The Ultimate IFTTT Guide: Use The Web’s Most Powerful Tool Like A Pro

By Albert Martinez, https://twitter.com/albrtk
cover The Ultimate IFTTT Guide: Use The Web’s Most Powerful Tool Like A Pro
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Table Of Contents

§1 – Introduction

§2 – How To Supercharge Your Time With IFTTT

§3 – The Cookbook: Which Recipes Are Best?

§4 – Conclusion

1. Introduction

1.1 Just What The Heck Is IFTTT Anyway?

IFTTT is an automation that will enable you to connect 2 services so that, when something happens with one service, a trigger goes off and an action takes place automatically on the other.

For example: let’s say that you are a photography fan who uses Instagram constantly throughout the day. You love taking photos with your mobile device, touching them up and sharing them for everyone to see. Your followers seem to love the photos, so you think that maybe you’d like to get a bit more serious about this whole photography endeavor.

We’ll get to photography-specific examples before this introduction is over, but the uses certainly don’t stop with photography. In fact, I would recommend that you give IFTTT a try regardless of your walk of life. It’s why I’m outlining uses for everyone – from artists to students to professionals – in this guide.

1.2 Why Should I Use IFTTT?

Most people nowadays spend hours in front of the computer for myriad reasons. Some of them like to watch videos, download music, read useful articles, and lots of other fun activities. At the same time, using the Internet has increasingly become a part of the average person’s work life.

Whatever the case may be for you, you will eventually ask to yourself if there’s a way to do the more repetitive tasks automatically. This is where IFTTT comes into play. Using the tools laid out in this guide properly, you’ll be able to save enormous amounts of precious time that you can use as you see fit later on.

Furthermore, if you’re an employee who is looking to automate some of her work, this will allow you to do that without so much as breaking a sweat. Yes, IFTTT could give you an edge on your career as well!

1.3 What Can IFTTT Really Do For Me?

Throughout the course of this guide you’ll find numerous examples of what IFTTT could do for you depending on what specific profession/activity you’re trying to streamline. For the sake of this explanation, we are going to continue with the aspiring photographer example.

So, we’ve decided that photography could become an amazing hobby and who knows, maybe even become a full time activity later on. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For right now I want to see how we can keep ourselves excited and inspired for our newly-found passion.

Here are some photography-related hacks you can set up with IFTTT in about 5 minutes.

Recipe #1 – Instagram Automatic Backup in Dropbox

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The example: Imagine that you’re walking through the street, nearby a park. All of the sudden you see some beautiful potential photography happening right in front of you. What do you do? You take out your mobile device, shoot an Instagram and it will get automatically saved to your Dropbox account. No manual selecting and manual uploading. Take care of creating beautiful images; IFTTT will take care of them so that they are accessible on your computer later.

Recipe #2 – Download Instagram Likes To Dropbox

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The example: Your photography is evolving, you’re getting a lot of fans and even more likes on your photos, but you will still need inspiration to keep going. Using this recipe, you will be able to go about your day and use Instagram like you usually do, but with an additional benefit. Whenever you see a picture that you like, you’ll just click on “like” and it will automatically be uploaded to your Dropbox. This can serve as an automated “inspiration folder” of sorts. It will keep you excited as you go along and it will enable you to create even better photography!

These are only two of the thousands of practical recipes that you can create using IFTTT. The brilliant thing about IFTTT is that it has something for everybody. As of this writing, there are nearly 70 different services that you can use for creating recipes and the list is always increasing.

Furthermore, the team has already written a couple of articles expanding upon why you need to use IFTTT. You can find them here, here and here!

Let’s go over the basics of how IFTTT works, then dive into examples.

2. How To Supercharge Your Time With IFTTT

2.1 What Are Channels?

A “Channel” is nothing more than a fancy word for a service. The brilliant thing about IFTTT is that its variety of channels allows it to offer something to everybody.

As of this writing, there are nearly 70 different channels that you can use for creating recipes and the list is always increasing.

Some of the most famous and used channels include: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Youtube, SoundCloud, Dropbox, Evernote, Pocket & many, many more!

