IFTTT (If This Then That)

Categories: Productivity
Availability: iOS, Android, Desktop
Uses: Automate regular tasks, Save time, Set up notifications

What is it?
IFTTT or “If This, Then That” is a productivity tool that enables users to create simple connections between different online services, essentially automating often repetitive or time-consuming tasks.

Have you heard of the concept of the “External Brain”? The whole notion that you can programme or automate tasks once and just let this external brain do all of the heavy lifting for you? This isn’t a very new concept but does seem to be catching on a lot more in recent times; especially as the number of cloud-based services that you can tap into grows.

So, IFTTT operates on the premise that online services can be triggered and work together. The tool uses “recipes” which are simple rulesets that allow these services to communicate with each other and carry out an action.

How can I use it?
IFTTT can be used to automate or speed up tasks. Create channels by connecting other websites or apps to IFTTT and then set up these recipes using the “if this happens, then that occurs” process.

IFTTT has two primary components. The browser-based web application and mobile application(s). Initially, we’ll look at the browser-based application.

To get started:

  • Go to the IFTTT website
  • Create a free account and sign in to get started
The easiest way to get started is to browse for existing recipes and work from there. That way, you get a sense of the format of a recipe and the various channels that you can tap into.

There are two types of recipes in IFTTT; DO recipes and IF recipes

DO recipes allow you to trigger an event on demand. They require the DO mobile application to work. An example would be keeping tally - tracking hours you have spent on an activity.

IF recipes are really powerful. This is where you can get that “External Brain” working for you. IF recipes allow you to automate actions. An example would be automatically posting a tweet when a new blog post is published.

Get started by browsing the IF recipes here.

Why should I use it?
In an educational context, IFTTT can be beneficial from both an educator’s and a student’s perspective. Automate or trigger actions based on attributes such as your location, time and actions/interactions online. Aggregate various online sources for research or for keeping track of hours spent on specific tasks.

At the core it is a productivity application. But once you start to get comfortable with recipes and the apps it provides, the educational applications of IFTTT are numerous. Use it to enhance your workflows or encourage your students to use it to improve theirs.

The following are just a few examples of how the app can be used in an educational context:

IF Recipes
  • Send Articles to a Read-it-Later Service
  • Create a Wordpress Blog post from an Evernote notebook
  • Wikipedia - automatically share your contributions on social media, track updates to articles, receive an email with the article of the day
  • Automatically post a tweet when a new blog post is published.
  • Receive an email when a new story appears on a popular news website.
  • Keep your social profiles in sync
  • Send tweets with certain hashtags to a particular list
  • Save your favourite tweets
DO Recipes
  • Tweeting your location
  • Append ideas to a weekly digest email for yourself
  • Mute your phone when you are in class (and unmute when at home)
Where can I find it?

Unless otherwise stated, all reviews and recommendations are solely those of the Department of Technology Enhanced Learning team and do not reflect the views or opinions of any organisation, including Cork Institute of Technology. The Department is not responsible for any inappropriate, offensive or illegal content viewed or accessed through the tools and products reviewed.