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IFTTT (which is pronounced ‘ift’ as in ‘gift’) stands for ‘if this then that’. It’s a tool that gives you the ability to connect various, seemingly disparate, online applications together as one glorious interconnected whole.

‘If this then that’ component basically means: If an event happens (this) in one application, it will trigger an action (that) within another one.

For instance, if someone comments on your WordPress blog you can thank them automatically with an email. If every time you post an image on Instagram it can be automatically uploaded as a Tumblr post. If every time you are tagged in a photo on Facebook, it will automatically save the photo to your iOS Photos.

These connections between channels are called ‘recipes’. These recipes can be created by yourself, or you can browse through ones that other users have created on IFTTT.com itself.

IFTTT is accessible on your desktop, can be downloaded as an app for the iPhone or Android and can also be integrated into your blogging platform: WordPress or Google Blogger for instance.

There is an endless array of ‘recipes’ to make your life easier. Here is a step-by-step guide on setting up IFTTT on desktop and smartphone.

Desktop

Sign-up is a swift one step process requiring only an email, user name and password. Once you’re through, this is your dashboard.

It’s all fairly straightforward, telling you which channels have automatically been switched on for you.

Of course email was automatically done when you signed in. It also states how many possible recipes are available with the number of active channels you have. Want more options? Activate some more channels.

At the moment you pick from the following, but more are being added all the time…

Clicking on any channel will take you to a page providing a brief explanation of the channel, some suggested recipes and the chance to activate it.

Then you can look through various recipes related to this channel from the page itself, or head up to the tabs across the top and click ‘create’ where you’ll be taken to this utterly stark and concise page…

Clicking on the gigantic ‘this’ link will allow you to choose your trigger channel. I plumped for Twitter. 

Then you can choose your trigger…

Next you can pick your action. Click on the giant ‘that’ link.

Then choose your action channel.

I’ve gone for Facebook. These are your possible results based on your trigger and channels.

I’ve gone for ‘create a status message’. The end result is this…

Every time I tweet from that Twitter account, it will automatically update my Facebook status with the tweet.

Mobile

When you download the app, you’ll find that a few recipes are created for you automatically. 

For instance here’s a recipe that emails you a recommended recipe daily.

If you want to create your own recipe, browse ready-made ones or change the settings of your existing ones, tap on the pestle and mortar symbol on the top right.

Then click on the plus sign…

… and you’re through to ‘Create a Recipe’. 

First you’ll begin by picking the ‘if’, which is essentially the first channel or options you want to connect.

Then you’re free to cycle through the channels and pick from any of the selected actions.

You can also search via channel too. There are loads available. All expected social channels and email is covered, there’s also BuzzFeed, Dropbox, Etsy, Evernote, Feedly, Flickr, GitHub, Storify, Vimeo, WordPress and various apps within your smartphone itself: date and time, weather, stocks, phone calls.

For more on IFTTT check out these 20 fantastically helpful IFTTT recipes.

Further reading for beginners

During my first year at Econsultancy I’ve been making a point of writing beginner’s guides to any new terms or phrases I find particularly baffling, or that I might suspect other people may find baffling too. 

The following related articles should help clear up a few things… 

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 6 May, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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