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What Is An IFTTT Applet & How Do They Fit Into Smart Homes?

Last Updated Mar 15, 2022
IFTTTT screen showing setup for Applet on Smart phone
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As technology advances, we become more and more dependent on it to help us live our day to day lives. That is where IFTTT applets can come in handy and allow our lives to become as streamlined as possible, allowing for maximum convenience in everything that we do.

So what is an IFTTT applet and what exactly does IFTTT stand for? Firstly, IFTTT stands for “if this, then that”. It is an old programming line that essentially dictates what will happen when a certain scenario or “trigger” comes up, then dictates the according action. It allows for devices to react to certain triggers (the “If’s”) and execute a specific action (the “Then That’s”) associated with that trigger.

These applets can be as simple or complex as you desire. They fit nicely into a smart home as they allow for custom routines. It really does make home automation… well, automated.

An IFTTT applet is used to connect two or more apps or devices together. This allows you to do something in those apps or on those devices that they might not be able to do on their own. Applets are composed of those aforementioned triggers and actions so that when the trigger occurs, the applet starts and runs the specified action or actions.

An excellent example of this would be syncing your Dropbox files to Google Drive and Slack. This applet essentially creates “backups” across storage apps so that in the event of a catastrophic failure or lost files on one format, you would still be able to access your files on another.

Unfortunately, these applets are not perfect. This one in specific won’t duplicate files added to a subfolder within your Dropbox subfolder.

IFTTT logo

What are some other examples of useful applets that are available for you to use in your smart home today?

  • Kitchen Cleaning. The cool thing about iFTTT’s smart home applets is that they can do so, so much. Like, for example, iRobot’s applet that allows your iRobot devices to pair up with the dishwasher, signaling to your devices to clean the kitchen (or another room) when the dishwasher starts. Learn more about automated housecleaning here!
  • Set the thermostat. In the dead of winter or the dog days of summer, temperatures can hit drastic highs and lows, making for an uncomfortable home setting. But with the Nest Thermostat applet, you can make sure your home is the perfect temperature when you get home. You can even use Google Assistant to monitor the temperature at home throughout the day. We wrote a thing about how the Nest Thermostat saves you money, check it out here.
  • Tell Google Assistant to turn on the coffee machine. If, like most of the free world, you are dependent on your morning coffee, Google Assistant’s applet has you covered. You can tell Google Assistant to turn on the coffee machine, assuring that by the time you stroll into the kitchen, a fresh cup is waiting for you. More on smart kitchen appliances here.
  • Get updates about jobs. Though it is a bit text-heavy, Hacker News is a great place to look for jobs. This IFTTT applet will send you a weekly email with new job postings and allow you to compile a Google spreadsheet of all the jobs posted.

So now that you know just what IFTTT applets are capable of, you might be wondering how to implement this helpful tool into your life. You’ll want to read on to see just how to use IFTTT applets on your devices.

How To Use An IFTTT Applet

Thankfully, with the progression of smart technology, the ability to combine devices or apps has never been easier. Life doesn’t always allow us to use our devices or apps distraction-free or even with both available hands, so these applets can become incredibly handy in taking the stress out of those situations by streamlining your apps and devices to be as useful as possible to you.

But how do you even use an IFTTT applet? Well thankfully, that part is just as simple.

  1. Download the IFTTT app on your smartphone or desktop
  2. Find an IFTTT Applet to use
  3. Login to your Account
  4. Setup IFTTT
    1. If This (Description)
    2. Then That (Description)

For Example: If you say “good morning” Then your smart lights turn on + your morning playlist starts playing.


If you know specifically what it is you are looking for, you can simply click the search text in the upper left corner, enter your topic in the search bar and hit enter. You could be looking for applets that will help you set an automatic “on time” for your lights each day, so you would type in the applet name for that specific action.

Once selected, you would click the “turn on” slider to set it up. You’ll be taken to a page that explains what services need to be turned on to make the applet work, allowing you to be connected yet know exactly what it is you are signing up for. No guesswork or unwanted surprises here.

