What you get and what you don’t get

Zapier is an automation tool in the same vein as IFTTT, but arguably more powerful in many ways. While IFTTT excels in smart home applications, Zapier sees a lot of use related to business and productivity-related applications. Perhaps one of Zapier’s most powerful features is the ability to set up multi-step automations.

Of course, these powerful features are behind a paywall. This guide will take a look at Zapier’s free plan and help you decide if it’s worth trying, or if spending a little money each month for a premium plan will give you the extra tools and features you need.

The Zapier free plan

Before explaining what the free Zapier plan is all about, you need to understand a few terms. Zapier refers to its automations as “Zaps”, so any reference to a Zap is a reference to an automated, linked task.

The free Zapier plan allows users to set up up to 5 Zaps. It also limits users to 100 tasks per month; in other words, 100 activations of your Zaps before the service stops working until the next month. The free Zapier plan also limits users to Zaps in one step and only checks for updates every 15 minutes.

With all this in mind, what is the free Zapier plan good for? The answer is simple: testing. It’s a great way to try out Zapier and see if the basic features and interface are things you’d like to use. However, for any real form of automation, it’s just too limited.

The next level up is infinitely more useful. For $20 per month (if billed annually), you get 750 tasks per month, up to 20 Zaps at a time, but you’re still limited with an update time of 15 minutes. However, you get access to Multi-Step Zaps, 3 premium apps, filters, formatters and connections via webhooks.

It’s a much more useful program, but it’s a bit on the pricier side of things. Try out the free plan and decide if Zapier can achieve the goals you need before choosing to commit. However, Zapier does offer users a 14-day free trial of their services.

Zapier App Compatibility

Zapier is compatible with more than 2,000 different applications, but some of the most powerful (and most popular) are Google Sheets, Gmail, Slack, Twitter, and Trello. As we said before, Zapier focuses on productivity instead of home automation.

In fact, Zapier has almost no smart home compatibility. It is compatible with 36 different Internet of Things apps, but only a few of them are commonly used (such as Philips Hue and Google Assistant).

Some apps are considered “Premium” apps on Zapier’s platform, including Salesforce, Shopify, PayPal, and GoToWebinar. These premium applications are only accessible to someone using one of the paid Zapier plans.

Zapier configuration

One of Zapier’s strengths is that it doesn’t take much work to get started. You can sign up through Google to get started. From there on, creating a Zap is as easy as selecting from a list of options.

First, choose the trigger for your Zap to take effect. This can be almost anything. In the example we chose a specific search term in Twitter as a trigger. When Zapier performs a search and finds results, the action is triggered.

The second step is the effect. Choose what to do when Zapier is activated. Building on the example above, the effect is to send an email containing the relevant information about the search term to a specified email address.

If you’re using a plan that allows you to set up multi-step Zaps, all you need to do is click the plus sign below the second step to continue creating instructions.

Is Zapier’s free plan worth using?

The free plan is so limited in features and functionality that it has little to no real application. If you just need to automate a few tasks that are rarely triggered every month, this could suit your needs. On the other hand, if you plan on creating an automation workhorse, you will quickly run out of tasks unless you pay for a premium plan.

The free Zapier plan isn’t even that useful for testing purposes, as anyone interested in the service can try out a premium plan 14 days after signing up. However, Zapier itself is a tremendously powerful tool, especially with regard to: Link Slack and other business communication tools to other services.

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