What Is IFTTT?

Everyone's talking about it – and here's why

a woman using her tablet at home

 Westend61 / Getty Images

IFTTT is a free, web-based service that allows you to connect your apps to each other from various devices so they talk to each other and cause automated actions.

IFTTT stands for "If This Then That," where "This" represents a primary app and "That" represents a secondary connected app. When an action takes place on the primary app, the secondary connected app is automatically triggered to also take some sort of action.

Confused? Don't worry, it's easier to understand than you might think when you start using IFTTT for yourself.

How IFTTT Works

You use IFTTT by searching for or creating something called an "applet" (formerly called a recipe). An applet is simply a conditional statement – hence the name, If This Then That. Once added or created, the applet creates a chain reaction between at least two of your apps.

A screenshot of IFTTT.com.
IFTTT.com.

IFTTT has a vast library of existing applets created by other users you can use with your own apps. Alternatively, you can create your own applet from scratch.

Some of the most popular apps that can work with IFTTT include:

  • Blogger
  • Medium
  • Tumblr
  • WordPress
  • Bitly
  • Pocket
  • MailChimp
  • Salesforce
  • Google Calendar
  • Amazon Cloud Drive
  • Dropbox
  • Google Docs
  • Google Sheets
  • Google Drive
  • Facebook
  • Messenger
  • Skype
  • Slack
  • GitHub
  • Email
  • Gmail
  • Fitbit
  • iOS Calendar
  • iOS Health
  • SoundCloud
  • Spotify
  • Feedly
  • NPR
  • TIME
  • Wikipedia
  • Evernote
  • SMS
  • VoIP Calls
  • Android Photos
  • Flickr
  • Google Photos
  • iOS Photos
  • Vimeo
  • YouTube

You can see the full list of apps IFTTT supports here. In addition to popular web apps, IFTTT can also connect to certain smart appliances from GE, Samsung, LG, and other brands.

Who Uses IFTTT?

IFTTT can be used by anyone who uses several different apps or web services on one or multiple devices, or with one or multiple smart appliances. It's an ideal service for anyone looking to cut down on manual, technologically-driven tasks by automating them.

How to Get Started With IFTTT

IFTTT is free to use and only requires an email address, a password, and a username to sign up for an account. You can do this from a web browser at IFTTT.com or by downloading IFTTT for iOS or Android devices.

How to Use IFTTT

Running through an example of an IFTTT applet can help you better understand how the service works.

Let's say you don't always remember to check the weather forecast and want to be better prepared when it rains. You could use IFTTT to automatically send you an email if the weather forecast predicts rain for the next day.

You only need an IFTTT-supported weather app and the default email app on your mobile device to set up an applet and receive emails any time rain is expected.

A screenshot of IFTTT.com.
IFTTT.com.

Option 1: Use an Existing IFTTT Applet

  1. Use IFTTT's search function to search for an existing applet that can send you an email any time rain is expected. Type something like "weather email," or "rain email" into the search field to run a search.
  2. Scroll past the services that pop up to the Applets section and browse through the existing applets that turned up for your search.
  3. If you find an applet that uses your preferred weather app to notify you by email about forecasted rain, tap that applet and turn it on.
  4. IFTTT will then take you through the process of connecting your apps so you can use the applet.

Option 2: Create Your Own IFTTT Applet

  1. If you can't find an existing applet to use, you can create your own from scratch by going to My Applets > New Applet.
  2. Tap +this highlighted in blue and choose a weather app by typing it into the search field or finding it in the list below.
  3. Follow the steps IFTTT takes you through to connect your weather app. You should be able to create a trigger for a weather condition that the forecast calls for, such as rain.
  4. Once you've finished setting up your weather app, tap +that highlighted in blue and choose the email app by typing it into the search field or finding it in the list below.
  5. Follow the steps IFTTT takes you through to connect your weather app. You should be able to customize your email subject line and body content however you like.
  6. Tap Create Action, then tap Finish to complete creation of the applet.

How to Use IFTTT With Your Virtual Assistant

If you already use a virtual assistant like Amazon Alexa, Cortana, or Google Home/Google Assistant, you can make it even more powerful by integrating it with IFTTT. If you're not sure how to do this, simply use IFTTT's search function to run a search for your virtual assistant of choice to see what kinds of applets already exist.

A screenshot of IFTTT.com.
IFTTT.com.