The Elgato Flow Deck is an incredibly popular tool for Twitch streamers. It lets you automate basic tasks like switching scenes and going live, but that same platform is useful even if you’re not playing games for an audience. I’m a huge fan of using gaming peripherals for work, so it was only a matter of time before the Stream Deck joined the productivity party.
The Stream Deck ($150) is a 15-key panel of programmable buttons that can be loaded with actions like launching websites, typing blocks of text, and controlling features of apps like OBS Studio. Each key is also a small color LCD screen that can be customized with app icons, a symbol library, or any other image you like.
The company also sells a six-button version called the Stream Deck Mini ($80) and the massive Stream Deck XL ($250) with 32 keys. All of these devices work the same way and use the same proprietary software to customize the keys. You can also download additional plugins to add new features or connect third-party apps, and even get icon packs to further customize your keys. Here are some ideas to help you turn these devices into productivity powerhouses.
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1. Run AutoHotkey Scripts on Windows
For Windows users, there are few tools more powerful than AutoHotkey. This super simple scripting language lets you write your own shortcuts to save time. These are usually activated with a hotkey combination, but finding one that doesn’t conflict with the many programs you use can be tricky.
Luckily, the Stream Deck pairs perfectly with AutoHotkey. One of the software’s built-in features lets you activate a hotkey with a single button, which you can use to trigger any AutoHotkey script.
Even better, the software includes a Hotkey Switch feature that will alternate between two hotkeys. Press it once, it sends one command, press it again and it sends the other, alternating between them. This can be a useful way to create complex toggles, like running one script when you start working and another when you’re done.
2. Enable Mac Shortcuts
Apple’s scripting tool, Shortcuts, is not only powerful, but built right into macOS. This can be a huge advantage on its own, but an unofficial plugin lets you activate hotkeys directly from a button on your Stream Deck.
This integration is made by GitHub user Sentinelelite and not associated with Apple, so keep in mind. However, you can find the code here. In my testing, it worked pretty well, launching the few existing shortcuts I had without needing a hotkey that isn’t already in use or taking up space in my status bar.
3. Log into IFTTT
IFTTT is another powerful automation tool that can act as a glue between multiple departments. You can use it to send your Instagram posts to Twitter without the ugly links, add your sleep tracking to Google Calendar, or put videos you like on YouTube into a Spotify playlist. And thanks to its Webhooks integration, you can activate any number of applets (as the service calls them) just by visiting a link.
This makes it easy to integrate with your Stream Deck. Under the System subheading of the application, you will find an action called Website. Here you can enter any URL, then when you press the button to which you assign this action, this site will launch. In this case, it will trigger an IFTTT applet. For example, you’ll be able to use it to control your smart home lights, switch your phone to Do Not Disturb, or anything IFTTT can do.
4. Control your Zoom calls
The last thing you want on a Zoom call is to search for the mute button. This unofficial plugin can help solve this problem by giving you dedicated buttons to mute your microphone or video, start or stop a recording, and even leave the meeting.
If you’re hosting the meeting, there are also options to mute everyone in the Zoom call at once, or ask everyone to unmute. These shortcuts work even if the Zoom window itself isn’t in focus, so you can keep your spreadsheets open or continue to be distracted by Twitter without losing the ability to quickly wake up when the boss calls.
5. Chat more easily in Discord
One of the add-ons built by Elgato specifically, this Discord plugin gives you the ability to quickly control a few basic features of the chat app. You can mute your microphone or mute your headphones. There are also options to quickly switch to a preset voice or text channel. In the first case, pressing the button will automatically connect your headphones and microphone to voice chat.
However, perhaps the most convenient options in this plugin are the Push to Talk and Push to Mute buttons. These allow you to temporarily speak or mute yourself while holding down one of the Stream Deck buttons. Having a physical button handy no matter what window is open so I can talk in a chat where I’m muted when I need to is the kind of thing that made me appreciate having the extra hardware on my desk .
6. Manage your music
Most keyboards these days have some sort of media buttons for playing, pausing, or skipping tracks in your music apps, but they’re usually pretty basic. Some of Stream Deck’s integrations can be much more extensive. For example, the unofficial Spotify plugin covers the basics, but also lets you remove songs from your playlists, switch playback devices, add a like to a song, shuffle , etc
Elgato itself also offers plugins for Spotify and Apple Music, but oddly only on Mac. These both have more basic functionality, but they at least let you toggle shuffle mode and, on Apple Music, press Love on the songs you like.
7. Track your working hours
If you’re self-employed, have strict work-life boundaries, or are just curious about how much time you actually spend looking at spreadsheets, a good time tracker is a useful tool. . A free tool for doing this, Toggl, has an unofficial Stream Deck plugin that makes it easy to start and stop your tracker.
To set it up, you’ll need to enter your API key, which you can get from Toggl’s preferences page. Once set up, you can tap the button to start tracking your time. You can even create multiple buttons to track different tasks and send them to different Toggl workspaces. At the time of writing, you’ll still need to use the Mobile App or Web Toggle to stop the timer (pressing the button again will only start a new timed entry), but it’s still a handy way to quickly start the timer. clock without getting distracted from what you’re doing.
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