2.2 What Are Recipes?

Recipes are what make IFTTT worth your time. Basically they are the combination of 2 channels, using a “Trigger” and an “Action”. When something happens on one channel, it triggers an action.

Confused? Don’t be, it will all make sense. Just know that recipes are formulas you set up deciding which triggers will prompt which actions.

2.3 How Do I Make a Recipe? (A Quickstart Guide)

Glad you asked! Making recipes is a snap with IFTTT.

First things first, you need to create an account with IFTTT. Head over to IFTTT and you will be greeted with the following screen:

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Then, when you click on Join IFTTT, you’ll need to fill a very short form:

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After a few seconds, you’re done. You’ll be taken to the basic IFTTT information page, but mainly we want to get right to the action.

Since now we can actually create the recipe itself, I’ll be creating the first recipe that we laid out in the previous chapter. The first step is to click on Create, which will take you to the following:

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We want to click on THIS. After doing so, we will be taken to the next step:

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As you can imagine, we will select the Instragram trigger, which will then ask us to activate Instagram just this once. Having done that, we’ll choose a trigger action:

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I’m going to select the first one and move on to the next step. We’re going to click on THAT on the following screen:

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Naturally, we’re going to select Dropbox and activate it just the one time that it’s necessary. After doing this, we will be greeted by the second batch of trigger actions:

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We’ll select the first trigger and be taken to this:

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In this case, it’s asking us where to grab the photos, how to name them and where it should put them. I decided to change the format of the name so that they’re named according to the date in which I post them. All you have to do is click on the “ingredient” and you’ll get a dropdown as shown above. We take care of that and we get this:

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Just give a small description of what your recipe does and hit the create recipe button! Done & done, this is the end result:

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The entirety of this process takes just a few moments and it will be incredibly useful to you. But, surprisingly there’s an even simpler way to add recipes to your inventory. How? Just keep reading.

2.4 Can I Use Pre-Made Recipes?

Yes! In fact, you can browse other people’s recipes and even sort them out by popularity, date and hotness (popularity)! Just click on Browse up at the top and you should see something like this:

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Amazingly, using pre-made recipes is even easier than creating your own. We’re going to use the first available recipe in the browse list (which defaults to what’s hot) and we’ll get this:

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Just click on Use Recipe and you’re done. Simple, quick and clean! It should be noted that some recipes will let you change the ingredients in it, but that can be done easily as demonstrated in the last section.

2.5 Now What?

Now we ride into the sunset. Or, alternatively, we can play with our newly found super powers! Believe me, after a while of using IFTTT, you truly feel like you are a super hero.

Not only that, but when other people see how everything works smoothly in your world, they’ll want to get in on the action too, which only makes IFTTT better!

As of this moment, the number of possible creatable recipes is of about 100,000 and rising! Don’t let this overwhelm you though. IFTTT can be as simple as it is useful.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to use IFTTT to your maximum advantage depending specifically on what your activities of choice are and what you’re looking to automate…

Let’s get started!

3. The Cookbook: Which Recipes Are Best?

3.1 The Top 10 Recipes You Should Be Using Right Now

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Regardless of what you’re trying to accomplish with IFTTT, these are some of the best recipes available. I highly recommend you check them out.

Recipe #1 – Daily SMS Weather Forecast

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The result: You get IFTTT to send an SMS each morning telling you what the weather conditions are going to be for the day.

What it’s good for: Knowing if you should carry an umbrella around or if you don’t need that blazer after all.

Recipe #2 – Wake Up Call

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The result: You get a call at a time of your preference with an automated message.

What it’s good for: We’ve all been in a situation when an alarm clock didn’t do the trick. This could set an end to late arrivals and people who don’t like Johnny/Jenny-come-lately, which can be a large amount of your friends, family and work colleagues.

Recipe #3 – Starred Emails in Gmail To Evernote

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The result: When you mark an email with a star on Gmail, a copy of it is sent to your Evernote account.

What it’s good for: Setting up appointments and storing important emails. This is extremely useful, especially on the long run.

Recipe #4 – Daily National Geographic Picture

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The result: National Geographic is famous for a lot of things, not the least of which is their stunning photographs. Set this up and you’ll get an amazing piece of art in your email every day.

