Google and IFTTT: our tips and tricks

Since its launch in November, we’ve been amazed at how many of you have connected Google Assistant to IFTTT. Ok, Google — message received! There’s clearly a huge demand for Applets that work with Google’s suite of practical and powerful services.

To make sure you’re getting the most out of the six (for now…!) Google services on IFTTT, we wanted to share some best practices. If you’re new to IFTTT and just came on board when Google Assistant launched, you’ll want to explore all the time-saving, doc-syncing Google Drive and Gmail Applets. If you’re a devotee to Google’s cloud services already, it might be time to add some hardware to the mix and play with Google Wifi or Assistant. And the start of a new year is the perfect time to get your Calendar and Contacts in order.

Google Assistant

This service works with Google Home or Pixel devices. It's incredibly flexible — you can create custom voice commands to control your home, send updates, and more. Here are some tips to help you make the most of it:

  • When making or configuring an Applet that might be different each time you say the command, like a number for the temperature or time, you can use the “#” symbol to stand in for that variable. For example, this Applet’s configuration looks like “Ok Google, set thermostat to #.” The Applet will run when you say “Ok Google, set thermostat to 65” or “Ok Google, set thermostat to 73”...and so on!

  • The same principle works for variable text, but the symbol used there is the “$.” For example, in this Applet the input is “Ok Google, tell my friends $.” Whatever you say after “tell my friends” will be posted on Facebook.

Google Wifi

One of the newest additions to the Google family, this router delivers super fast Wi-Fi. Perfect for families with dozens of devices, you can turn on Applets to help you monitor and manage all of your connections:

  • Tracking device connections and disconnections is a simple way to track your family's internet usage (and set limits, if you're so inclined) — keep an eye on when specific people or smart home gadgets are coming online.

Google Drive

Sync up with this cloud-storage system that can manage documents, spreadsheets, and all those unruly email attachments. Here’s one thing to keep in mind as you turn on Applets:

  • Make sure you know where everything you save to your drive will end up! The default folder path is usually “IFTTT” or another service name (e.g. this Applet saves your Tweets to a folder called “Twitter”). If that doesn’t work for you, you’ll often have the option to customize this while you’re configuring the Applet.

Google Calendar

Stay on track with this calendar app — you can run Applets when events start or new events are added. And of course, because the service works with hundreds of others on IFTTT, you can automatically create events based on thousands of different triggers, from the weather to social media activity. Here are a few things to remember:

  • While it can be helpful to run Applets based on any event in your calendar, it’s often more practical to focus on specific types of events. There is a trigger that looks at an event’s title, description, and location to see if it’s relevant to an Applet. You can use it to send birthday messagesschedule emails, and more. 

  • This service works incredibly well as a widget. With a single tap, you can enter the specifics of your event using natural language: “Dinner on January 5th with Joe at the diner.” Press send and your note will be transformed into a calendar event, with all the details in the right places. Learn more about widgets here.


If you use this email service, one of the world’s most popular, there’s a whole world of Applets available to you. Here are our top tips for getting the most out of Gmail:

  • While many people use this service to send themselves emails from their Gmail, keep in mind that you can actually send to up to five different addresses at once. Try an Applet like this to keep roommates up to date on an apartment search, or this one to easily share vacation pics with the family.

  • If you set up labels in Gmail you’ll be able to run Applets based on receiving emails that fit a certain type — notes, reservations, to-do lists...etc. There’s no limit to the amount of labels you can have in Gmail, so this is a great way to create Applets that run with laser-like precision.

Google Contacts

The average human can only remember 7 digits at once — so backing up all those phone numbers somewhere is essential. The Google Contacts service makes it easy to integrate your address book with all your other apps and devices. Here’s a trick to remember:

  • There are many Applets that will back up your contacts to the storage system of your choice, but they won’t work retroactively on contacts already in your database. However, you can also run Applets based on Google’s “group” feature. By creating a “vintage” group of Contacts you can make sure all of your important names and numbers are synced to the right place.

We could go on, but it’s time for you to stop reading and start supercharging your Google services. You can see more hand-picked Applets for Google in our collection. We’ll have to save Android Applets for another post!