Module tokio::task

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Asynchronous green-threads.

What are Tasks?

A task is a light weight, non-blocking unit of execution. A task is similar to an OS thread, but rather than being managed by the OS scheduler, they are managed by the Tokio runtime. Another name for this general pattern is green threads. If you are familiar with Go’s goroutines, Kotlin’s coroutines, or Erlang’s processes, you can think of Tokio’s tasks as something similar.

Key points about tasks include:

  • Tasks are light weight. Because tasks are scheduled by the Tokio runtime rather than the operating system, creating new tasks or switching between tasks does not require a context switch and has fairly low overhead. Creating, running, and destroying large numbers of tasks is quite cheap, especially compared to OS threads.

  • Tasks are scheduled cooperatively. Most operating systems implement preemptive multitasking. This is a scheduling technique where the operating system allows each thread to run for a period of time, and then preempts it, temporarily pausing that thread and switching to another. Tasks, on the other hand, implement cooperative multitasking. In cooperative multitasking, a task is allowed to run until it yields, indicating to the Tokio runtime’s scheduler that it cannot currently continue executing. When a task yields, the Tokio runtime switches to executing the next task.

  • Tasks are non-blocking. Typically, when an OS thread performs I/O or must synchronize with another thread, it blocks, allowing the OS to schedule another thread. When a task cannot continue executing, it must yield instead, allowing the Tokio runtime to schedule another task. Tasks should generally not perform system calls or other operations that could block a thread, as this would prevent other tasks running on the same thread from executing as well. Instead, this module provides APIs for running blocking operations in an asynchronous context.

Working with Tasks

This module provides the following APIs for working with tasks:


Perhaps the most important function in this module is task::spawn. This function can be thought of as an async equivalent to the standard library’s thread::spawn. It takes an async block or other future, and creates a new task to run that work concurrently:

use tokio::task;

task::spawn(async {
    // perform some work here...

Like std::thread::spawn, task::spawn returns a JoinHandle struct. A JoinHandle is itself a future which may be used to await the output of the spawned task. For example:

use tokio::task;

let join = task::spawn(async {
    // ...
    "hello world!"

// ...

// Await the result of the spawned task.
let result = join.await?;
assert_eq!(result, "hello world!");

Again, like std::thread’s JoinHandle type, if the spawned task panics, awaiting its JoinHandle will return a JoinError. For example:

use tokio::task;

let join = task::spawn(async {
    panic!("something bad happened!")

// The returned result indicates that the task failed.

spawn, JoinHandle, and JoinError are present when the “rt” feature flag is enabled.


Spawned tasks may be cancelled using the JoinHandle::abort or AbortHandle::abort methods. When one of these methods are called, the task is signalled to shut down next time it yields at an .await point. If the task is already idle, then it will be shut down as soon as possible without running again before being shut down. Additionally, shutting down a Tokio runtime (e.g. by returning from #[tokio::main]) immediately cancels all tasks on it.

When tasks are shut down, it will stop running at whichever .await it has yielded at. All local variables are destroyed by running their detructor. Once shutdown has completed, awaiting the JoinHandle will fail with a cancelled error.

Note that aborting a task does not guarantee that it fails with a cancelled error, since it may complete normally first. For example, if the task does not yield to the runtime at any point between the call to abort and the end of the task, then the JoinHandle will instead report that the task exited normally.

Be aware that calls to JoinHandle::abort just schedule the task for cancellation, and will return before the cancellation has completed. To wait for cancellation to complete, wait for the task to finish by awaiting the JoinHandle. Similarly, the JoinHandle::is_finished method does not return true until the cancellation has finished.

Calling JoinHandle::abort multiple times has the same effect as calling it once.

Tokio also provides an AbortHandle, which is like the JoinHandle, except that it does not provide a mechanism to wait for the task to finish. Each task can only have one JoinHandle, but it can have more than one AbortHandle.

Blocking and Yielding

As we discussed above, code running in asynchronous tasks should not perform operations that can block. A blocking operation performed in a task running on a thread that is also running other tasks would block the entire thread, preventing other tasks from running.

Instead, Tokio provides two APIs for running blocking operations in an asynchronous context: task::spawn_blocking and task::block_in_place.

Be aware that if you call a non-async method from async code, that non-async method is still inside the asynchronous context, so you should also avoid blocking operations there. This includes destructors of objects destroyed in async code.


