Autophagy is a process of self-degradation that enables the cell to survive when faced with starvation or stressful conditions. The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR), also known as the mammalian target of rapamycin, plays a critical role in maintaining a balance between cellular anabolism and catabolism. mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) was unveiled as a master regulator of autophagy since inhibition of mTORC1 was required to initiate the autophagy process. Evidence has emerged in recent years to indicate that mTORC1 also directly regulates the subsequent steps of the autophagy process, including the nucleation, autophagosome elongation, autophagosome maturation and termination. By phosphorylating select protein targets of the autophagy core machinery and/or their regulators, mTORC1 can alter their functions, increase their proteasomal degradation or modulate their acetylation status, which is a key switch of the autophagy process. Moreover, it phosphorylates and alters the subcellular localization of transcription factors to suppress the expression of genes needed for autophagosome formation and lysosome biogenesis. The purpose of this review article is to critically analyze current literatures to provide an integrated view of how mTORC1 regulates various steps of the autophagy process.