What it’s good for: These photos can be amazing to give you a better appreciation of nature and you can even use them as wallpapers!

Recipe #5 – Get a Reminder SMS Before Events In Google Calendar

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The result: You get a friendly reminder via text of the events you’ve set up in your Google calendar.

What it’s good for: Avoiding missing important meetings and events. If Woody Allen is to be believed at all, 80% of success is showing up.

Recipe #6 – Email To Call To Find Lost Phone

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The result: We’ve all lost our phone before. With this recipe you get a call when you send an email to the specified address, helping you hear where it is.

What it’s good for: Find your phone, quickly!

Recipe #7 – Automatic Daily Tweet

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The result: Your account sends a tweet every day with whatever content you choose.

What it’s good for: Saying hi to everyone in the morning or just before winding down for the day. I’ve had this on for a while and people just love it, you get mentions and good wishes with no extra effort.

Recipe #8 – Daily Wikipedia Article Sent To Feedly

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The result: With the demise of Google Reader, Feedly has positioned itself as one of the most popular RSS readers in existence. You’ll get a random article from Wikipedia delivered to your Feedly feed each day.

What it’s good for: Increasing your knowledge daily. Coming up with random facts and impressing friends is also a nice perk.

Recipe #9 – Foursquare History To Google Calendar

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The result: Your Foursquare check-ins will be logged to your Google Calendar.

What it’s good for: Knowing exactly where you have been and at what time. If you leave this one on for a while and check it back, it almost feels like time traveling. It’s great for nostalgia value, and remembering places.

Recipe #10 – IFTTT Updates Sent To Your Email

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The result: You get an email whenever IFTTT has an announcement.

What it’s good for: Keeping up with one of the most easy-to-use, yet cutting edge Internet tools of the modern world. I highly recommend you do this.

3.2 The Top 5 Recipes For Saving Money

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Recipe #1 – Top Free Amazon Albums Sent To Email

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The result: You get an email whenever Amazon adds an album to their free MP3 list.

What it’s good for: Getting new music legally and for free!

Recipe #2 – Automatic Email Alerts For New Craigslist Listings

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The result: You get an email notification whenever there’s a new posting in Craigslist for a search term that you specify.

What it’s good for: Hunting down all sorts of goods and services. Get an email when someone posts a listing for a car, a phone or maybe even real estate. Whatever you can think of is pretty much possible to hunt down with this recipe. This will definitely give you an edge if you’re the bargain-hunting type like me.

Recipe #3 – New Top Free eBooks For Kindle Sent to Email

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The result: You get an email when Amazon adds a new book to their top 100 free eBooks list.

What it’s good for: Reading is the best. Reading something for free, legally, is even better.

Recipe #4 – Get Reminded Before Rent Is Due

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The result: You get a text whenever the rent is due, or a number of days before.

What it’s good for: Avoid having the landlord on your case yet again with this recipe. This is also good for avoiding penalties due to late payment.

Recipe #5 – Keep Tabs On Potentially Lucrative Stocks

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The result: If you have any kinds of investments on the stock market or would like to keep a close eye on a particular stock symbol, this will send you an SMS with information about it.

What it’s good for: Making money. If you’re on the hunt for new purchases, want to expand your portfolio or just need to keep an eye on a particular stock, this will be great for you.

3.3 The Top 5 Recipes For Better Relationships

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Recipe #1 – Appointment Assistant

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The result: You call the IFTTT number and an appointment is added to your Google Calendar.

What it’s good for: Siri notwithstanding, this one is actually pretty nice for people who like to keep things organized and want to feel like James Bond at the same time.

Recipe #2 – Automatic Christmas Facebook Post

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The result: A message is posted automatically for you on the morning of Christmas on Facebook.

What it’s good for: Making people think you’re awake on Christmas morning, when you really have an eggnog hangover.

Recipe #3 – New Contact Email Tracker

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The result: This one is exclusive for people with access to iCloud. Basically you get an email with the contact info of the people that you add to your contact list.

What it’s good for: Keeping track of the people you meet.

