If you’ve always admired computer programmers who can write code and make computers do the work for you, then you need to check out IFTTT. The folks who brought you Buffer are determined to make your life easier. They developed IFTTT, a free site that simplifies your life by letting you program the Internet to help you out. No coding required!
What IFTTT Is
IFTTT helps you stay on top of social media sites, important events, stock prices, the weather and, well, life. IFTTT, an acronym for If This Then That, lets you create programs to make things happen. These programs are called “Recipes” and by mixing together the right ingredients, you can put the Internet to work for you. If you’re a programmer, you could write code to make this happen. But you don’t have to be a programmer – IFTTT makes it easy.
A Recipe is “if this, then that.” Plain and simple.
Sample IFTTT Recipes
To get an idea of how IFTTT works, here are some examples of IFTTT Recipes:
- Text me the weather every morning
- Text me when XYZ stock price goes above $XX
- Email me the free iTunes App of the Week
- Text me with a new Amazon Gold Box deal
- Email me when a new book is added to Kindle Top 100 Free eBooks
- Everytime I’m tagged in a Facebook photo, send the photo to Dropbox
The IFTTT Simple Formula
Channel + Trigger + Action = Recipe
Trust me, it’s easy.
IFTTT works with channels, such as a social media sites (such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare) , weather events, stock prices, etc. To work with a channel, you need to give IFTTT permission to access your account. IFTTT is connected with 47 different channels, but you only need to give permission for the channels you’ll be using with IFTTT.
A trigger is the This part of the Recipe, such as if:
- XYZ stock price reaches $XX
- I am tagged in a Facebook photo
The action is the Then part of the recipe, such as
- Email me
- Save to my Dropbox
Super Easy IFTTT Recipes!
You can either create your own Recipes or use ones that others have created to make it even easier.
The easiest way of using IFTTT is finding a Recipe that has already been created by someone else. You can browse IFTTT to see what Recipes are available and tweak them to fit your needs. Tens of thousands of Recipes have been created so you may not need to create your own.
To find Recipes, go to Browse and choose from Popular, Hot and What’s New. You can also search for terms to find all Recipes that use a certain channel, trigger or action. For example, you could search “Facebook” to find all IFTTT Recipes that use the Facebook Channel.
Searching through others’ Recipes will also give you ideas. You may find a Recipe such as Add my Foursquare check ins to my Google calendar, to help you keep a diary of places you’ve been. Or you may want to automatically Convert and send books and documents from my Dropbox to my Kindle.
Creating Your Own IFTTT Recipes
If you can’t find a Recipe you want or you like the idea of creating your own, you can make your own Recipes very easily. Go to IFTTT Create.
1. First choose an IFTTT Channel.
2. Next choose a Trigger. After you choose a Channel, IFTTT will show you the Trigger options for that Channel.
3. Finally choose an Action that you want to happen when the Trigger occurs.
IFTTT guides you through the process so it’s easy to follow each step of the way.
Using IFTTT with Twitter
IFTTT works with Twitter, so you can use Recipes that send tweets thanking people for mentioning you or following you on Twitter. But Twitter doesn’t allow the use of the @username with IFTTT. For example, you can’t create a Recipe that will send out a tweet thanking someone with “@username” in the tweet. If you’re not using their user name to thank them, you would have to say something like, ”Thank you #username for the follow!” The chances that your new follower will see your thank you tweet are pretty slim.
The solution is to use Buffer in your Recipe, not Twitter, if you want to include an @username in the text of your tweets. In the previous example thanking someone for following you on Twitter, you can use Buffer in your Recipe for tweets that say “Thank you @username for the follow!”
Note that free Buffer accounts have a limit of 10 tweets in your buffer so you can fill up your buffer very quickly if you get a lot of new followers. But you will save a lot of time and show a lot of appreciation by using IFTTT with Buffer.
Sample Fun IFTTT Recipes
In February, I wrote about a site that makes it easy to Clean Up Your Permissions. You can have IFTTT send you an email on the first of each month reminding you to visit that site. Here is the Recipe: Email reminder to clean up your permissions.
Want to save your Pinterest pins? Use this Recipe to Back up your Pinterest pins to your Dropbox.
If you’re in a bind and need a call to rescue you from a meeting, bad date or awkward situation, check out this Recipe:
Text IFTTT and have a call placed to your cell phone with a message that you set.
Want to make a quick Twitter list for a topic? Check out this Recipe: Create a Twitter list from hashtags.
Free tech that makes your life easier may sound too good to be true. But IFTTT is a fun, free and easy way to simplify your life.
Have you used IFTTT? What are your favorite Recipes? Let us know in the Comments section below!