect when standalone is True.

If set to False, then the scheduler must be shut down explicitly when the program is about to finish, or it will prevent the program from terminating.

If set to True, the scheduler will automatically terminate with the application, but may cause an exception to be raised on exit.

Jobs are always executed in non-daemonic threads.

threadpool (built-in) Instance of a PEP 3148 compliant thread pool or a dot-notation (x.y.z:varname) reference to one
threadpool.core_threads 0 Maximum number of persistent threads in the pool
threadpool.max_threads 20 Maximum number of total threads in the pool
threadpool.keepalive 1 Seconds to keep non-core worker threads waiting for new tasks
jobstores.X.class   Class of the jobstore named X (specified as
jobstores.X.Y   Constructor option Y of jobstore X

Operating modes: embedded vs standalone

The scheduler has two operating modes: standalone and embedded. In embedded mode, it will spawn its own thread when start() is called. In standalone mode, it will run directly in the calling thread and will block until there are no more pending jobs.

The embedded mode is suitable for running alongside some application that requires scheduling capabilities. The standalone mode, on the other hand, can be used as a handy cross-platform cron replacement for executing Python code. A typical usage of the standalone mode is to have a script that only adds the jobs to the scheduler and then calls start() on the scheduler.

All of the examples in the examples directory demonstrate usage of the standalone mode, with the exception of which demonstrates the embedded mode (where the “application” just prints a line every 2 seconds).

Job stores

APScheduler keeps all the scheduled jobs in job stores. Job stores are configurable adapters to some back-end that may or may not support persisting job configurations on disk, database or something else. Job stores are added to the scheduler and identified by their aliases. The alias default is special in that if the user does not explicitly specify a job store alias when scheduling a job, it goes to the default job store. If there is no job store in the scheduler by that name when the scheduler is started, a new job store of type RAMJobStore is created to serve as the default.

The other built-in job stores are:

Job stores can be added either through configuration options or the add_jobstore() method. The following are therefore equal:

config = {'apscheduler.jobstores.file.class': 'apscheduler.jobstores.shelve_store:ShelveJobStore',
          'apscheduler.jobstores.file.path': '/tmp/dbfile'}
sched = Scheduler(config)


from apscheduler.jobstores.shelve_store import ShelveJobStore

    sched = Scheduler()
    sched.add_jobstore(ShelveJobStore('/tmp/dbfile'), 'file')

The example configuration above results in the scheduler having two job stores – one RAMJobStore and one ShelveJobStore.

Job persistency

The built-in job stores (other than RAMJobStore) store jobs in a durable manner. This means that when you schedule jobs in them, shut down the scheduler, restart it and readd the job store in question, it will load the previously scheduled jobs automatically.

Persistent job stores store a reference to the target callable in text form and serialize the arguments using pickle. This unfortunately adds some restrictions:

  • You cannot schedule static methods, inner functions or lambdas.
  • You cannot update the objects given as arguments to the callable.

Technically you can update the state of the argument objects, but those changes are never persisted back to the job store.


None of these restrictions apply to RAMJobStore.

Limiting the number of concurrently executing instances of a job

By default, no two instances of the same job will be run concurrently. This means that if the job is about to be run but the previous run hasn’t finished yet, then the latest run is considered a misfire. It is possible to set the maximum number of instances for a particular job that the scheduler will let run concurrently, by using the max_instances keyword argument when adding the job.

Missed job executions and coalescing

Sometimes the scheduler may be unable to execute a scheduled job at the time it was scheduled to run. The most common case is when a job is scheduled in a persistent job store and the scheduler is shut down and restarted after the job was supposed to execute. When this happens, the job is considered to have “misfired”. The scheduler will then check each missed execution time against the job’s misfire_grace_time option (which can be set on per-job basis or globally in the scheduler) to see if the execution should still be triggered. This can lead into the job being executed several times in succession.

If this behavior is undesirable for your particular use case, it is possible to use coalescing to roll all these missed executions into one. In other words, if coalescing is enabled for the job and the scheduler sees one or more queued executions for the job, it will only trigger it once. The “bypassed” runs of the job are not considered misfires nor do they count towards any maximum run count of the job.

Scheduler events

It is possible to attach event listeners to the scheduler. Scheduler events are fired on certain occasions, and may carry additional information in them concerning the details of that particular event. It is possible to listen to only particular types of events by giving the appropriate mask argument to add_listener(), OR’ing the different constants together. The listener callable is called with one argument, the event object. The type of the event object is tied to the event code as shown below:

Constant Event class Triggered when...
EVENT_SCHEDULER_START SchedulerEvent The scheduler is started
EVENT_SCHEDULER_SHUTDOWN SchedulerEvent The scheduler is shut down
EVENT_JOBSTORE_ADDED JobStoreEvent A job store is added to the scheduler
EVENT_JOBSTORE_REMOVED JobStoreEvent A job store is removed from the scheduler
EVENT_JOBSTORE_JOB_ADDED JobStoreEvent A job is added to a job store
EVENT_JOBSTORE_JOB_REMOVED JobStoreEvent A job is removed from a job store
EVENT_JOB_EXECUTED JobEvent A job is executed successfully
EVENT_JOB_ERROR JobEvent A job raised an exception during execution
EVENT_JOB_MISSED JobEvent A job’s execution time is missed

