Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Automate This: Turn on your Xbox One from afar

Note: This story has not been updated since 2020.

A few weeks ago, I wanted to download a really big file–the beta for the upcoming game The Division–to my Xbox One. Given how large it was–several gigabytes–I figured it would be best to do it while I was out of the house anyway.

Using Xbox Live’s web-based marketplace, it’s pretty easy to queue up a download from anywhere, but the trick is that the Xbox has to be powered on in order to start the download. I spent a while trying to find a way to turn the Xbox One on remotely, including messing around with Microsoft’s Smart Glass app over my VPN and trying a Python script installed on my Mac mini, but ultimately had no luck.

Do Button
IFTTT’s Do Button app

Fool that I am, I didn’t realize until I got home that it was far, far easier than I’d thought. As I described in an earlier post, I’ve set up a Harmony Hub so that I can use my Amazon Echo to activate my various entertainment components, including the Xbox One. At first I was thinking through stupid ideas like triggering the Echo using speech synthesis via Terminal on one of my home apps, until I remembered that the Harmony Hub is hooked up via IFTT, so all I needed to do was trigger that particular recipe via the web or iOS app.

I even took it a step further, thanks to IFTTT’s Do Button app which lets you create nice big buttons to easily initiate a recipe. (Do Button also has a Today widget for the phone and an Apple Watch app, which makes it even faster.)

So now, when I want to start something downloading on the Xbox while I’m out of the house, all I need to do is reach for my phone or my Apple Watch, and I’m never more than a few taps away.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

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