Thursday, June 25, 2015

APP-solutely Amazing: IFTTT

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, oh my! Sometimes this blogger gets overwhelmed by all the ways to share and keep followers updated. It's a vicious cycle. I try to make a schedule, I get behind, and then I give up all hope.  Someday I hope there is an all-in-one, everything-a-blogger-needs app, but for now I've found one that comes pretty close.

HAVE NO FEAR! IFTTT IS HERE!

IFTTT
stands for If This Then That and is an app that creates automatic actions which allow other apps to work together. These actions are called recipes, and there are plenty of pre-made and popular recipes to choose from or you can create your own.

Some of my favorite recipes include:
-Share new blog posts to Facebook.
-Save links from favorited tweets to Pocket.
-Automatically post Instagrams to Facebook.
-Automatically post Instagrams as Twitter photos.

The last one was a game changer! I hated that sharing Instagram photos to Twitter left them in a little link, but now they appear automatically as a twitpic in my feed whenever I post on Insta, without the extra steps on my end of the deal. That is just one example of how IFTTT has streamlined the process.

Now I'm going to walk you through creating a recipe in the app.
The homepage of the app shows a history of recipes that have run and when, as well as provides a list of the recipes you currently have turned on. If for any reason you want to put a recipe on pause, all you have to do is hit the toggle switch on the right. You can also set it up to give you push notifications any time a recipe has run (this comes in handy when you have recipes like the one I'm going to create below).


Step 1. Browse the ready-made recipes. To create a recipe, click the circular mortar + pestle button in the top right corner. Then hit the plus button at the top of the "My Recipes" list.  It will bring you to a screen with various collections of pre-made recipes for you to browse. I'd recommend searching these first to see if one has already been made to suit your needs. The featured and recommended recipes are typically tried and true.

Step 2. Create your own. If you do not find a recipe that works for you, you can create your own by tapping the plus sign at the bottom of your screen. It walks you through the process, providing a multitude of combination options. It even has a little pop up thought bubble that says "Start here!" How easy is that? ;)


Step 3. Choose your trigger. The trigger is your starting app. Apps appear across the top of your screen and you can swipe side to side until you find what you're looking for (or discover an app that already does the trick). Often its easiest to simply use the search bar to hunt for the app you know you need. 

For this action, I wanted to save popular articles from The New York Times about theatre. I always see them floating around Twitter or Facebook after they've been posted, but I wanted a way to save them for later, using the Pocket app. I selected the NYT app as my trigger.

Step 4. Specify your trigger. Within each trigger there will be action options. Some will require multiple steps. For this action I selected "New popular article in section" then had to designate which section I desired. I scrolled through the list, finally finding Theatre, and my trigger was completed.

Step 5. Choose your action. The trigger leads to action, so next you'll have to select the app the recipe will land on. I use Pocket on the regular to save articles and blogposts to read at a later time, and it is among the more popular IFTTT apps used in this category. Within Pocket, there's really only one option "save for later" which makes this step a piece of cake.

ATTENTION: Make sure you have actually downloaded both apps in your recipe onto your phone. It may sound like a silly suggestion, but I previously made recipes I thought were cool but forgot to add the app back to my phone. They won't work if you don't! 

NOTE: You can set the same app as a trigger for multiple recipes and vise versa. I'd recommend browsing the pre-made recipes for your most frequently used apps and see what ways you can simplify your app usage!

Step 6. Finish/save the recipe. TADA! Just like that your app is complete! It will appear at the top of your "My Recipes" list. Some of them require action on your part (such as posting an image to Instagram so that IFTTT can post it to Twitter) and if so, I'd recommend giving it a try shortly after creating the recipe. Most work automatically, and it should give you a notification if the recipe fails. 

Let me know if you try out IFTTT for yourself! I'd love to know what you think of it! And if you have any questions, feel free to send them my way. I'll do my best to sort out an answer.

UPDATE: IFTTT is available for Android and they have a new app DO Button that released recently! I plan to give that one a try today and I'll let you know how it goes! 

What are YOUR favorite productivity apps? 
Would you be interested in seeing more posts like this?

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