How to Use ifttt to Put the Internet to Work
A wonderful cloud service called If This Then That promises to “Put the Internet to work for you.” The service uses your various cloud-based services to help you do certain tasks more quickly and efficiently.
I started using If This Then That about a month ago to let me know via email when Netflix added new movies to their streaming collection. After seeing how well it work I went nuts looking for awesome “recipes” to do useful tasks for me. If This Then That, or ifttt as its more commonly called, is awesome, most of the time. On occasion you’ll find a recipe that doesn’t work.
Let me show you a few of the things it can do for you, like giving you a wake up call or storing content in your Dropbox or Evernote account.
Setting Up Tasks
First, sign up for an ifttt account and then look at some of the cool Recipes already provided. For example, you can get a weather report via text message every morning or save your Instagram pictures to Dropbox. Search for your favorite cloud-based services like Instapaper, Google Reader or Delicious and I’ll bet there’s a Recipe that works with it. As an example, lets set up the Instagram to DropBox recipe that I use. Search for Instagram and Dropbox.
You’ll see over 20 pages of results. Look through them and see which one looks like it will work best for you. Some will save your pictures and others will save pictures you liked. One even saves all photos, which I’m sure will fill up your Dropbox account soon.
I picked the one from user “dmnsk” which promises to save the new photos that I post on Instagram to a folder in my Dropbox account.
To make it work, you will need to activate the two services. Control+Click (for Windows) or Command+Click (on Mac) on the Channels tab at the top of the ifttt.com page once you sign into the service. This will open a new tab with the Channels page. That way you don’t lose the recipe you picked to set up. Find the Instagram channel and then click on it. Follow the instructions for activating it. Do the same for Dropbox.
Once you finish setting up your channel, you’ll see a bunch of popular recipes using that channel. With both channels set up, return to the page with the recipe for Instagram to Dropbox. Reload the page and it should automatically populate the entry boxes with the correct information.
If you want to customize the recipe, then click in the entry boxes and you’ll see a drop down box with options to add from the Instagram channel. For example, you can add the Photo Caption you posted with the picture, the Instagram URL, the Image Source URL (the default item in the box) and the Created Date. You only need the Source URL to make this recipe work.
Click on Create task and then post a picture on Instagram to test it out. The first time I set this one up I had to hit the Check Now button at the top of the new task page. The recipe found my photos posted on Instagram and sent them to my Dropbox account. Be sure to add an Instagram folder to your Dropbox Photos folder before you post photos on Instagram or it won’t work.
Here’s the picture I posted in Instagram:
And here’s the photo in my Dropbox account’s slide show feature.
Here’s a list of the tasks I’m using now.
- Instagram to Dropbox – the above recipe
- A wake up call – ifttt calls me at a set time on my home phone
- Google+ to Twitter – this one should post my Google+ feed to my Twitter feed but it doesn’t work
- Text me the Weather – sends a text with a short weather report of temperature and expected conditions
- Starred Google Reader feed to my Gmail account – when I star something in my Google Reader account it emails me the link
Notice above that the Google+ to Twitter recipe doesn’t work. That happens when services make changes and the recipe doesn’t get an update. I suspect that’s what happened with the Google+ to Twitter recipe.
If you ever want to see what tasks you set up in ifttt, then click not the Tasks tab at the top of the page after you log into the service. You can delete them, change them or check them to see if they’re working. You can also temporarily turn them off using the icon that looks like a computer power button.
If you don’t see a task using one of your services, then you can make one of your own. Click on your username and then choose Create a task button on the Dashboard. The service will walk you through the steps starting with the “This” part of the If This Then That equation.
To hear my wake up call from ifttt, watch the video below:
Let us know if you use the service and what your favorite recipes do for you in the comments below.