What is IFTTT and What Can It Do?

Introduction

In This Guide
You'll Learn:
  • What IFTTT is.
  • How IFTTT works.
Before We Begin:
  • Have your Smart Home devices setup.
  • Have the log in information for the various smart home platforms you use.
IFTTT

1 What Is IFTTT?

IFTTT stands for If This Then That. It is a free service that allows you to connect multiple services to your smart home devices and beyond. It uses simple conditional statements in a simple form to make it easy to create little, custom applets to enhance your life.

How It Works

IFTTT accepts an input. Then, based on rules and guides you set up, performs an action on another system.

Examples

It's often easiest to understand IFTTT best through examples:

  • You're coming home from work. Your phone recognizes that it is near your home, and sends a message to IFTTT. IFTTT accepts that message, and forwards it to your smart home lighting, and turns on the light in your kitchen and garage, welcoming you home.
  • You lock your smart lock. Your smart lock sends a message stating it was locked to IFTTT. IFTTT accepts that message, and sends a message to your smart thermostat, to turn it down to save on heating costs.
  • You're hosting a game night watching party. Every time your team scores a goal, your smart lights change to match your team's color, making the event that much more fun and special.
  • The weather report says it'll rain today. About an hour before the rain should start, your smart windows have already closed themselves.

Beyond smart home applications, you can also harness many other sources of information, and the resulting actions can streamline your digital life.

  • Every time your company is mentioned on Twitter, your group knows instantly because IFTTT forwards the tweet to your Slack group.
  • Automatically mute your smartphone whenever you're in a meeting scheduled on your calendar.
  • You're working out, but waiting for a very important email message, as well. When the message comes in, your smartphone reads out the the sender and title, letting you know to stop your workout and respond.

Personal and Customizable

The whole idea behind IFTTT is that everyone has a different need when it comes to integration of their various services. Rather than having just a few that may or may not work, or work poorly, they allow you to 'write your own' integrated approaches, custom and personal for you.

There are example applets, but they exist more to give you an idea to base your own works upon. It can take a bit of thought and careful consideration of your unique wants and needs, but the end result is a tailored experience that works best for you.

Your IFTTT Account

IFTTT has you create an account to store your collection of rules, guides, and tools in what is called "Applets". These can then be accessed from anywhere; your laptop, desktop, and your smartphone.

This allows you to create and edit your Applets on the fly, whenever you need them.

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In This Guide
You'll Learn:
  • What IFTTT is.
  • How IFTTT works.
Before We Begin:
  • Have your Smart Home devices setup.
  • Have the log in information for the various smart home platforms you use.
IFTTT

IFTTT stands for If This Then That. It is a free service that allows you to connect multiple services to your smart home devices and beyond. It uses simple conditional statements in a simple form to make it easy to create little, custom applets to enhance your life.

How It Works

IFTTT accepts an input. Then, based on rules and guides you set up, performs an action on another system.

Examples

It's often easiest to understand IFTTT best through examples:

  • You're coming home from work. Your phone recognizes that it is near your home, and sends a message to IFTTT. IFTTT accepts that message, and forwards it to your smart home lighting, and turns on the light in your kitchen and garage, welcoming you home.
  • You lock your smart lock. Your smart lock sends a message stating it was locked to IFTTT. IFTTT accepts that message, and sends a message to your smart thermostat, to turn it down to save on heating costs.
  • You're hosting a game night watching party. Every time your team scores a goal, your smart lights change to match your team's color, making the event that much more fun and special.
  • The weather report says it'll rain today. About an hour before the rain should start, your smart windows have already closed themselves.

Beyond smart home applications, you can also harness many other sources of information, and the resulting actions can streamline your digital life.

  • Every time your company is mentioned on Twitter, your group knows instantly because IFTTT forwards the tweet to your Slack group.
  • Automatically mute your smartphone whenever you're in a meeting scheduled on your calendar.
  • You're working out, but waiting for a very important email message, as well. When the message comes in, your smartphone reads out the the sender and title, letting you know to stop your workout and respond.

Personal and Customizable

The whole idea behind IFTTT is that everyone has a different need when it comes to integration of their various services. Rather than having just a few that may or may not work, or work poorly, they allow you to 'write your own' integrated approaches, custom and personal for you.

There are example applets, but they exist more to give you an idea to base your own works upon. It can take a bit of thought and careful consideration of your unique wants and needs, but the end result is a tailored experience that works best for you.

Your IFTTT Account

IFTTT has you create an account to store your collection of rules, guides, and tools in what is called "Applets". These can then be accessed from anywhere; your laptop, desktop, and your smartphone.