See the documentation for the events module for specifics on the available event attributes.


def my_listener(event):
    if event.exception:
        print 'The job crashed :('
        print 'The job worked :)'

scheduler.add_listener(my_listener, EVENT_JOB_EXECUTED | EVENT_JOB_ERROR)

Getting a list of scheduled jobs

If you want to see which jobs are currently added in the scheduler, you can simply do:


This will print a human-readable listing of scheduled jobs, their triggering mechanisms and the next time they will fire. If you supply a file-like object as an argument to this method, it will output the results in that file.

To get a machine processable list of the scheduled jobs, you can use the get_jobs() scheduler method. It will return a list of Job instances.

Extending APScheduler

It is possible to extend APScheduler to support alternative job stores and triggers. See the Extending APScheduler document for details.


Q: Why do my processes hang instead of exiting when they are finished?

A: A scheduled job may still be executing. APScheduler’s thread pool is wired to wait for the job threads to exit before allowing the interpreter to exit to avoid unpredictable behavior caused by the shutdown procedures of the Python interpreter. A more thorough explanation can be found here.

Reporting bugs

A bug tracker is provided by

Getting help

If you have problems or other questions, you can either:

Version history

To find out how to migrate your application from a previous version of APScheduler, see the migration section.


  • Added Redis job store
  • Added a “standalone” mode that runs the scheduler in the calling thread
  • Fixed disk synchronization in ShelveJobStore
  • Switched to PyPy 1.9 for PyPy compatibility testing
  • Dropped Python 2.4 support
  • Fixed SQLAlchemy 0.8 compatibility in SQLAlchemyJobStore
  • Various documentation improvements


  • The scheduler now closes the job store that is being removed, and all job stores on shutdown() by default
  • Added the last expression in the day field of CronTrigger (thanks rcaselli)
  • Raise a TypeError when fields with invalid names are passed to CronTrigger (thanks Christy O’Reilly)
  • Fixed the example by shutting down the scheduler on Ctrl+C
  • Added PyPy 1.8 and CPython 3.3 to the test suite
  • Dropped PyPy 1.4 - 1.5 and CPython 3.1 from the test suite
  • Updated setup.cfg for compatibility with distutils2/packaging
  • Examples, documentation sources and unit tests are now packaged in the source distribution


  • Removed the unique constraint from the “name” column in the SQLAlchemy job store
  • Fixed output from Scheduler.print_jobs() which did not previously output a line ending at the end


  • Fixed cron style jobs getting wrong default values


  • Added configurable job stores with several persistent back-ends (shelve, SQLAlchemy and MongoDB)
  • Added the possibility to listen for job events (execution, error, misfire, finish) on a scheduler
  • Added an optional start time for cron-style jobs
  • Added optional job execution coalescing for situations where several executions of the job are due
  • Added an option to limit the maximum number of concurrenctly executing instances of the job
  • Allowed configuration of misfire grace times on a per-job basis
  • Allowed jobs to be explicitly named
  • All triggers now accept dates in string form (YYYY-mm-dd HH:MM:SS)
  • Jobs are now run in a thread pool; you can either supply your own PEP 3148 compliant thread pool or let APScheduler create its own
  • Maximum run count can be configured for all jobs, not just those using interval-based scheduling
  • Fixed a v1.x design flaw that caused jobs to be executed twice when the scheduler thread was woken up while still within the allowable range of their previous execution time (issues #5, #7)
  • Changed defaults for cron-style jobs to be more intuitive – it will now default to all minimum values for fields lower than the least significant explicitly defined field


  • Fixed time difference calculation to take into account shifts to and from daylight saving time


  • Added __repr__() implementations to expressions, fields, triggers, and jobs to help with debugging
  • Added the dump_jobs method on Scheduler, which gives a helpful listing of all jobs scheduled on it
  • Fixed positional weekday (3th fri etc.) expressions not working except in some edge cases (fixes #2)
  • Removed autogenerated API documentation for modules which are not part of the public API, as it might confuse some users


Positional weekdays are now used with the day field, not weekday.


  • Fixed regression: add_cron_job() in Scheduler was creating a CronTrigger with the wrong parameters (fixes #1, #3)
  • Fixed: if the scheduler is restarted, clear the “stopped” flag to allow jobs to be scheduled again


  • Added the week option for cron schedules
  • Added the daemonic configuration option
  • Fixed a bug in cron expression lists that could cause valid firing times to be missed
  • Fixed unscheduling bound methods via unschedule_func()
  • Changed CronTrigger constructor argument names to match those in Scheduler


  • Fixed a corner case where the combination of hour and day_of_week parameters would cause incorrect timing for a cron trigger