What Is IFTTT and How Can it Improve Your Digital Life?

Tech Talker gives you an introduction to IFTTT (if this then that), a web service that automates a lot of your web functions to make life easier.

Eric Escobar
4-minute read
Episode #83

It’s easiest to think of the name of the website. If something happens, Then perform an action.

The best part about this website is that it is free to use and has a ton of popular web apps that you can set to trigger and perform an action. Some of the apps include Dropbox, Feedly, Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist, ESPN, Foursquare, Google Calendar, Instagram, Google Drive, Gmail, Skydrive, Tumblr, Stocks, and Bitly, just to name a few!

If you want to see the full list of supported apps, I recommend checking out the main IFTTT website where they have a ton of apps to choose from and more that get added every month.

How to Use IFTTT

I really want to stress how simple this website is to use. There is no coding involved at all, just some simple dropdown menus with options to choose from. You click what you want to happen and voila! I’ve been using it for months and it is pretty reliable. I’m even using their beta iPhone app right now which adds support for automatic photo uploading and the use of the reminders app.

By now I hope you can see the power of this web service! When I first started using IFTTT, I was blown away by how many different ways I could get my web applications to work for me.

Aside from their amazing service, IFTTT does another great thing: It shows you samples of what other “Recipes” users have created, if they have chosen to make their recipes public.

This is awesome when you’re looking for some other ways to leverage your favorite apps. You can search by a specific app and see how someone has used it in a recipe.

For example, if I search Facebook, I can see that some users have created recipes that will tweet for them if they change their profile picture. Other users have set up Facebook to download all pictures they are tagged in right to their Dropbox. And some even set their Instagram photos to upload to a Facebook album!

These are all things that can be configured in minutes, and will work automatically once set up.

Now, while all this online automation is great, it might leave you feeling a little exposed digitally. When you decide to turn on an app, IFTTT simply asks for permission to access that specific app. The process of adding an app to IFTTT is easy, however, if you were a hacker wouldn’t this sort of website look like a gold mine? Multiple online accounts, all linked together – sounds like an awesome target to me.


About the Author

Eric Escobar

Tech Talker demystifies technology and cutting edge devices so that even the most tech illiterate can understand what's going on with their computer or gadget — and what to do when something goes wrong.

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