Recipe #4 – Birthday Reminders

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The result: Get a reminder at a date of your choosing before someone’s birthday through an SMS message.

What it’s good for: Keeping the people who you care about happy and avoiding divorce fillings due to emotional negligence.

Recipe #5 – Feed Buffer with Content from Google Alerts

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The result: This posts content from Google Alerts into the popular service Buffer, which basically keeps a steady stream of content available for your readers.

What it’s good for: If you’re part of a group that shares a common interest or just would like to keep people updated on a topic that you’re into, this will be very useful to you.

3.4 The Top 5 Recipes For Job Hunters

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Recipe #1 – Automatic Craigslist Email for New Jobs

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The result: Whenever a job is posted on Craigslist, you get an email notification. Searching means you can cater this to jobs you’re especially interested in.

What it’s good for: Being on top of the latest job postings on Craigslist. Sending your resume before everybody else gives you the edge.

Recipe #2 – Evernote Voice Memos

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The result: You call a number with a message, which is then posted to your Evernote account.

What it’s good for: Keeping track of job leads or set up reminders to follow up with a potential employer.

Recipe #3 – Keep Track of Important Craigslist Job Leads in Evernote

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The result: You get Craigslist posts saved to your Evernote account.

What it’s good for: Collecting job leads and categorizing them for easier follow-up.

Recipe #4 – Automatic Email Updates For New Jobs in Indeed

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The result: Indeed is a job search engine. When they post a job you could be interested in, you get an email.

What it’s good for: Getting even more job leads as Indeed is a pretty wide aggregator of job listings.

Recipe #5 – SMS Alert When You Get a Job Offer

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The result: You get a text notification when you get a job offer.

What it’s good for: You got the job! Now celebrate like a proper gentleman/lady.

3.5 The Top 5 Recipes To Automate Your Social Life

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Recipe #1 – Facebook Photos to Dropbox

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The result: All the photos in your Facebook feed are saved to your Dropbox account.

What it’s good for: Backup. Avoid losing those precious memories if Facebook goes down for whatever reason.

Recipe #2 – Tweets = Facebook Status Updates

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The result: Your tweets are also posted as Facebook status updates.

What it’s good for: If you have your social sites fragmented, this can be a good way to let everyone know what you’re up to.

Recipe #3 – Backup Contacts to Google Drive

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The result: Another iCloud exclusive, this one will back up your contact list to a spreadsheet on Google Drive.

What it’s good for: Avoid losing your contact list and valuable information. Backup, basically.

Recipe #4 – Automatic Tagged Photos to Dropbox

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The result: If you are tagged on a photo on Facebook, this recipe will download those photos to your Dropbox.

What it’s good for: Keeping track of the photos you appear in. This is a nifty tool.

Recipe #5 – Automatic Facebook Log Sent to Evernote

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The result: Your Facebook updates are saved as an Evernote document.

What it’s good for: Keeping track of what you say on Facebook. This will basically create an automated diary for you!

3.6 The Top 5 Recipes For Tech Lovers

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Recipe #1 – Get MakeUseOf Posts Sent to Your Pocket

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The result: You get the amazing posts from MakeUseOf sent directly to your Pocket. Pocket is basically a “read it later” app available for pretty much all desktop and mobile platforms.

What it’s good for: Keeping up with the latest tech posts from one of the best sites in the whole wide world icon wink image

Recipe #2 – Voicemail to Email

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The result: You dial the number and it automatically transcribes the message and sends it to you through email.

What it’s good for: Note-to-self-type messages. Also, feeling like a ninja.

Recipe #3 – Get Free iPad Apps Sent to Email

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The result: You get an email whenever AppShopper detects a new iPad app is free.

What it’s good for: Saving money and discovering new apps. This is one of my favorites. There’s also a feed for iPhone, if you’re interested.

Recipe #4 – YouTube Favorite to Dropbox

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The result: This one saves the URL of your favorite videos on YouTube to your Dropbox.

What it’s good for: Depending on how long you’ve had your YouTube account, you probably have more than a few dozen videos on your favorite list. This will allow you to keep track of them and organize them properly.

