IFTTT is a web and smartphone app that is all about automating small tasks to save you time in your day-to-day life. IFTTT stands for “If This Then That,” and works just like it sounds. By creating a trigger and a follow-up action with one of the 367 supported services, you can automate everything from social media, record keeping, and data entry to notifications, smart home appliances, and other parts of your connected life.
Getting Started with IFTTT
IFTTT is free to use. Start by signing up at IFTTT.com. Once you are signed in, you’ll have to connect your accounts for things to work, so you can browse through the channels list to connect some of your most used apps.
Some popular channels include Gmail, Dropbox, Google Drive, Facebook, Twitter, Google Calendar, Evernote, and Pocket. There are also some nifty features for Android and iPhones, so make sure to connect the one that you use.
You can download the IF app from IFTTT for Android and iOS to activate those features. IFTTT also has a handy app called DO, but today we’re going to focus on features that work with the IF app and IFTTT website.
Browse for Useful IFTTT Recipes
Once you’re connected, you can browse recipes to see what’s most popular and may be useful to you. If you try to activate a recipe but have not yet connected that app, you’ll get a popup to connect while activating.
A good starting point is to look at weather and event notification recipes. For example, when I lived in Denver, I made a recipe to text me in the morning if it was going to snow.
But when I moved to Portland, I found rain notifications much more useful. You can always tweak and edit apps to match your specific needs.
Next, look at your favorite social media apps and frustrations. I always hated that when someone tagged me in a photo and I didn’t have a copy, but a simple IFTTT recipe resolved that for me. Now every time I am tagged in a photo, it is automatically added to my Dropbox.
If you have an Amazon Echo, Nest Thermostat, Phillips Hue lightbulbs, or one of a big list of connected products, you can create recipes that use those devices. For example, if you want the lights to turn on when you get home, just activate the recipe.
Or maybe you want to notify a special someone when you leave work each day to head home.
You can also create recipes to automatically save email attachments, get notifications on eBay listings, pin your new Instagram photos to Pinterest, add songs to a Spotify playlist, and much, much, much more.
Create Your Own IFTTT Recipe
Once you have added a few recipes and have a feel of how the site works, you can create your own recipes from scratch. This can be useful for online workers and efficiency addicts who want to automate as many processes as they can.
If you are into decorating your home on a budget and want cool, funky, vintage items, you can go shopping at same vintage stores every weekend, or just let IFTTT let you know when an item you may like posts to Craigslist.
To make that happen:
1. Click on “my recipes” in the top navigation menu, then the big blue “create a recipe” button on the right side of the page.
2. Click “THIS” to pick your trigger action. You can scroll through and find the service you want, or just type the name in the search bar. Because we are doing a Craigslist search, choosing that gives you the option for the trigger, “new post from search.” Click that to open a box for your search results URL. To get that URL, open Craigslist for your area, then search with the form on the left. I typed “couch” and this URL, or web address, showed up in the bar in my browser: https://ventura.craigslist.org/search/sss?sort=rel&query=couch. That is what I would copy and paste into IFTTT for my search URL. Try to be very specific to avoid getting too many emails, but not so specific you don’t get any. You can always turn recipes off and on, or edit them later on if you’d like.
3. Once your trigger is setup, click “THAT” for the response. I want an email when there is a new couch on Craigslist, but I could also get a text message, phone notification, have it added to a Google Sheets spreadsheet, append it to an Evernote note, or many more options. I picked “email digest” to get one daily email rather than an email every time someone lists a couch.
4. On the next page, you can customize options and use some custom fields to format how the email sends off to your inbox. After clicking “create action” at the bottom, you get one final review before clicking “create recipe” to turn it on. It’s that easy!
Creating any new recipe follows a similar process.
Automate Your Life!
No matter what you do for a living or for fun, there’s sure to be some useful possibilities and time savings thanks to IFTTT. With hundreds of connected apps, this free service is a winner!
If you can’t figure it out with IFTTT, don’t despair. Zapier offers a competing service that offers even more customization options, but for a modest fee.
Did you find any favorite IFTTT recipes, or are you an IFTTT pro? Share your favorites in the comments!