Twitch streamers’ go-to tool of choice is THE ELGATO STREAM Deck. The same platform is helpful even if you don’t play games for an audience because it allows you to automate simple tasks like switching scenes and going live. It was only a matter of time before the Stream Deck joined the productivity party because I am a huge fan of using gaming peripherals for work.
The Stream Deck ($150) is a 15-key panel of programmable buttons that can be programmed to perform tasks like opening websites, typing text, and navigating through OBS Studio’s features. A tiny, full-color LCD display is also built into each key. This display can be customized with application icons, symbols from a symbol library, or any other image you like.
The company also offers the Stream Deck Mini ($80), which has six buttons, and the positively enormous Stream Deck XL ($250), which has 32 keys. These gadgets all function in the same way and customize the keys using the same proprietary software. You can get icon packs to further personalize your keys as well as additional plugins to connect to third-party apps or add new functionality. Here are some suggestions to get you started on maximizing the productivity of these gadgets.
1. Run AutoHotkey Scripts on Windows
Few utilities are more effective for Windows users than AutoHotkey. You can create your own time-saving shortcuts with this incredibly straightforward scripting language. These are typically activated with a hotkey combination, but it can be challenging to locate one that doesn’t interfere with the several programs you use.
Fortunately, AutoHotkey and the Stream Deck work fantastically together. One of the software’s built-in features enables you to launch any AutoHotkey script by pressing a single key to activate a keyboard shortcut.
The software also has a Hotkey Switch feature that allows you to switch between two shortcuts, which is much better. When you press it once, it transmits one command; when you press it twice, it sends the other command. Complex toggles, such as those that run a script when you begin working and another when you finish, can be built in this way.
Shortcuts, an internal scripting tool from Apple, is both robust and part of MacOS. Even though that could be a huge benefit on its own, you can activate Shortcuts directly from a button on your Stream Deck thanks to an unofficial plugin.
It’s important to keep in mind that Sentinelelite, a GitHub user, created this integration independently from Apple. The code, however, can be found here. During my tests, it performed admirably, launching the few Shortcuts I already had without the need for a keyboard shortcut that isn’t in use or taking up space in my status bar.
IFTTT is yet another effective automation tool that can link various services together. Using it, you can add your sleep tracking to Google Calendar, send Instagram posts to Twitter without the unsightly links, or add YouTube videos you like to a Spotify playlist. Additionally, you can activate any number of applets (as the service refers to them) by simply clicking a link thanks to its integration with Webhooks.
This makes integrating it with your Stream Deck simple. You can find a Website action in the app under the System subheading. You can enter any URL here, and the website will launch when you press the button you designated for this action. You could use this to control your smart home lights, put your phone on Do Not Disturb, or any other IFTTT-capable action because in this case, it will start an IFTTT applet.
Searching for the mute button is the last thing you need to do when on a Zoom call. By providing you with specific buttons to mute your microphone or video, start or stop a recording, and even exit the meeting, this unofficial plugin can assist in resolving that issue.
You can also ask everyone to unmute themselves or mute the entire Zoom call at once if you’re the one in charge of the meeting. These keyboard shortcuts function even when the Zoom window itself is not in focus, allowing you to continue working on spreadsheets or getting sidetracked on Twitter without losing the ability to unmute yourself instantly when your boss calls.
This Discord plugin, one of the add-ons created specifically by Elgato, enables you to quickly control a few essential features of the chat program. You can turn off your headphones or mute your microphone. Additionally, there are options for swiftly switching to a pre-set voice or text channel. When it comes to the former, pressing the button causes your headphones and microphone to be automatically connected to the voice chat.
The Push to Talk and Push to Mute buttons, however, may be the most practical choices in this plugin. Holding down one of the Stream Deck buttons while using these enables you to speak or remain silent for a brief period of time. The kind of thing that’s made me appreciate having the extra hardware on my desk is having a physical button on hand to reach for—no matter what window is open—so I can speak up in a chat where I’m muted when I need to.
6. Manage Your Music
Most modern keyboards have some type of multimedia button that lets you play, pause, or skip tracks in your music apps, but these buttons are typically quite simple. Integrations with the Stream Deck can sometimes be much more extensive. For instance, the unofficial Spotify plugin includes the essentials as well as additional features like the ability to change playback devices, remove songs from playlists, add likes to songs, enter shuffle mode, and more.
Interestingly, Elgato only provides Spotify and Apple Music plugins for Macs. Both of these have simpler features, but at least one of them lets you switch between shuffle and love mode on songs on Apple Music.
A solid time tracker is a great tool if you operate independently, have clear work-life boundaries, or are simply interested about how much time you really spend staring at spreadsheets. Unofficial Stream Deck plugin for Toggl, a free application for achieving this, makes it simple to start and stop your tracker.
You’ll need to enter your API key to get it set up; you can find it on Toggl’s preferences page. You can hit the button to begin time tracking once it has been set up. Even more buttons can be made to track various tasks and send them to various Toggl workspaces. Pressing the button once more will only start a new timed entry as of the time of writing, so you’ll still need to use the Toggle mobile or web app to stop the timer. Nevertheless, it’s still a useful way to rapidly start the clock without getting sidetracked from what you’re doing.