Recipe #5 – Dropbox Backup on Box

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The result: You get a file from Dropbox into Box.

What it’s good for: Even if Dropbox was not originally intended as a service used for backup, that’s what a lot of people use it for. This can serve as a redundant backup in case one of your files goes missing. This can be a lifesaver.

3.7 The Top 5 Recipes For Music Lovers

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Recipe #1 – Free Amazon Music to Email

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The result: You get an email with music whenever Amazon posts new free releases.

What it’s good for: I had posted this in the first list, but I really can’t recommend it enough. I have discovered a lot of amazing artists through this particular recipe that I would have otherwise missed.

Recipe #2 – SoundCloud Likes to Dropbox

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The result: When you use your SoundCloud account to “like” a track, it gets saved to your Dropbox account automatically.

What it’s good for: Getting all your best newly discovered music on your Dropbox. However, it’s very important that you note that this one can be hit and miss. It will only get the MP3 file if it’s available for download, but you always get the URL at the very least.

Recipe #3 – Last.fm Tracks to Evernote Log

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The result: Whenever you use Last.fm to “scrobble” tracks (posting them automatically) a file is updated on your Evernote account with the time and track info for that song.

What it’s good for: Keeping track of what you listen accurately and automatically.

Recipe #4 – SoundCloud Favorites to Facebook

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The result: When you use SoundCloud to favorite a track it’s posted to Facebook. Instantly.

What it’s good for: Letting your friends and family know of new music that you’ve enjoyed so that they can enjoy it as well.

Recipe #5 – Last.fm Likes Sent as Tweets

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The result: When you “heart” a song through Last.fm, a tweet will be sent on your behalf stating so.

What it’s good for: Pretty much the same as the last recipe, except for Twitter.

3.8 The Top 5 Recipes For Photographers

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Recipe #1 – iOS Photos Backup in Dropbox

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The result: This saves the photos from your iOS device to your Dropbox.

What it’s good for: Keeping a clean record of the photos you take for post-processing or just general backup.

Recipe #2 – Instagrams Go To Facebook Automatically

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The result: The photos you post to your Instagram also get posted to a Facebook album called “Instagram”.

What it’s good for: Even though Facebook acquired Instagram last year, their integration has been mostly lacking. This recipe will fix that, keeping your photos visible on both streams at all times with no extra hassle.

Recipe #3 – Instagram Archive on Evernote

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The result: Your Instagram pictures get archived to your Evernote account.

What it’s good for: An extra backup.

Recipe #4 – Instagrams Posted in Tumblr

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The result: Your Instagram pics are also posted in your Tumblr.

What it’s good for: A large number of the people who are on Instagram are also on Tumblr. If you’re a user of both these services, this one will do the dirty work for you.

Recipe #5 – Instagram Dropbox Screensaver

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The result: When you like a picture it’s saved to a Dropbox folder, which you can then set up to show as your screensaver.

What it’s good for: This one is great for gaining inspiration pretty much on demand. It’ll get your creative juices flowing.

3.9 The Top 5 Recipes For Professionals

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Recipe #1 – Attachments Saved to Dropbox

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The result: When you send an email with an attachment, it’s saved to a Dropbox folder.

What it’s good for: This one is especially useful for people who have had the experience of accidentally deleting an important document only to being unable to recover it later on. This one is also useable with Gmail and in fact, it can also save the attachments you receive.

Recipe #2 – Save Gmails to Evernote Selectively

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The result: When you label an email as “Evernote” a copy will be sent to Evernote.

What it’s good for: Keeping track of important emails and conversations.

Recipe #3 – LinkedIn Log to Evernote

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The result: When you post an update on your LinkedIn feed, it gets saved as an Evernote document.

What it’s good for: Knowing exactly what you said and when. This will prove useful for accountability and miscellaneous personal purposes.

Recipe #4 – Advanced Gmail Auto-Responder

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The result: Set up a Gmail auto responder message.

What it’s good for: Yes, I know that Gmail has its own “out of office” system, but it’s very limited. This recipe gets around most limitations. Give it a try!

Recipe #5 – Automatic Campfire Updates

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The result: A message is posted to your Campfire feed at a time of your choosing.

