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(Pocket-lint) - The internet is a wonderful thing chock-full of fun and useful experiences, but it can also complicate our lives.

With so many services and apps to explore, you've probably experienced difficulty in managing them or even completing basic tasks. Luckily for you, there's a single tool available that acts as an ultimate automation service for all your internet-connected things.

It's called IFTTT and it's very straightforward to use. Below, we explain everything you need to know.

What is IFTTT?

IFTTT is both a website and a mobile app. The service launched in 2010 with the following slogan: "Put the Internet to work for you".

It's changed a lot over the years, however. Currently, with IFTTT, you can connect all your "services" together so that tasks are automatically triggered and completed. There are numerous ways you can connect all your services - and the resulting combinations are called "Applets".

Applets essentially automate your daily workflow, whether it's managing smart home devices or apps and websites. So, for instance, if you own the Philips Hue smart lighting system, you could use IFTTT to automatically turn on a light every time you're tagged in a Facebook photo.

In another example, you could use IFTTT to automatically email readers when they comment on your WordPress blog.

What does IFTTT stand for?

The acronym stands for 'If This, Then That'. You pronounce IFTTT like "gift" but without the "g".

IFTTTWhat is IFTTT and how does it work photo 4

How does IFTTT work?

Join

You can sign up for a free account on the IFTTT website, though IFTTT Pro is now also an option for users (and, typically, creators) who want unlimited Applet creation, multi-step Applets with queries, conditional logic and multiple actions, and more.

It's a one-step process that only requires an email, username, and password. You can even sign in via Facebook and your Google ID. Once you've joined, you'll be able to discover and set up your first Applet.

Services

IFTTT currently supports hundreds of services. You'll find integrations for everything from robot vacuums to Facebook.

Note: Services were once called "channels."

Applets

Applets are specific things that can happen when you connect services.

For instance, you could use an Applet to sync Amazon Alexa to-dos with your Google Calendar, or you could use one that lets you create events in your iPhone Calendar via Google Assistant. There are tonnes of Applets to choose from; IFTTT says there are 18 million users running more than a billion Applets a month.

Note: Applets were once called "recipes."

How do you set up an IFTTT Applet?

Here's an example Applet for Twitter and Instagram:

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  1. Log in to the IFTTT website or open the mobile app.
  2. Search for an Applet or a service you'd like to find a relevant Applet for, such as Instagram.
  3. Select the one you want to use. For instance, there's an Applet that lets you tweet your Instagrams as native photos on Twitter.
  4. Click the "Turn on" button to turn on the Applet.
  5. IFTTT will ask for permission to access both your Instagram and Twitter. Click OK and then authorize access to each service.
  6. Once done, you'll be brought back to the turned-on Applet on IFTTT.
  7. To view your Applets, select My Applets from the top of your IFTTT dashboard.

How do you create an IFTTT Applet?

  1. Login to IFTTT's website or open the mobile app.
  2. Select the 'Create' button on the home screen.
  3. Select 'Add' on the 'If This' section.
  4. Then search for a service and add your desired service.
  5. Connect the service to your IFTTT account, and choose a trigger.
  6. Next, choose the actions you want the Applet to perform by clicking the 'Add' button next to 'Then That'
  7. If you wish, you can add further actions, too.
  8. When complete, select 'Continue'.
  9. You can then name your Applet, and you're all done. Pretty easy, eh?

What are IFTTT widgets?

Widgets are shortcuts that allow you to run certain Applets with the touch of a button on your iOS or Android device. In order to use them, you need to have the IFTTT app on your phone. After you turn on a widget Applet, you can add it as an icon in your Today screen on iOS, or your home screen on iOS or Android. Step-by-step instructions on how to do that are available from IFTTT's Help Centre.

  • The Camera widget: Connects your phone’s camera to IFTTT and allows you to run Applets when you take photos. When you take a picture through the widget, the Applet will let you send it to a social site, back up to the cloud, or share it with team members.
  • The Note widget: This allows you to write quick notes and run Applets that send them to email, your calendar, Twitter, etc. It’s a simple way to add content to a notebook, to-do list, calendar, or even a Spotify playlist.
  • The Button widget: Connects to other services with Applets and acts as a remote control. You can use it to toggle your lights, log your location, or trigger a phone call.

Want to know more?

You're now a beginner IFTTT user. Go have fun exploring the countless ways to automate and simplify your life. Check out IFTTT's help hub for more details on how the service works as well as handy tutorials.

Writing by Maggie Tillman and Elyse Betters. Editing by Luke Baker.