The task::spawn_blocking function is similar to the task::spawn function discussed in the previous section, but rather than spawning an non-blocking future on the Tokio runtime, it instead spawns a blocking function on a dedicated thread pool for blocking tasks. For example:

use tokio::task;

task::spawn_blocking(|| {
    // do some compute-heavy work or call synchronous code

Just like task::spawn, task::spawn_blocking returns a JoinHandle which we can use to await the result of the blocking operation:

let join = task::spawn_blocking(|| {
    // do some compute-heavy work or call synchronous code
    "blocking completed"

let result = join.await?;
assert_eq!(result, "blocking completed");

When using the multi-threaded runtime, the task::block_in_place function is also available. Like task::spawn_blocking, this function allows running a blocking operation from an asynchronous context. Unlike spawn_blocking, however, block_in_place works by transitioning the current worker thread to a blocking thread, moving other tasks running on that thread to another worker thread. This can improve performance by avoiding context switches.

For example:

use tokio::task;

let result = task::block_in_place(|| {
    // do some compute-heavy work or call synchronous code
    "blocking completed"

assert_eq!(result, "blocking completed");

In addition, this module provides a task::yield_now async function that is analogous to the standard library’s thread::yield_now. Calling and awaiting this function will cause the current task to yield to the Tokio runtime’s scheduler, allowing other tasks to be scheduled. Eventually, the yielding task will be polled again, allowing it to execute. For example:

use tokio::task;

async {
    task::spawn(async {
        // ...
        println!("spawned task done!")

    // Yield, allowing the newly-spawned task to execute first.
    println!("main task done!");

Cooperative scheduling

A single call to poll on a top-level task may potentially do a lot of work before it returns Poll::Pending. If a task runs for a long period of time without yielding back to the executor, it can starve other tasks waiting on that executor to execute them, or drive underlying resources. Since Rust does not have a runtime, it is difficult to forcibly preempt a long-running task. Instead, this module provides an opt-in mechanism for futures to collaborate with the executor to avoid starvation.

Consider a future like this one:

async fn drop_all<I: Stream + Unpin>(mut input: I) {
    while let Some(_) = {}

It may look harmless, but consider what happens under heavy load if the input stream is always ready. If we spawn drop_all, the task will never yield, and will starve other tasks and resources on the same executor.

To account for this, Tokio has explicit yield points in a number of library functions, which force tasks to return to the executor periodically.


If necessary, task::unconstrained lets you opt a future out of of Tokio’s cooperative scheduling. When a future is wrapped with unconstrained, it will never be forced to yield to Tokio. For example:

use tokio::{task, sync::mpsc};

let fut = async {
    let (tx, mut rx) = mpsc::unbounded_channel();

    for i in 0..1000 {
        let _ = tx.send(());
        // This will always be ready. If coop was in effect, this code would be forced to yield
        // periodically. However, if left unconstrained, then this code will never yield.



  • Task-related futures.
  • A collection of tasks spawned on a Tokio runtime.


  • An owned permission to abort a spawned task, without awaiting its completion.
  • Buildertokio_unstable and tracing
    Factory which is used to configure the properties of a new task.
  • Idrt and tokio_unstable
    An opaque ID that uniquely identifies a task relative to all other currently running tasks.
  • Task failed to execute to completion.
  • An owned permission to join on a task (await its termination).
  • A collection of tasks spawned on a Tokio runtime.
  • Context guard for LocalSet
  • A key for task-local data.
  • A set of tasks which are executed on the same thread.
  • Future for the unconstrained method.


  • block_in_placert-multi-thread
    Runs the provided blocking function on the current thread without blocking the executor.
  • consume_budgettokio_unstable and rt
    Consumes a unit of budget and returns the execution back to the Tokio runtime if the task’s coop budget was exhausted.
  • idrt and tokio_unstable
    Returns the Id of the currently running task.
  • Spawns a new asynchronous task, returning a JoinHandle for it.
  • Runs the provided closure on a thread where blocking is acceptable.
  • Spawns a !Send future on the current LocalSet.
  • try_idrt and tokio_unstable
    Returns the Id of the currently running task, or None if called outside of a task.
  • Turn off cooperative scheduling for a future. The future will never be forced to yield by Tokio. Using this exposes your service to starvation if the unconstrained future never yields otherwise.
  • Yields execution back to the Tokio runtime.