A service that connects channels

R. Dinakaran Chennai | Updated on January 21, 2013 Published on January 21, 2013

If This Then That. This looks like a Zen statement, be rest assured that it has nothing to do with philosophy. What it can do is to do a Zen-like simplification of your online life.

We all, or at least, most of us, have multiple accounts online. We are in Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Flickr... at least we may have an email account. Sometimes, or even most of the time, the multiple accounts make us wonder whether they can be linked in some way, or at least made to talk to each other. Some already do... like your Twitter posts can be automatically pushed to your Facebook timeline or vice-versa.

Well, I haven’t said what is IFTTT ( It is a Web site that helps you do all this and more automatically. It leaves you do decide what you want, and then create a channel and use ‘Recipe’ (as IFTTT calls them) to do it. If you find IFTTT cumbersome, you can browse and use ‘recipes’ created by others. IFTTT was launched by Linden Tibbets in 2010.

In other words, IFTTT helps us create and share ‘Recipes’ that are based on ‘if this then that’.

The “this” part of a recipe (example: if I get an email) is a trigger and the “that” part creates the action (example: send me as SMS).

As of now, you can use IFTTT in 59 channels, including Linked In, Facebook, Bitly, Blogger, Wordpress, email, Buffer, Twitter, Delicious, Foursquare, Instagram, Flickr, and Vimeo.

Using IFTTT may look a bit complicated in the beginning, but if you forget words like channels, recipes, triggers and actions, it is just like adding 1+1.

How you use IFTTT can be left to your imagination and creativity. In an interview to Mashable, Tibbets said, some of his employees use the service “to share Instagram photos with family members who aren’t on the service. A simple recipe instantly adds all their Instagram shots to a shared folder Skydrive, which their families do use, where they can be viewed.”

The same article also mentioned an incident where an IFTTT user had his bike stolen and set an alert up to be emailed if a bike matching its description hit the web — it did, and he was able to get a notification his stolen bike was on the site, and ultimately got it back.

As I had said earlier, you can use recipes created by others. If you can’t find one or find scrolling through the recipes difficult, you can create your’s easily. There is no limit to the number of recipes you can create.

Once you create an account and log in, you have to click on the Create tab. This will take you to a page with just one line — ifthisthenthat. The ‘this’ will be highlighted. Once you click on ‘this’, you will be taken to a page where you can create a ‘trigger channel’ by selecting one of the channels. For example, if you want to tweet out your blog posts in Blogger, you have to select the Blogger channel first and give the log in credentials and say what should ‘trigger’ the action.

Next, in the ‘then’ page, you have to select Twitter and give your Twitter credentials and select what action should happen when the first trigger happens. In this instance, you have to select the option that says that the post must be tweeted with the headline and the URL.

So, the next time you post something in your Blogger blog, it will be automatically tweeted out. IFTTT can also be used to increase your productivity. For instance, if you have an Evernote account, you can ifttt to create an Evernote note when you create an email with a specific tag or you can create a calendar event by posting from email.

The possibilities are endless. If you have no clue on how to use IFTTT, just head over to the site and start browsing the channels and the ready-made recipes. You will discover newer ways of making your online life easier and less confusing.


(This article was first published in The Hindu print edition on January 21, 2013.)

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Published on January 21, 2013
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