Create a blog backup with IFTTT and Dropbox

My colleague TJ Luoma inspried this post in the TUAW offices earlier this week. I thought I’d share a version of his idea with all of you.

Anyone who’s lost blog posts knows that particular pain. Database backups are important and shouldn’t be overlooked. But simpler plans can also be very helpful when worse comes to worst. Here’s a simple IFTTT recipe to create a plain text backup of every new post in Dropbox. It’s bare-bones for sure but still useful and could save you a lot of hassle.

The idea is to have IFTTT monitor your blog for  new posts. When it finds one, it makes a plain text copy in a Dropbox folder of your choosing, including the path to any images. Let’s set it up.

Set up

Before you begin, log into IFTTT and enable the Feed channel and Dropbox channel. Also, make a destination folder in your Dropbox account. Once that’s done, follow these steps:

  1. Create A Recipe.
  2. The “If this then that” prompt appears. Click “This.”
  3. A grid of trigger channel appears. This is the condition that must exist to prompt the next step. Click Feed.
  4. Two options appear. Click New Feed Item. This will cause the next step to fire every time you publish a new post.
  5. Paste your blog’s RSS address into the field. Click Create Trigger.
  6.  The “If this then that” prompt reappears with our feed action in place of “this.” Click “that.”
  7. The Action menu appears. Click Dropbox.
  8. Click Append to a Text File. This will add the new post to a single file. Once that file reaches 2 MB, a new one will be created.
  9. Enter the path to your destination folder and the name of the plain text document in there (a new one will be created if you leave that field blank).
  10. Click Create Action. Give your recipe a name and click Create Recipe.

Why Plain Text?

That’s it! Now, whenever you create a new blog post, it will be saved as a plain text file in your Dropbox account. Why plain text? David Sparks answers that question more eloquently than I could:

“There’s something to be said for the use of plain text files. Text is simple. Text files are easy to read on any computer running any operating system and don’t require any proprietary word processor to interpret. Even more important, text files can be read by humans. Keeping your writings in text makes them digitally immortal.

Moreover, text is internet friendly. The files are small and can jump among connected devices with poor connections like hopped up Disney faeries. It is really easy to work with your text files on any device from anywhere.”

If you ever find yourself recovering lost posts, you’ll be glad they’re in a simple format that you can work with from almost any machine. Have fun with this recipe and let me know if/how you use/modify it.

Print from iOS with Dropbox, IFTTT and Automator

My printer, a Kodak 5250, 1 does not support Apple’s AirPrint and likely never will. That’s too bad, because I’d like to print from my iPhone and iPad. Today I worked up a convoluted work-around with some additional benefits. 2 Best of all, it didn’t cost me a dime.

The idea is to create a folder in Dropbox and attach a Folder Action to it that prints new additions. I use email to populate that folder and thereby trigger print jobs. Here’s how to set it up with IFTTT, Dropbox and Apple’s Automator.


To get started, you’ll need an IFTTT account and a Dropbox account. Go to and to sign up. Both are free 3. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to get started.

Dropbox and Automator

The first step is to create a destination folder in Dropbox. I made one called “Print.” Next, create a Folder Action with Automator and attach it to that folder. The action will print any document that’s added to the folder (below). Here’s how to create it.

  1. Launch Automator, which can be found in your Applications folder.
  2. Automator asks you to select a template. Click Folder Action and then click Choose.
  3. Click Utilities in the Action Library on the left and then find Print Finder Items in the next column. Drag it into window on the right.
  4. Choose your destination folder (“Print” in my case) from the drop-down at the top of the window.
  5. Select the printer you’d like to use from the Print To drop-down.
  6. Click Save and you’re done.

Easy, right? To test it out, drop a text file into the folder. If you did it correctly, your printer should spring to life and produce the document. 4. Now, on to the next step: getting stuff into that folder easily from an iPhone or iPad.

Continue reading →

  1. So close.
  2. Printopia is a fine solution and I recommend it. Set it up and it works. But where’s the fun in that?
  3. Dropbox offers 2 GB of storage for free. Additional storage is available for a fee.
  4. Bonus feature: Place an alias to that folder on your desktop for easy drag-and-drop printing.