Tutorial :How can I programmatically create a new cron job?


I want to be able to programatically add a new cron job, what is the best way to do this?

From my research, it seems I could dump the current crontab and then append a new one, piping that back into crontab:

(crontab -l ; echo "0 * * * * wget -O - -q http://www.example.com/cron.php") | crontab -  

Is there a better way?


It's always worked well for me.

You should consider a slightly more sophisticated script that can do three things.

  1. Append a crontab line; assuring that it didn't exist. Adding when it already exists is bad.

  2. Remove the crontab line. Perhaps only warning if it didn't exist.

  3. A combination of the above two features to replace the crontab line.


The best way if you're running as root, is to drop a file into /etc/cron.d

if you use a package manager to package your software, you can simply lay down files in that directory and they are interpreted as if they were crontabs, but with an extra field for the username, e.g.:

Filename: /etc/cron.d/per_minute

Content: * * * * * root /bin/sh /home/root/script.sh


OP's solution has a bug, it might allow entries to be added twice, use below to fix.

(crontab -l ; echo "0 * * * * your_command") | sort - | uniq - | crontab -  


To Add something to cron

(crontab -l ; echo "0 * * * * hupChannel.sh") 2>&1 | grep -v "no crontab" | sort | uniq | crontab -  

To remove this from cron

(crontab -l ; echo "0 * * * * hupChannel.sh") 2>&1 | grep -v "no crontab" | grep -v hupChannel.sh |  sort | uniq | crontab -  

hope would help someone


If you're planning on doing it for a run-once scenario for just wget'ing something, take a look at 'at'


Simply change the editor to tee command:

export EDITOR="tee"

echo "0 * * * * /bin/echo 'Hello World'" | crontab -e


Assuming that there is already an entry in your crontab, the following command should work relatively well. Note that the $CMD variable is only there for readability. Sorting before filtering duplicates is important, because uniq only works on adjacent lines.

CMD='wget -O - -q http://www.example.com/cron.php"'  (crontab -l ; echo "0 * * * * $CMD") | sort | uniq | crontab -  

If you currently have an empty crontab, you will receive the following error to stderr:

no crontab for user  

If you want to avoid this, you can add a little bit of complexity add do something like this:

(crontab -l ; echo "0 * * * * $CMD") 2>&1 | sed "s/no crontab for $(whoami)//"  | sort | uniq | crontab -  


Adding to JohnZ's answer, here's the syntax to schedule as root if you are a sudoer:

(sudo crontab -l ; echo "0 * * * * your_command") | sort - | uniq - | sudo crontab -  


man crontab is also useful:



   crontab - manipulate per-user crontabs (Dillon's Cron)  


   crontab file [-u user] - replace crontab from file       crontab - [-u user] - replace crontab from stdin       crontab -l [user] - list crontab for user  


function cronjob_exists($command){        $cronjob_exists=false;        exec('crontab -l', $crontab);          if(isset($crontab)&&is_array($crontab)){            $crontab = array_flip($crontab);            if(isset($crontab[$command])){                $cronjob_exists=true;            }        }      return $cronjob_exists;  }    function append_cronjob($command){        if(is_string($command)&&!empty($command)&&cronjob_exists($command)===FALSE){            //add job to crontab          exec('echo -e "`crontab -l`\n'.$command.'" | crontab -', $output);          }        return $output;  }        append_cronjob('* * * * * curl -s http://localhost/cron/test.php');  


This would check to ensure that your command doesn't already exist before adding it.

crontab -l 2>/dev/null | grep -q '/path/to/script' || echo "5 * * * * /path/to/script" | crontab -  



Piping stdout into crontab didn't install the new crontab for me on macOS, so I found this solution instead, using the tee editor in a sub shell:

(EDITOR=tee && (crontab -l ; echo "@daily ~/my-script.sh" ) | uniq - | crontab -e)  


Here's another one-liner way, that avoids duplicates

(crontab -l 2>/dev/null | fgrep -v "*/1 *  *  *  * your_command"; echo "*/1 *  *  *  * your_command") | crontab -  

And here's a way to do JohnZ's answer and avoid no crontab for user message, or if you need to operate in a set -eu type environment and can't have anything return a failure (in which case the 2>/dev/null part is optional):

( (crontab -l 2>/dev/null || echo "")  ; echo "0 * * * * your_command") | sort -u - | crontab -  

Or if you want to split things up so that they're more readable:

new_job="0 * * * * your_command"  preceding_cron_jobs=$(crontab -l || echo "")  (echo "$preceding_cron_jobs" ; echo "$new_job") | sort - | uniq - | crontab -  

Or optionally remove any references to your_command (ex: if the schedule has changed, you only want it ever cron'ed once). In this case we no longer need uniq (added bonus, insertion order is also preserved):

new_job="0 * * * * your_command"  preceding_cron_jobs=$(crontab -l || echo "")  preceding_cron_jobs=$(echo "$preceding_cron_jobs" | grep -v your_command )  (echo "$preceding_cron_jobs" ; echo "$new_job") | crontab -  


also you can add your tasks to /etc/cron.*/


You could also edit the cron table text file directly, but your solution seems perfectly acceptable.

Note:If u also have question or solution just comment us below or mail us on toontricks1994@gmail.com
Next Post »