If This Then That – Tasks, Recipes & Channels

“If This Then That” is one of the core operating statements for computer programming. It’s a simple set of commands to tell a computer to perform a particular action when a specific condition exists, like “If the enter key is pressed, then move the cursor to the next line”. You can use the web service offered at this simple concept to perform some very useful automated tasks.

Don’t let the programming talk intimidate you, IFTTT is dead simple to set up and operate. After logging in, you’re dropped on the dashboard page. At the top of the dashboard you’ll find buttons for the three main elements of the service, Tasks, Recipes and Channels.

Channels are a collection of the services that you use on the Internet, like Facebook, Twitter, GMail, Instagram, Tumblr, Evernote and more. Setting the channels up is as simple as clicking on the icon for the service and following a few steps to grant IFTTT access to your information.

After setting up a few channels, you can then set up a few tasks. Tasks are a made up of triggers and actions, a trigger event occurs and IFTTT performs the defined action. Suppose you wanted to have all photos that you upload to Facebook backed up on your DropBox account. From the Tasks page, click the big blue Create Task button. The phrase “if this then that” shows up in nice big letters. Click on “this” and you’ll get to choose the service that you want to watch for a trigger, Facebook in this case. You then get to choose from predefined triggers, we’ll choose “You upload a new photo” and click “Create Trigger”.

You’ll now see the Facebook icon inserted like so. if  then that. Click on “that” and you can choose the channel to perform an action with. We’ll click the DropBox icon followed by “Add file from URL” and then the “Create action” button. Give the task a name and click “Create task”. You’re all set!

The number of possible combinations for triggers and actions can seem overwhelming. That’s where Recipes come in. Recipes are tasks that others have come up with and shared. Just browse through them and you’re bound to find one to do what you want. There’s recipes to log your tweets to a DropBox file, Tweet when you post a link on Facebook, save your favorited tweets to Evernote, etc.

A lot can be accomplished with the simple statement of “If This Then That” and has put it to great use. Go create an account and play around a bit.


About Todd E. Grady

I'm a dad, husband, IT guy and geek of all trades.

Posted on 06.01.2012, in Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Well explained! Thanks!

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