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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Automate This: Turn on your Xbox One from afar

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.

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[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]