What is IFTTT and how does it work?

(Pocket-lint) – The internet is a wonderful thing chock-full of fun and useful experiences, but it can also complicate our lives.

With so many services and apps to explore, you’ve probably experienced difficulty in managing them or even completing basic tasks. Luckily for you, there’s a single tool available that acts as an ultimate automation service for all your internet-connected things.

It’s called IFTTT and it’s very straightforward to use. Below, we explain everything you need to know.

What is IFTTT?

IFTTT is both a website and a mobile app. The service launched in 2010 with the following slogan: “Put the Internet to work for you”.

It’s changed a lot in recent years, however. Currently, with IFTTT, you can connect all your “services” together so that tasks are automatically triggered and completed. There are numerous ways you can connect all your services – and the resulting combinations are called “Applets”.

Applets essentially automate your daily workflow, whether it’s managing smart home devices or apps and websites. So, for instance, if you own the Philips Hue smart lighting system, you could use IFTTT to automatically turn on a light every time you’re tagged in a Facebook photo.

In another example, you could use IFTTT to automatically email readers when they comment on your WordPress blog.

What does IFTTT stand for?

The acronym stands for ‘If This, Then That’. You pronounce IFTTT like “gift” but without the “g”.

IFTTTWhat is IFTTT and how does it work image 2

How does IFTTT work?


You can sign up for a free account on the IFTTT website, though IFTTT Pro is now also an option for users (and, typically, creators) who want unlimited Applet creation, multi-step Applets with queries, conditional logic and multiple actions, and more.

It’s a one-step process that only requires an email, username, and password. You can even sign in via Facebook and your Google ID. Once you’ve joined, you’ll be able to discover and set up your first Applet.


IFTTT currently supports hundreds of services. You’ll find integrations for everything from robot vacuums to Facebook.

Note: Services were once called “channels.”


Applets are specific things that can happen when you connect services.

For instance, you could use an Applet to sync Amazon Alexa to-dos with your Google Calendar, or you could use one that lets you create events in your iPhone Calendar via Google Assistant. There are tonnes of Applets to choose from; IFTTT says there are 18 million users running more than a billion Applets a month.

Note: Applets were once called “recipes.”

How do you set up an IFTTT Applet?

Here’s an example Applet for Twitter and Instagram:

The Roborock S7 robot vacuum – we have just entered a new era of automated cleaning, and it's amazing

  1. Log in to the IFTTT website.
  2. Go to your username and click services.
  3. You may see some auto-generated Applets based on your account information, such as your time zone and email address.
  4. Search for an Applet or a service you’d like to find a relevant Applet for, such as Instagram.
  5. Select the one you want to use. For instance, there’s an Applet that lets you tweet your Instagrams as native photos on Twitter.
  6. Click the “Turn on” button to turn on the Applet.
  7. IFTTT will ask for permission to access both your Instagram and Twitter. Click OK and then authorize access to each service.
  8. Once done, you’ll be brought back to the turned-on Applet on IFTTT.
  9. To view your Applets, select My Applets from the top of your IFTTT dashboard.

How do you create an IFTTT Applet?

  1. Login to IFTTT’s website.
  2. Go to your username and click New Applet.
  3. Select the +This in the “If This Then That” logo toward the centre-top of the page. This will allow you to look for the “trigger” that will tell your Applet when to run.
  4. You can then search for and select a service. In this example, we’ll use Twitter. You’ll need to connect to it and authorize access to your account.
  5. You’ll then see a choice of triggers. Pick one. In this example, we’ll use “New tweet from search”. Maybe there’s a tech conference happening and you want to collect all the tweets used with that conference’s hashtag.
  6. Now, you need to select the +That in the “If This Then That” logo toward the centre-top of the page. This is where you’ll specify what you want to happen next.
  7. Choose an action service. For instance, you can select the weekly email digest option. This will bundle up all those hashtagged tweets.
  8. Review your Applet and click Finish when done.
  9. It’ll now be live. To view your Applet, select My Applets from the top of your IFTTT dashboard.
  10. If you want to change it or reconfigure it, click the gear icon on the Applet’s card, adjust the “ingredients” (aka details), and click save.

What are IFTTT widgets?

Widgets are shortcuts that allow you to run certain Applets with the touch of a button on your iOS or Android device. In order to use them, you need to have the IFTTT app on your phone. After you turn on a widget Applet, you can add it as an icon in your Today screen on iOS, or your home screen on iOS or Android. Step-by-step instructions on how to do that are available from IFTTT’s Help Centre.

  • The Camera widget: Connects your phone’s camera to IFTTT and allows you to run Applets when you take photos. When you take a picture through the widget, the Applet will let you send it to a social site, back up to the cloud, or share it with team members.
  • The Note widget: This allows you to write quick notes and run Applets that send them to email, your calendar, Twitter, etc. It’s a simple way to add content to a notebook, to-do list, calendar, or even a Spotify playlist.
  • The Button widget: Connects to other services with Applets and acts as a remote control. You can use it to toggle your lights, log your location, or trigger a phone call.

Want to know more?

You’re now a beginner IFTTT user. Go have fun exploring the countless ways to automate and simplify your life. Check out IFTTT’s help hub for more details on how the service works as well as handy tutorials.

Writing by Elyse Betters. Editing by Conor Allison.

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