Create IFTTT recipes to automate practically everything on the internet or your smartphone
The chances are that between your phone and your computer, you’re signed up to loads of different internet-connected services, only none of them talk to each other. With If This Then That (IFTTT) all of that changes, as you create recipes that state when an action should be triggered. For example, you could send an email when you’re almost home, backup all Facebook photos you’re tagged in to Dropbox, save Starred Gmail messages in a Reminder list, or have the weather sent as a daily notification to your phone. We’ll show you how to get started with this clever system, which you can use for free by signing up for an account at www.ifttt.com. You can also download apps for Android and iOS, which you’ll need for certain tasks, such as those that use your current location.
Actions in IFTTT are called recipes and consist of a trigger (the ‘if this’ part) and an action (the ‘then that’ part). Both triggers and actions are created by activating channels, where a channel can be a service, such as Gmail, weather or Facebook, or part of your phone, such as iOS Location, which tells IFTTT where you are. Each channel that you want to use has to be activated. You can activate a lot of them through the web interface (click Channels), but phone-specific ones, such as the iOS and Android channels, have to be activated using the app on your device.
Click any channel to get more information about it, to activate it and to view recipes that other people have created using this channel (more of this later).
ACTIVATE YOUR FIRST CHANNELS
We’ll start with a simple recipe that doesn’t require a phone and automatically emails you if it’s going to rain tomorrow. First, you need to activate the Weather Channel, so click Channels, Weather and click Activate. Enter your address, postcode or city, click Search, select your location from the box and click Activate.
Next, click Channels and click Email. Click Activate and then enter your email address in the box. Click Send Pin and you’ll be sent a unique code via email. Enter this code in the box on the IFTTT website and click Activate. You’ve now got the two building blocks you need to create your first recipe.
BUILD YOUR FIRST RECIPE
Click My Recipes and then click Create a recipe. You’ll see the phrase ‘ifthisthenthat’, with the ‘this’ highlighted in blue and underlined. Click ‘this’ and you’ll be asked to choose the Trigger channel. Click Weather (you can use the search box to find it faster). You’ll see a whole bunch of trigger options, including just sending you a weather report at a certain time, if the pollen count rises above a certain level and so on. Click ‘Tomorrow’s forecast calls for’ to load the next page. Select Rain from the Condition drop-down menu and click Create Trigger.
You’re now back at the ‘ifthisthanthat’ screen, so click ‘that’ to choose what to do when the weather channel triggers that there will be rain tomorrow. Click the Email channel and you’ll see that there’s just one option ‘Send me an email’, so click that.
On the next screen you’ll see the email template, which has things, such as ‘TomrrowsCondition tomorrow!’ as the Subject. All of the words highlighted in grey are ingredients of the recipe and can be edited. Click on Subject and the flask icon to see a list of options, such as HighTempCelcius, click one to add it into the mix. So, if you wanted the subject to read ‘Rain tomorrow with a high of 10C’, you’d change the Subject to ‘TomrrowsCondition tomorrow with a high of HighTempCelsius’. You may want to edit the body of the email, as the default sends you temperature information in Fahrenheit, rather than Celsius.
Click Create Action when you’re ready and you’ll see a preview of your recipe, and then click Create Recipe once more to create it. Now, as soon as the weather forecast for tomorrow turns to rain, you’ll be sent an email warning you.