Automate Tasks With IFTTT [Quick Tip]

If this then that, or IFTTT for short, is a free tool that makes it easy to automate everyday tasks. IFTTT is so powerful and versatile that you can use it to do all kinds of things, from grabbing a photo that you are tagged in on Facebook and uploading to Dropbox to tweeting articles you start in Google Reader. There are nearly 50 services supported by IFTTT that make it easy for your create all kinds of automated actions.

The concept is if something happens on a service, then do this action. IFFTT makes it easy to connect two services, choose a trigger, and create and action. While IFTTT might sound slightly confusing, you will quickly realize it is easy to use. You can create your own actions, called recipes, or use pre-made recipes.

IFTTT Actions

What You Can Do With IFTTT

There are literally thousands of pre-made recipes available and countless options for custom recipes. Here are a few example recipes to whet your appetite.

  • Send an SMS when someone DM’s you on Twitter.
  • Automatically save Facebook status updates of Tweets to Evernote.
  • Automatically save photos uploaded to Facebook or Instagram to Evernote.
  • Send a tweet at certain time every day.
  • Receive an SMS about the weather for the day.
  • Receive an email when iTunes tweets #FreeAppoftheWeek.
  • Add starred items in Google Reader to Buffer.
  • Automatically schedule your Facebook posts.
  • Automatically tweet a new article in an RSS feed.
  • Receive a phone call when stock prices fall.

Create a Recipe

I recommend starting out with the popular recipes to get a feel for how IFTTT works. Once you are ready, setting up your own recipe is easy. Just follow these simple steps after you have created your free account.

  1. Click this and IFTTT will display this the channel selector. Choose the channel you want to use. For example, if you want to receive an SMS when someone DM’s you on Twitter, choose Twitter as your channel. You will need to activate the channel the first time you use it.
  2. Choose a trigger. This is the thing that happens on the channel that will cause IFTTT to take an action. IFTTT will show you the options available for the selected channel. Some triggers have additional fields that need to be completed (e.g., entering the feed URL for the RSS trigger). Receiving a DM does not have any additional fields.
  3. Click that to choose an action. Pick the channel you want to use for the action. IFTTT will show you the options available for the selected channel. For our example, I choose SMS and went through the steps to activate it. You may have to click “View all channels” see all of the available channels.
  4. Choose a trigger. This is the action you want to happen. The SMS channel has only one action, “Send me an SMS.” Change the information you want to receive in the message and click Create Action.
  5. Give your recipe a description and click Activate Recipe.

That’s it! You now have a recipe that send you an SMS every time you receive a direct message on Twitter.

There are a lot of powerful options available with IFTTT. The main drawback is that not all networks are supported (Google+ for example). This is due to the network, not IFTTT, though they are adding channels all the time.