IFTTT – A Powerful Tool
If This Than That, or IFTTT for short, is a web service that connects services you use every day online. It takes its name from a common programming statement called a conditional, If X than Do Y, which might then be followed by further commands. The folks behind If This Than That wanted to make it easy to connect the services we use to simple triggers that could be set up in this fashion. It sounds simple. It is deceptively so. IFTTT is a powerful tool, but there is a learning curve that is difficult to explain. So let’s start at the beginning.
Why might you need the power of If This Than That? How will it accomplish your goals?
Five Reasons to use IFTTT
- Archive and Tracking
One thing that most social networks suck at is giving you access to your data. I use a recipe that lets IFTTT archive my Tweets on Google Calendar. Now I know every day the text of a tweet and the time it was sent.
- Productivity and Automation
IFTTT is one of your best tools for saving your time. Many of the services you use during the day are “channels” on If This Than That. A few of my favorites; The Buffer App, Hootsuite, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Feedly, Gmail etc. The simplest recipe you might use for productivity is to Buffer all your WordPress posts as soon as they are published. Nice!
- Alerts and Reminders
IFTTT has all sorts of way to send you alerts. Use the SMS or Phone channel that can be used with any mobile. I like giving myself text reminders to do certain actions, like take a break while working and too exercise in the morning. Recipes that use texts for alerts
- Personal Assistant
One neat thing about If This Than That is that the phone channel will transcribe your voicemails. If you set up the phone channel to email you when someone calls then you will get a transcription of a missed call in your inbox along with an mp3 recording of the voicemail.
- Learn About Something New
If This Than That regularly partners with new apps and services. Anyone heard of newsblur? I hadn’t until it was formally announced as a new channel for IFTTT. I am always discovering new services this way.
The best way to learn about IFTTT is just to use it!
What will happen when you join IFTTT?
After signing up for IFTTT, you are going to be immediately invited to use your first recipe. Great! They want you to use a recipe to stay updated with changes to If This Than That. Let’s select it.
Now we get a new screen that shows we have created one recipe. Those four buttons on the right are important.
- The furthest left will turn off your recipe if you wish. Clicking it again will enable it.
- The arrow with the circle will perform a check for a trigger immediately.
- The arrow in the square will let you share your recipe publicly. All recipes are private by default.
- The furthest right arrow will let you edit your recipe.
Normally I would explain how to create a recipe at this point. Actually there is little point in doing so. One of the most powerful tools of IFTTT is the ability to search public recipes and use them as your own.
Finding IFTTT recipes from search
Choose Browse from the top menu. Enter the service that you want to use in the search field. For an example, I will look for Buffer App.
As you can see the search bar automatically completed my search. Click the pop up.
This screen is awesome, it automatically sorts all the recipes that contain Buffer App either as a trigger (the this) or an action (the that).
I am going to choose to search by all time popularity and use this recipe that will share (If this) a newly published WordPress post and add as an update to my Buffer (than that).
You can activate your channels from this screen. You must give IFTTT access to your accounts. You only need to authorize them once and you can revoke the permissions.
Just click the buttons and say yes to all the screens that follow.
Click the use this recipe button after your channels have been authorized.
You are done!
Of course you are going to want to edit your recipe to your liking.
This article on PC World has a more complete run down of how to create your own recipes or edit one that you have found from search
What services or apps do you use to help you manage your daily online routine?
Let me know in the comments!
Top Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net