How To Use IFTTT (And Why You Might Want To)

Okay, so (the acronym stands for if this then that) was founded with the idea that “the key to unlocking the creative potential of our existing digital tools might be to build a service that simplifies and consolidates the way those tools can be connected.” Consider how many different web-based tools we’ve covered here at ProfHacker, tools like DeliciousDropboxEvernoteFacebook, FlickrGoogle+Google CalendarGoogle Reader, Google VoiceRead It LaterTwitter… And beyond what we’ve covered there are many such tools out there available for your use. Imagine if you could instruct those services to interact with each other automatically under certain conditions.

With if this then that you can “duct tape” (their description) different services together, as in these examples:

  • if you favorite a Tweet with a link then your Delicious account adds a bookmark for that link
  • if it’s going to rain then you receive a text message letting you know
  • if you receive an email with an attached file then that file is automatically downloaded to your Dropbox folder
  • If you star an item in Google Reader then that item is sent to your Read It Later account
  • if you upload a video to your YouTube account then that video is automatically published on your WordPress site

The site currently works with 35 “channels,” a term it uses to describe the various online services. Once you’ve authorized ifttt to access your account with one of these channels, it’s a fairly simple process to create a recipe for a “task” like the examples above. And if you’d like to check out recipes created by other ifttt users, there’s a sortable page available for your perusal.

I can imagine many useful applications of ifttt, but I’ve only been playing around with it for a day or so. How about you? Have you given it a try? What “recipes” are most interesting to you? What are some of the processes in your workflow that would benefit from automation like this? Please let us know in the comments.

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