If This, Then That

Sometimes the Internet throws up a really simple but great idea that makes life much easier. If this, then that or ifttt to be more accurate, is one such idea.

ifttt allows you to create tasks where an action is carried out on some event. So, for example, when an email is received from a certain email address a copy is then forwarded automatically to another account, or when the Guardian tweets that the latest Long Good Read is available the text is sent to Instapaper. These are two examples but given the long list of services that ifttt supports (RSS, email, Evernote, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, last.fm, Flickr to name just a few) the limitation is more your imagination rather than the service.

ifttt in Action

To create a new task you are taken through the necessary steps via a wizard with a very large font! In these 7 steps you choose the service that you want to monitor and then what is the trigger event, such as a new photo being posted to Flickr. Next you choose the onward service and the action that should be taken there, such as sending a tweet. You then get a chance to tweak the action. What you can do depends on the action chosen but in the example of sending a tweet when a new photo is uploaded to Flickr you get the opportunity to change the tweet by entering your own text and some standard ifttt options such as the link to the photo and the photo title. Clearly the options that you get are very much dependent on the action so for sending an email you can customise the subject, content and who it is to be sent to, for sending to Evernote you can choose the notebook and so on.

Finally you get to give the task a name and save it. And that’s it. Tasks get triggered about every 15 minutes and just magically happen.

Use a Recipe

The site also has a long list of what it calls “recipes” that are user submitted templates that you can use as a starting point for your own tasks, although given that at the time of writing there are currently 33,680 recipes it could take you a while to search through them all to find what you need. These may provide you with a good starting point or give you some ideas of just what the service can achieve.

Endless possibilities

As I said previously what you can do with ifttt is really only limited by your imagination and the services that are available. More services are being added all the time and, of course, there is a recipe to notify you by email when they are added. Once such new service is the hugely popular Pebble watch meaning that you can have notifications for all sorts of things sent to your watch! Now how cool is that?

Do you use iftt? Is let us know what your favourite recipes are? What should we be using?