IFTTT discover page

Maybe you don’t quite know what it is you are looking for an you want to find something that could be useful in your daily activities. You can simply click “discover” at the top of the screen and IFTTT will suggest applets based on ones you have already activated. If you don’t have any previously used applets, there is also a highly convenient grid that will show you the available categories, making for easier browsing and opening up a world of possibilities for you.

For a more visual guide on how to activate and use these IFTTT applets, check out the video below:

Yours truly actually uses one of these applets every single day. On my drive into work and back home each day, I listen to a lot of music via Spotify and YouTube. In days past, I would search one platform for a song I liked and, if I couldn’t find it, would switch to the other platform in hopes that I would have success.

But thanks to IFTTT’s applets, I don’t have to do that anymore. If I find music I like on YouTube, the applet will automatically take those videos that I like and add them to my playlist on Spotify. It used to be that I would find something I enjoyed on YouTube, then I would have to conduct a separate search on Spotify and add that song to my playlist manually. Now, it all happens seamlessly and allows me to access those songs on either platform at any time. It takes a lot of the hassle out of enjoying my daily trips.

But with the IFTTT applet, you can create an automated message that thanks to your new follower(s) for following you. While it might not have a personalized message for each person, it still allows for interaction with them even when you might not be able to do so yourself.

Additionally, you can time a daily tweet to let all of those followers know about a product you might have available or a post that you want them to see at a specific time without having to push the send button yourself.

Of course, not all of these applets have to serve a super practical use. I myself use the “Execute Order 66” applet. “What does that one do?” you might ask. Well, if you tell Google Assistant to execute Order 66, it will play Darth Vader’s theme song. And who doesn’t need the Imperial March to get their day going from time to time?

If you can’t find the applet that best suits your needs via IFTTT’s website and you happen to know what you are doing in terms of creating one, IFTTT allows for you to create your own applets.

You will be required to create a free account with IFTTT and input your information before proceeding, but you can create your own applet on their platform and share it across IFTTT’s site for others to use (much like the aforementioned Order 66 applet).

A shared applet can help members of the online community as well as sharpen your ability to create useful applets going forward. This type of shared community allows not only for users to find specifically what they are looking for, but it also fosters creativity and allows for new solutions to evolving problems.

Can I make applets work faster?

When you enable an applet on IFTTT, each applet has information on how often that applet runs. You can see this by visiting the “Manage Applets” page and selecting the applet in question. Near the bottom, there is text that states, “This applet runs within (time)”. This is generated based on the last several times that the applet has run, tailoring to your usage.

The frequency in which the applet runs is typically dependent on the service or services that you are using. If the applet is not running as fast as you would expect it to, that may be worth checking with the service owner. The service owners generally have tools available to help figure out if their IFTTT integration service can run faster.

You can also force an applet to run by selecting the applet and selecting the “check now” button. While it’s not recommended as the primary way to use IFTTT, it can come in handy when it comes to troubleshooting. But be aware: if there is no content for the trigger to activate, then the applet may not run when it is scheduled and you will have to use the “check now” function later.

How do I manage or add new applet widgets on my mobile device?

You can visit the specific IFTTT applet pages (Button, Note and Camera) on the IFTTT website for specific categories based on your specific needs.

To manage your widgets in the IFTTT app for iOS and Android, you simply tap “applets”, then the settings icon at the top left, followed by “select widgets”.

Users on Android Oreo or above can add widgets within the app by going to the widget applet details screen and pressing “add homescreen widget” to prompt the instructions. Users of other Android versions will be required to go to the home screen, press any empty space on the home screen and find IFTTT when the widget menu appears. Hold either IFTTT Small or IFTTT Large and drag it to an empty space on the home screen to add the widget.

IFTTT applets serve useful purposes in our daily lives and, with the ability to create applets via IFTTT’s website, there are new and exciting applets being made all the time. Finding the best and most useful applet for your needs has never been this easy and streamlining your life can happen with just a few quick taps and drags. Make your life run as smoothly as possible with the myriad IFTTT applets available.

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