Automate the web with IFTTT(IF this THEN that)

If this, then that (IFTTT like Gift without the G) is a great free website. Check it out at

What IFTTT does:

It allows you to automate (some) things that happen on the internet (which IFTTT calls recipes). A recipe will relate to a channel. There are nearly 60 channels (including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Email/Gmail, Pinboard, Craigslist and a lot I hadn’t heard of).


How to get cooking with IFTTT Recipes

An example of a ‘recipe’ – if someone tags you in a photo on facebook, automatically save it to your Dropbox

In setting up this ‘recipe’ all you need to do is:

  1. Create a free account login with
  2. Provide IFTTT with 3rd party access to your (insert blank here) account. For the above recipe- Facebook and Dropbox accounts.

You only have to give IFTTT 3rd party access once per channel, after which you can use recipes with those channels.

IFTTT makes something that would usually take a bit of time to do really simple.


What do people use IFTTT for?

The most popular recipes January 2013 are below. Click to see the current most popular recipes at IFTTT.

Most Popular in January 2013 (top 10 ranking in April 2012 or (–) if not in top 10)

  1. When facebook profile picture changes, update twitter profile picture (1)
  2. Every time you are tagged in a photo on facebook, it will be sent to Dropbox
  3. Get all the updates to ifttt via email (5)
  4. When a new book is added to Kindle Top 100 free ebooks, send me an email (I got 44 emails in a month from this one so I might turn it off) (3)
  5. Text me the weather every morning (new to top 10)
  6. Starred Google reader to Evernote
  7. When new album is added to Amazon’s top free Mp3 Albums, send me an email
    (new to top 10)
  8. Star a Gmail, Send it to Evernote (new to top 10)
  9. Email me the 10 things to know this morning (new to top 10)
  10. Let me know if it is going to rain (If your weather channel shows rain – then send me an SMS) (unfortunately I this doesn’t work in Australia -use number 8 below) (6)
  11. If it is raining tomorrow, send me an email. (8)


Negatives – if this then that

Rules that shouldn’t run all the time

If you set up a recipe – you are setting up a rule, if this happens, then do that. But rules nearly always have exceptions (when you wouldn’t apply the rule in real life).

Two examples of rules that have exceptions are:

  1. Thanks for ruining twitter

Two recipes that were in the Top 10 most popular in April 2012 were:

Greet new twitter follower (previously 7. Most popular) and

Thanking people in twitter when they mention you or retweet (previously 9.)

Thanking people in Twitter sounds like a good idea – but if someone retweets something offensive, you would then automatically thank them.

Greeting new twitter followers also sounds good but I stopped the rule on the Nomoneyau Twitter account after my brother mentioned that it was quite annoying.


  1. I never want to see that Facebook photo again!

Another example is photos that I was tagged in on facebook that I never want to see again being automatically saved to my Dropbox
folder. I’m sure you get the idea about exceptions to the rule.


Limitations to what you can do

You can only use channels that are setup in IFTTT. There are nearly 60 channels (including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Email/Gmail, Pinboard, Craigslist and a lot I hadn’t heard of). So there is lots of different things that can be done, but IFTTT does have limits.

For example, if you upload a video to Youtube you can automatically have it tweeted to your followers but you can’t automatically upload it to Vimeo. I have also yet to find a recipe that correctly saves my blog articles once posted to Evernote or Dropbox. The recipes I’ve seen (and tried to adapt myself) only save a teaser of the text then provide the link, rather than the full text which I want.


How I use IFTTT

I had a rule to receive an email for every new free kindle bestseller (although I stopped it when I started getting too many emails).

A new post on the NoMoney website (which runs under WordPress) will be posted to the Nomoney Facebook page, the Nomoneyau Twitter account and to my Evernote account (for backup purposes). The post itself gets saved to Evernote
(although as I mentioned above, not quite in the format I would like it).

I have an option to send an email to IFTTT and they will save the attachments into Dropbox. And it sounds a bit vain to write it but I have IFTTT recipes to have any status updates on Facebook added to an Evernote
note and any Facebook tagged photos added to Dropbox.


Is it worth setting up IFTTT if I don’t have X?

IFTTT is very quick to setup and you only need an email address. With your email account you can then setup recipes to receive an email when it is expected to rain tomorrow or when there is a new kindle free bestseller. However, there are a lot more recipes involving channels like Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, or Evernote.


You do need to be careful about setting up rules. IFTTT also can’t do everything I want it to. But despite the limitations – IFTTT does some fantastic stuff. Check out to help you automate the web!

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