The One Online Tool You Need to Make Life Easier (And How to Use It)
By Kristin Wong
If you haven’t tried it already, it’s time to check out If This Then That, better known as IFTTT. It’s an online tool that allows you to connect two apps in order to automate certain tasks. For example, you can tell it to automatically create an iPhone reminder when you star an email in Gmail. Or use your phone's GPS to email your location to a friend.
After signing up at the IFTTT website, you can choose from nearly 300 different apps, which they call Channels, to create “recipes” for the tasks you want completed. There’s a Channel for Gmail, Spotify, Evernote—the list goes on and on. To set up your recipes, you decide which actions will trigger an automated response (like those mentioned above).
Overwhelmed by the seemingly endless possibilities? There are plenty of recipes ready for you to use—below are a handful of our favorites.
RECIPES TO STAY ORGANIZED:
Find your phone: When you lose your phone, having someone call you can be the quickest way to find it. But if you're alone, this is tricky. That's where IFTTT can help. Activate this recipe in order to trigger a phone call with an email.
Track your time: Maybe you want to get an idea of how much time you spend in certain locations—at home, at work, at the gym. You can use this IFTTT recipe to track your phone’s location and automatically log your time spent in specified spots on a Google spreadsheet.
Save attachments: This recipe will help you manage your email attachments. Once activated, the recipe automatically saves any incoming Gmail attachments to your Dropbox account. This way, you eliminate excess clutter in your inbox while keeping important files on hand.
TO MANAGE SOCIAL MEDIA:
Sync your profile pics: If you like keeping your social media accounts consistent, this recipe will make it easy to change all your profile photos at once. When you update your Facebook profile picture, your Twitter picture will update, too.
Save Facebook photos: You can automagically save your Facebook photos, too. Whenever you’re tagged in a new photo, this recipe will save them to your iOS photos, and this one will save them to Google Drive.
Share photos across networks: Instagram already has an option for sharing to Twitter. The only problem is, it shares the photo as a link, so your followers can’t see the photo without navigating to Instagram. This recipe fixes the problem and automatically shares your Instagram pics as native photos in Twitter.
TO SHOP BETTER:
Save receipts: Online shopping means a glut of receipts in your inbox. Rather than delete or archive them (and waste precious storage space), you can use IFTTT recipe to manage them. This recipe creates a PDF of your receipts and orders and saves them to Dropbox.
Find the best price: IFTTT is awesome for tracking prices, too. You can use this recipe to monitor the price listed on any product page, and IFTTT will alert you if it drops.
Hunt for deals: If you like hunting for deals on eBay, this recipe will track your saved searches and email you a daily digest of items. This recipe works similarly for Craigslist: Any time a new item pops up, you’ll be notified.
TO STAY UP-TO-DATE:
Keep tabs on news: There are a number of different recipes for staying current on news. For example:
Get a weekly email digest from the New York Times.
Get an email with breaking news from NASA.
Get an email recap of business news stories from Time.com.
Remember birthdays: Birthdays can be hard to keep up with, but this recipe will send you reminders. It texts your phone annually on specific dates you set. Even easier, this recipe will send you a text when there’s a birthday reminder on your Google Calendar. Here’s the recipe version for Android.