If This Then That:

Single Greatest ‘Weapon of Mass Production’

21 best IFTTT recipes for journalists

Although ‘If This Then That’ has been around for nearly five years, I routinely run into friends and industry colleagues at journalism events that don’t yet know about the powerful web-based service.

In short, IFTTT simplifies your life by automating digital tasks to take your productivity to the next level.

Rather than go into technical jargon to explain its application, I typically describe IFTTT as an awesome piece of *FREE* technology that acts like virtual rubber band and glue to connect two web services that you love already — then allowing them to serve you in some new automated way.

By the way, did I mention it’s free?

Earlier this year, IFTTT renamed their original application to IF and released a new suite of apps called Do. The Do apps allow users to create customizable shortcut applications and actions.

The company says that IFTTT users are now “cooking” about 20 million “recipes” each day. In the interest of saving you time from having to sift through the thousands of available Recipes, below is an updated list of recommendations to assist journalists with critical aspects of discovery, productivity and social publishing.


Add tweets with a specific hashtag to a Google Docs spreadsheet

Collect all tweets with a specific hashtag to ensure nothing gets past you. Great for closely monitoring your beat, breaking news or topics of interest.

Get a daily email showing tweets posted around a particular location

Not quite the same as culling through geotagged social posts in real-time during breaking news (e.g. Geofeedia, SnapTrends, TweetDeck) — I find this approach to be thorough and impactful for beat reporters, investigative journalists and others interested in drilling down on Twitter posts at specific locations over a duration of time. Imagine as a court reporter, combing through recent tweets from the local courthouse — conveniently emailed to you each morning — to support your search for interesting story angles and interview subjects.

Receive an alert on your iOS device when a certain @user tweets

Useful resource for closely monitoring Twitter to receive a notification on your iPhone or iPad whenever a particular user tweets. Especially helpful for those working on stories away from the newsroom — where mobile life is essential life. Make sure you never miss important tweets from local emergency officials during breaking news again. Another example: as more national politicians use Twitter to issue important campaign announcements, no more tying up a newsroom staffer to stare at timelines, feverishly hitting refresh awaiting the anticipated news.

(This recipe also available for Android users HERE)

Build a Twitter list based on a specific #hashtag

Great for utilizing Twitter lists to closely monitor beats, topics, events, breaking news and sources. Just determine the interested hashtag and give the list a name.

Get an email every time the president signs a new law

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Email me promptly upon the president’s signature.” — Benjamin Franklin

NASA breaking news to your wrist (Android)

Every time NASA shares out breaking news, it will show up on your Android Wear device with a space photo. Way cool.


Log how much time you spend at home/work/etc.

Face it — time management is a universal struggle. With this Recipe, every time you arrive/depart a specifically designated location (assuming you’re carrying your location-enabled smartphone), a new row to a spreadsheet in Google Drive is automatically created. Users can set the areas you want to log [home, office, gym, etc.] — thus taking a big step toward the battle of proper time management.

Save my iOS photos to Dropbox

No more storing hundreds (or — gasp — thousands) of old photos on your mobile device for convenience sake. Take back important device capacity with this Recipe — as your photos automatically back up toyour Dropbox account. Just make sure you don’t forget to switch on background sync.

iOS Battery Saver

Rule no. 1 of mobile reporting is A-B-C — Always Be Charging. However, putting this IFTTT Recipe to work for you, allows users to Always Be Conserving. Say you’re at work, with your smartphone having Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on. This Recipe sends you a notification to turn it off whenever you leave work — thus saving you on precious battery reserve. Users can customize to specific locations to inform you whether to turn both on/off.

(This recipe also available for Android version HERE)

Save all your Instagram photos to a Dropbox account

This is one of those ‘piece-of-mind’ Recipes that you just sleep better knowing your priceless IG pics are being neatly stored in Dropbox.

Save favorited tweets to your preferred ‘read-it-later’ app

It’s become one of life’s great regrets: you favorite interesting articles on Twitter with full intention of devouring them at a later time. Only for your Twitter timeline and distractions to impede those desires. With this Recipe, save those cluttered favorited tweets to your preferred read-it-later app.

Pocket Recipe | Evernote Recipe | Instapaper Recipe | Google Drive Recipe

Whenever I add a new contact, mark it in my Calendar

Recalling the context of how and when you first met contacts can sometimes seem like a tall order. Remember exactly when you met new contacts with this Recipe.

Voice-dictate task requests to Apple Watch

It’s all about hands-free in 2015. Leveraging IFTTT’s Do Note app, users can create a short note with the watch and save or share it automatically. Evernote released a voice-dictation service this year so you can speak into the Watch app to create a note without having to type.

Post to your team’s Slack chat room

A one tap, no-nonsense way to post to your team’s slack channel. Simply fill in a note and it will be posted in a Slack channel of your choosing. Great for sending messages on the go or sending a quick note without getting distracted by other things going on in Slack.

Save starred Gmails to Evernote

Busy Gmail inboxes can grow unwieldy fast. Create a special folder in Evernote to store starred Gmails as long as you like. Great for extending the organized you.

Every day at 6 a.m., add today’s weather report to my calendar

To pack rain gear, or not to pack rain gear? Take the guess work out of this daily dilemma… depending on where you live.

Sorry, I don’t do voicemail (missed calls get an SMS)

Whether you’re tied up with an interview, crashing deadline or just in a meeting and can’t answer the phone, most of us prefer to receive a text message rather than a mysterious voicemail. With this genius Recipe, when you miss a call, a text is automatically sent to the person to let them know that you’ll call them back. Oh, and that you definitely won’t get their voicemail. :-)


Post Instagram photos on Twitter as embedded photos

Quit making us work to see your photos. People in general are lazy. Chances are most aren’t going to click the link. Your stunning Instagram pics are meant to be shared in their full glory! Stop selling them short — via static links on Twitter. Don’t just take it from me, listen to the former Twitter manager for News & Journalism, Mark Luckie: adding photos to your Twitter posts double your engagement. This simple Recipe turns boring links into beautifully displayed images on Twitter. Huge difference-maker here, folks. Think about your audience.

Automatically update your Twitter profile when your Facebook profile changes

A big part of success on social media is finding your voice and sharing consistently across the primary social networks. What better/easier way to maintain some of that visual consistency by connecting your FB with your Twitter profile pics to update when you feel the next change coming on?

Display my Tweets on LinkedIn page

I was presenting at a conference with David Cohn (@DigiDave) recently and he mentioned this Recipe as one of his favorite social engagement hacks. By connecting Twitter and LinkedIn via IFTTT, Dave shared, “people began complimenting me at how active and engaged I had become with thoughtful posts on LinkedIn… when truth is I’m not really doing anything extra.”

Auto-post YouTube video to Tumblr

Another solid multi-tasking resource for those interested in publishing to their Tumblr blogs at the same time they upload video to YouTube.

Missed any? Please leave your favorite IFTTT Recipes on here.