What it’s good for: Campfire is a wildly popular project management tool. You can use this recipe for special reminders or to set up weekly meetings automatically!

3.10 The Top 5 Recipes For Parents

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Recipe #1 – Free Children’s eBooks Alert Via RSS or Automatic Evernote Log

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The result: Get notified through Evernote whenever a new book is posted to Kindle’s free Child Book’s list.

What it’s good for: Getting the latest free books for your toddler, on demand.

Recipe #2 – Birthday Reminders as SMS

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The result: Get a text message reminding you of the upcoming birthday of your children.

What it’s good for: This one I posted previously, but believe me, very few things are more gratifying to a child than being celebrated on his or her special day. Avoid unintentional slips and make the young ones feel special.

Recipe #3 – Blooming Child News Updates

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The result: Get an email whenever Blooming Child posts new content.

What it’s good for: Blooming Child is one of the most popular parenting sites. Increase your parenting knowledge by receiving these automated emails.

Recipe #4 – Save Facebook Logs on Facebook to Dropbox and Save Memories

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The result: Saves your Facebook posts in a document and saves it to Dropbox.

What it’s good for: Parents, you know how often you post your little one’s accomplishments and funny sayings to your Facebook. This will allow you to go through said gems whenever you want.

Recipe #5 – Get Alerts for Ebay Gifts Automatically Via Twitter DM or SMS Message

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The result: Get a direct message sent to you through Twitter when a new item appears on eBay.

What it’s good for: Buying the perfect gift! This recipe can be easily adjusted to match whatever item you have in mind that appears on eBay. It can also be adjusted to work through SMS, email and lots of other IFTTT channels easily.

3.11 The Top 5 Recipes For News Junkies

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Recipe #1 – YouTube Videos Set to Watch Later Are Sent To Pocket

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The result: Get the videos that you mark as “watch later” on YouTube directly into your Pocket app.

What it’s good for: Sometimes you don’t have time to keep up with all the news that happen around the world. This will ensure that you watch all the news you’re interested in.

Recipe #2 – Pocket Favorites to Evernote

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The result: Get a copy of your favorite Pocket items into Evernote.

What it’s good for: Some articles require double or triple readings for inspection and/or comprehension purposes. This recipe will allow that to be done seamlessly.

Recipe #3 – Pocket Items Are Sent to Instapaper

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The result: When you get a piece of content to your Pocket, it also gets send to Instapaper.

What it’s good for: If you’re like me, you like and use both of these news apps. Make sure that you don’t miss anything using this recipe.

Recipe #4 – Send Pocket Favorite as Tweets

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The result: When you mark an item as a favorite in the Pocket app, a tweet is created linking to that particular piece.

What it’s good for: Keeping your followers on the loop easily and letting them know what you like to read or what you agree with.

Recipe #5 – Automatically Add News to Your Instapaper Feed

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The result: The content from a specific feed gets automatically sent to Instapaper.

What it’s good for: Keeping up with all the latest news, regardless of what kind of news you enjoy. Just add the RSS feed to the recipe and you’re all set!

4. Conclusion

IFTTT is an amazing tool that you can use for an amazing amount of practical and even fun uses. Getting started with IFTTT is amazingly simple, yet fun at the same time.

As you get acquainted with IFTTT, you’ll start to notice the numerous possibilities for recipes that you’ll begin to come up with.

This guide serves as a compilation of all the best recipes created to date for you to play with, modify and use to your own advantage, but there’s still a huge amount of possibilities on the horizon.

Stay tuned to MakeUseOf for more!

One More Thing…

IFTTT very recently came out with the IFTTT iOS app (which we have already reviewed). I recommend you check it out as I have installed it already and have created some new recipes exclusive to the platform. An Android version is said to be in the works.

Also, all the recipes used in this guide are available for you to use right this moment. Just take your pick and enjoy the benefits.

You can save money, get a job, find a new car, have a better social life, be a better parent, stay informed or just simply become more efficient as a person. The possibilities are enormous, but entirely possible and even amusing to consider.

Have fun!

Guide Published: October 2013

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