This allows you to create and edit your Applets on the fly, whenever you need them.

  1. Navigate to ifttt.com.
    Browser with address filled in and highlighted.
  2. Select Sign up in the top right.
    IFTTT page with Sign up highlighted.
  3. If you prefer to attach your IFTTT account to your Google or Facebook account, you may choose one of those options.
    This is often a good idea, as it results in one less password you need to remember.
    This guide will proceed without those options, instead creating a separate account on IFTTT. You may skip these steps if you create your account using Google or Facebook.
  4. Select sign up at the bottom.
    IFTTT sign up page with sign up highlighted.
  5. Enter your email address and a password, then select Sign up.
    IFTTT account setup with Email, Password and sign up button highlighted.
  6. A number of services will be shown, and you need to pick three that you use most often. Select Continue at the bottom once you've chosen.
    Choice of services with Continue highlighted.
  7. A number of pre-made applets are shown. Look through the list; if any interest you click on them to find out more, and enable them.
  8. When you're done, select Discover more to proceed to the main page of IFTTT.
    Demo applets with Discover more highlighted.

One of the major features of IFTTT is location awareness, based upon your smartphone's location. This allows IFTTT to send custom mobile notifications, as well as location specific tasks to work (such as coming home and having your lights turn on).

IFTTT Icon badge

To continue, we need to know what Operating System your smartphone or tablet has.

There are 2 main Operating Systems for smartphones currently available, Android and iOS.

Android Smartphone
Android smartphones are produced by multiple companies, such as Samsung, LG, Motorola, Sony, Nokia, Lenovo, and HTC.Android Home Screen
iOS Smartphone
Apple is the only company that makes iOS smartphones.iOS Home Screen
  1. Open the App Store.
    iOS App Store
  2. Select Search in the bottom right corner.
    App Store Search Button.
  3. Search for "IFTTT" and select it from the list.
    Selecting IFTTT
  4. Select Get for IFTTT.
    IFTTT app page with Get highlighted.
  5. Select Open.
    IFTTT App page with Open highlighted.
  6. When IFTTT first opens, a set of welcome screens opens. Swipe right.
    First welcome screen.
  7. Sign up or sign in using Google, Facebook or your email.
    IFTTT sign in screen
Applets you create are created on your IFTTT account. You can access your IFTTT account using your computer or mobile device and see the same steps, just in a slightly different layout that's easier to use on that device.

To get started, you'll need to log in to the IFTTT website, or open the IFTTT app on your device.

If You're Using a Computer

  1. Open your preferred web browser.
    Main Desktop Browsers.
  2. In the address bar at the top, type in ifttt.com and press enter or return.
    Browser with address filled in and highlighted.

If You're Using a Mobile Device

  1. Open IFTTT.
    IFTTT

Home
IFTTT logo

When you first open IFTTT, you'll be shown a series of featured Applets, as well as a recommended Applets based on your use of the service.
IFTTT Home Page

You can always browse through the listings to get ideas for more automation tasks to build or use that may make your life easier or more fun.

Search
Search

If you know of a specific Applet that's already built, you can search for it.
IFTTT Search page.

You can also search for a general idea and see what other people have built that may be useable, or something you can modify to make it work better for you.
Searching for sports on IFTTT.

My Applets
My Applets

Here you can see your current Applets, turn them on or off, or modify them.
My Applets list.

You can also choose Services, and build a new Applet from scratch to suit your specific needs and wants.
My Applets, Services.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of services connected to IFTTT. Most likely, your Internet-connected devices, and the services you use online daily are listed here, and you can create Applets to help you automate them! 

 

Activity
Activity

You'll be able to see all the activity of your Applets, helping you troubleshoot if one doesn't work quite the way you want, or if one you created is sending off too many alerts.
Activity view.

IFTTT is all about experimentation, and customization for your specific, exact needs. You can create and delete as many Applets as you like!
  1. Launch the Play Store on your smartphone.
    Google Play Store.
  2. Select the search bar at the top.
    Google Play Store with Search bar highlighted.
  3. Search for "IFTTT" and select it from the list.
    IFTTT search with IFTTT highlighted.
  4. Select Install.
    IFTTT app page with Install highlighted.
  5. Select Open to open the app.
    IFTTT store page with Open highlighted.
  6. A short set of welcome screens opens the first time you launch IFTTT. Swipe right on each.
    IFTTT Welcome screen.
  7. Sign up or sign in using Google, Facebook or your email.
    IFTTT sign in selection.
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