What is IFTTT? The Ultimate Guide

IFTTT makes your smart home devices, home security, and more combine forces to perform tasks to make your life easier. You may think you don’t have the technical skills to use IFTTT, but don’t worry. You don’t need to know coding, and we’ll cover your bases to get you started in just minutes.


What you need to know about IFTTT


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What is IFTTT?

IFTTT stands for “If This Then That.” Basically, if certain conditions are met, then something else will happen. The “if this” part is called a trigger, and the “then that” part is called an action.

Here’s an example. Say you have a security camera and some smart lights. You set up an IFTTT task so that when your security camera detects movement it automatically turns on your home’s smart lights. Motion is the “if this,” or trigger, and turning on the lights is the “then that,” or action.

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IFTTT 101

IFTTT, created in 2010, is a software platform that joins smart home devices, social media, delivery apps, and more so they can perform automated tasks.

Now that you know what If This Then That means, let’s jump into why it’s useful. Typically, getting two smart home devices or services to work together is tricky if they are from different brands. That’s where IFTTT comes in handy.

Want a Philips Hue light to turn on when your SimpliSafe doorbell rings? They use different apps, so they may not be able to “talk” to each other. IFTTT introduces the devices to each other to complete the task.

While the devices don’t need to be compatible with each other for IFTTT to control and automate tasks all around your home, the devices do need to be IFTTT compatible. Chances are, that won’t be a problem. More than 650 devices and services work with IFTTT.¹

Sounds cool, right? Before you jump into using IFTTT, there are a few components that you need to know about: applets and services.

What are IFTTT applets?

IFTTT uses applets to get tasks done. Applets (once called IFTTT recipes) are exactly what they sound like. They’re mini-apps that help two or more apps talk to each other and collaborate to perform tasks.

For example, one applet docks your iRobot vacuum cleaner with a simple Google Assistant voice command so you don’t need to open the vac’s app. Another applet will make your Philips Hue lights blink as your Alexa timer counts down to zero so you don’t need to hear Alexa to know the timer is about to finish. This is an excellent task to add to a smart home for someone with hearing loss.

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Tasks in the billions

More than a billion applets are utilized by IFTTT users each month.²

There are thousands of applets you can choose from to perform a wide range of tasks. Here are some more examples of IFTTT applets:

  • Sync your Google Calendar with your Alexa to-dos
  • Make your Philips Hue light change colors when it’s raining by connecting it to Weather Underground
  • Use Google Assistant to create an event on your iOS calendar
  • Set your Alexa to play your favorite song when your security system detects that you’ve arrived home
  • Sync Google Calendar to your Apple Calendar
  • Have your smart porch light come on when it rains by connecting it to a weather app

What are IFTTT services?

Apps, smart home devices, virtual assistants, programs, and websites that work with IFTTT are called services.

Here are some IFTTT-compatible services:

Security systems

Smart home devices

  • Google Home
  • Alexa
  • August
  • iRobot
  • Fitbit
  • GE smart appliances
  • Neato
  • WeMo
  • Samsung smart appliances
  • Honeywell thermostats
  • Whirlpool smart appliances
  • Philips Hue
  • TP-Link Kasa
  • Wyze
  • Sonos

Family

  • Dominos
  • Twitter
  • Spotify
  • SoundCloud
  • New York Times
  • Evernote
  • OneNote
  • Vimeo
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitch

You can find a complete list of IFTTT compatible services on their website.

IFTTT pricing

Signing up on the app or website for an IFTTT account is free. You can use unlimited applets, but you can only create three applets with the free account. An IFTTT Pro account subscription gives you more applet creation features and unlimited applet creation for $3.99 per month.

How to use IFTTT

Using IFTTT is so easy that anyone can master it in minutes. You just need an account. From there, you’re a few clicks away from done.

  1. Install the IFTTT app on Android or iPhone, or use the IFTTT website.
  2. Sign up by connecting your Apple, Facebook, or Google account, or sign up with your email address.
  3. Choose Explore from the home screen or dashboard of the website to find applets. You can type what you’re looking for in the search bar or scroll through a list of popular IFTTT applets.
  4. Choose an applet.
  5. Allow permissions for the app or service the applet will be accessing.
  6. Follow the on-screen directions.

You can use as many applets as you like. There’s no limit unless the applet you want doesn’t exist. In that case, you can make one.

Light Bulb
Our favorite applet

You can set up an IFTTT applet to turn on your porch light when the Domino’s app says your order is on the way.

How to create your own IFTTT applet

Creating an applet isn’t any harder than using one.

  1. Go to the applet creation tool or tap on Create in the IFTTT app.
  2. Choose If This.
  3. Add the service you would like to connect from the menu.
  4. Select a trigger from the list provided.
  5. Choose Then That.
  6. Select an action.
  7. Follow the on-screen prompts.

Creating an applet using the free IFTTT tools can be a bit limiting. You can’t develop multi-step applets, and you can only make three applets. An IFTTT Pro account ($3.99 per month) gives you multi-step options, and there isn’t a limit to how many applets you can create.

IFTTT safety

Like with any other app, you should take precautions to keep your data safe. If you lose your phone, someone can control any service you have connected to the app. We recommend going into the IFTTT app account settings and enabling the two-step verification to keep your services safe.

Final Word

If you want to get more out of your smart home devices and services, we highly recommend jumping into IFTTT. It makes all your favorite tech work together in sweet, sweet harmony to make your life easier. We also think that the upgrade to the IFTTT Pro account is worth it since it only costs a few dollars a month and lets you use IFTTT at its full potential.

Want to learn more about home automation? Check out our home automation guide for beginners.

IFTTT FAQ

Yes, the basic account is free. The Pro account is $3.99 per month.

Yes, there are many applets that make Alexa and Google Assistant even more useful. To find them, search for Alexa or Google Assistant with the applet search box.

No, you cannot make apps or devices compatible.

Alina Bradford
Written by
Alina Bradford
Alina has been reviewing the latest tech for more than a decade and has contributed her insights to CNET, CBS, Digital Trends, MTV, Top Ten Reviews, and many others. She specializes in smart home and security technology, working to make gadgets less mystifying one article at a time. In the early 2000s, Alina worked as a volunteer firefighter, earning her first responder certification. Her activities aren’t nearly as dangerous today. Her hobbies include fixing up her 100-year-old house, doing artsy stuff, and going to the lake with her family.

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