If This, Then That (IFTTT)

IFTTT logoHave you heard of IFTTT (pronounced ‘gift’ without the ‘g’)? IFTTT is a personal assistant service that according to ifttt.com, “makes useful connections between two things by using the statement ‘if this, then that’”. Connecting different services to help make your life easier, IFTTT aims to be a computer switchboard for useful things like sharing social media posts to multiple channels, muting your personal cell phone when you get to work, and beyond. With over 160 different channels, the possibilities are seemingly endless.

Assuming you are new to IFTTT, let’s take some time to learn IFTTT vocabulary:

  • Channels: Channels are the basic building blocks or the applications that you use on your computer every day, such as Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook and Instagram. Each Channel has its own Triggers and Actions.
  • Triggers: The this part of a Recipe. For instance, a trigger might be “I get an email from Sue”or “the weather is above 70 degrees.”
  • Actions: The that part of a Recipe. For example, “save the image file to my dropbox.”
  • Ingredients: Pieces of data from a Trigger (the if statement). For example, the Ingredients of an Email Trigger could be: subject, body, attachment, received date, and the sender’s address.
  • Recipes: Personal Recipes are a combination of a Trigger and an Action from your active Channels. Personal Recipes look like this: If I Instagram a new photo, then Add file from URL to my Dropbox.
  • On / Off: Personal Recipes can be turned on and off. When turned back on, they pick up as if you had just created them.
  • Polling Period: Most Personal Recipes check for new Trigger data every 15 minutes, some are even faster.

Launched in 2011, IFTTT was created by Linden Tibbets, Jesse Tane and Alexander Tibbets. In August of this year, IFTTT announced that it had raised a record $30 million in funding from the venture capital firms Norwest Venture Partners and Andreessen Horowitz, so I expect this is a platform to add to your watch list in 2015. Two things to watch out for are monetization and internet-connected hardware devices being added to the channels.


IFTTT will be launching a paid version for those who want more control over their recipes. Currently, creating an account and recipes are free.

Internet Connected Hardware Devices

As Wi-Fi-connected products are added to IFTTT channels, people will be able to control what happens at their home by setting up recipes. With IFTTT, you are able to control devices at your house, beyond your computer or phone. For example, Logitech Harmony is a tool that Creates personalized home Activities and lets you “enjoy integrated control of connected lights, locks, thermostats, sensors, home entertainment and more with the latest in Harmony home automation.” By linking Harmony with IFTTT, you can use your location to set a Harmony Activity. Or if you have Homeboy, “the world’s most accessible home security system”, you can set up recipes to turn your Phillips hue bulbs red, if motion is detected in your home.

Harmony IFTTT recipe Homeboy IFTTT Recipe

According to a recent Time article, IFTTT aims to encourage creativity in remixing Internet, phone and computer services to work better for our needs. “We’re often repurposing simple objects to fulfill a different purpose and need, like putting a pencil behind your ear when you need to use your hands,” Mr. Tibbets said. “It’s the same with IFTTT. People really deserve this ability to mix and match, and to have the Internet work for them.”

Facebook and Twitter IFTTT recipe

If you haven’t signed up, I recommend you sign up now and browse the recipes to see if anything looks beneficial for your productivity and efficiency at home and at work. Here are some excellent productivity recipes and some hilarious recipes to check out. Let us know what you think; what are your favorite recipes? Share them in the comments below!


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