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ifttt – Your Personal Assistant for Internet Tasks

Posted by on 29th Jan 2011 | 4 comments

At first glance, I was a bit overwhelmed by the possibilities of ifttt (short for If This Then That). After setting up just one task though, I was really impressed with how easy it was to get ifttt working for me. Not only does it take you step by step through the process in a clean format, but it only takes a a few minutes to complete. The concept is simple: you create tasks that follow the philosophy, “if this happens then do that.”

ifttt lets you create tasks (“triggers and actions”) by using different channels. “Channels are the unique services and devices you use everyday, activated specifically for you.” There are a number of channels already activated for you when you first sign up and you can activate even more from the channels list. Tasks can be turned on and off whenever you choose and you can have up to 20 active tasks at a time. So, I’ll take you through the process of creating a task.

Step 1

Click on “this” to choose your trigger channel.

Choose your trigger channel.

Channels available here include: Craigslist, Delicious, email, Facebook, Google Reader, phone call, Posterous, SMS, Tumblr, Twitter, weather and more. Most channels will require some type of activation/authorization, but you only have to do this once.

Step 2

Choose your trigger type. The number of options here are dependent on the type of trigger channel that you choose. Since I choose Google Reader as my trigger, the options pictured below are what is available.

Choose a trigger.

I want all of my shared items to be automatically posted to Twitter, so I will choose the “new shared item” option.

Step 3

Here is where you actually create and customize your trigger fields (if any setup is needed). For Google Reader, there is nothing required here so you can move on to the next step.

Step 4

Now you’re going to click on “that” to choose your action channel. I, of course, chose Twitter.

Choose your action channel.

Channels available here include: Delicious, email, Facebook, Google Reader, Instapaper, phone call, Read it Later, SMS, Twitter and more.

Step 5

Once again you will have options here to choose from. For Twitter there is only one option and that’s to “post a new tweet.”

Sidenote: If you want to see all of the available options for each trigger you can do that by clicking on an individual item from the channels list. This will let you activate inactive channels as well as view all of the available triggers.

View individual channel status and triggers.

Step 6

Here you can customize your action fields. For Twitter, you can choose which “Add-ins” to use in your tweet. For instance, maybe you want to include the item author or a snippet of the item content or you want to include your own comment (noted in Google Reader). ifttt lets you decide just what to include and in what order.

Customize your action fields.

Step 7

Lastly, you can enter a description for your task so that you can easily differentiate it from other tasks.

Once you have more tasks setup you can filter them, delete, edit, turn on/off and view when they were last triggered from your tasks list. From the number of channels and options available on ifttt, you can see just how useful of a tool it really is.

If you are a social media power user like myself, then ifttt is definitely a must use tool. Unfortunately, you will need an invite to join (the site is barely a month old), but it shouldn’t take too long to receive. Once you are able to give it a try, I hope you’ll enjoy ifttt as much as I do!


Charnita is a full-time freelance writer and blogger with 3+ years of experience, and also the owner of SocialWebTools.info. She's also an early adopter who loves trying out new social media tools along with Web and iOS (iPad) apps. Feel free to connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

4 comments - Leave a reply
  • Posted by Mr.Imran on 29th Jan 2011

    How this will work? Like is this an alternative for twitterfeed? or any other rss feed automator? i am little confused…. Will it work as twitter bot?

  • Posted by dotCOMreport on 4th Feb 2011

    It sounds a bit technical but I think I get the hang of it. I guess it can be used as a type of autoresponder right?
    My recent post Taco Bell Uses Social Media to Combat Class Action Suit

  • Posted by Cherry Rahtu on 11th Feb 2011

    This is really a cool tool! your discovery is awesome.

  • Posted by Busby on 14th Apr 2011

    Does anyone know how to set this up so it will welcome new followers?
    My recent post OUT NOW- John OCallaghan – Unfold