Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Automatically updating avatars

An IFTTT recipe to automatically change my Twitter avatar if my Facebook avatar changes

Many web sites let you represent yourself using a profile picture, or avatar, as well as your username or real name. Last year I decided to change all of my avatars to one default picture of me (this photo of me wearing a fez). This got very repetitive after a while as there doesn’t seem to be a way to mass-update avatars on lots of different web sites.

There are a couple of minor workarounds. You can use IFTTT to synchronise your Facebook and Twitter profile pictures with this recipe. It’s one-way, though – you have to update your Facebook avatar to then have your Twitter avatar changed.

And there’s Gravatar, which aims to be a ‘Globally Recognised Avatar’ and is supported by many sites, including this one. But not all sites use it, and it’s a shame that some don’t have a ‘just use my Gravatar’ option rather than inviting you to upload an image.

This means that I would still have to manually change my Flickr, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Google,, Instagram, Foursquare, Pinterest and avatars, plus those on any forums I’ve registered on and any other sites that I’ve forgotten. In fact, despite me merging my Microsoft and Skype accounts, the two still seem to have separate avatars.

It would be nice if someone could create a site that would be able to automatically update your avatar on multiple sites, or at least offer a landing page with quick links to the relevant settings pages to update them. And, if being able to change your avatar is something that these sites include in their APIs, it would be nice if IFTTT supported them like it does with Facebook and Twitter. But for now, if you want to have an image change, there’s a lot of work involved.

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