(Pocket-lint) – The Elgato Stream Deck is one of those pieces of tech you didn’t know you needed – but start using one and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. We originally wrote about this as part of our roundup of the best kit items a streamer could need.
Here are our favorite uses of the Stream Deck – and not just for gamers, but for video editors and beyond – to show just how awesome and versatile this device can be.
What is Elgato Stream Deck?
The Elgato Stream Deck is basically a small control panel with 15 customizable physical buttons. For people who stream their game sessions, it’s a handy tool for enabling multiple controls – without having to leave a game to fiddle with buttons, settings, or controls elsewhere.
But it’s so much more than that, as the Stream Deck can be customized with all sorts of (ever-expanding) controls to interact with all sorts of things, streamline your gameplay, or make your workflow more efficient in other ways.
1. Customizable controls
The main feature of the Stream Deck is to help streamers – whether on YouTube, Twitch, Mixer or whatever platform you use. There’s a lot to be said for the flexibility of controls this device gives you.
Sometimes that includes simple controls that help you stay professional. It can be an easy-access button that quickly disables your webcam or mutes your microphone if you need to gulp down some food or talk to a family member who’s wandered into the room. Alternatively, you can set a mute and deaf button for Discord, so you can temporarily block your friends from being overheard and allow you to talk to your audience uninterrupted.
Other useful controls include buttons for switching between scenes – whether it’s jumping to in-game footage, a “be back” pause screen, or a screen that doesn’t. is you on your camera chatting directly with viewers. All of these things can be done in your streaming software, but usually require alt+tab in Windows to click buttons or set up hotkeys for each. The Stream Deck makes these actions much more transparent.
2. Easy audience engagement
The Stream Deck is especially handy for quick audience engagement. We’ve defined buttons that allow us to send prepared messages in Twitch at any point in the stream with a single press.
If you find, for example, that you regularly receive questions on a certain topic, you can compose a reply which you can then simply send to discuss at the press of a button. In our case, we have a YouTube video with tips and tricks for the game we are playing, when people ask for advice on how to play the game, we can press this button to promote the video.
Other simple controls for Twitch include the ability to quickly mute a stream, place a highlight marker for future editing, play an ad, delete the current chat, or change the current chat mode to follower only, emote only or slow chat. These easy-to-access controls make managing your feed hassle-free a breeze.
3. Folders within folders
The standard size Stream Deck has 15 buttons. You can also get a six-button mini version or the massive 32-button Stream Deck XL. Whichever you choose, you can add even more controls with folders.
You will have noticed that each Stream Deck setup photo in this guide has an up/back arrow on the top left button. This is because Elgato allows you to create folders and place commands in them as well. You can even create folders within folders.
We like to group things logically. In our Twitch commands folder, for example, we have a subfolder full of gifs. These gifs can be clicked to view on stream via Streamlabs OBS. You can even create gif folders for specific moods and have all kinds of relevant reactions to what’s streaming with just a few taps.
4. Smart home controls
Another thing we really like about the Elgato Stream Deck is the ability to control things like smart home lighting from the interface. It’s compatible with Philips Hue and Nanoleaf, as well as Elgato’s Key Lights, meaning you can program the Stream Deck to give you easy touch controls of various lights in your home.
We set it up to control the Philips Hue lights we had in two zones, plus buttons to adjust brightness, change scenes and even launch Philips Hue Light Sync. With multi-action buttons, you can configure it to turn on different lights in different rooms, adjust brightness and more. You can do some of these things with the standard app or via a voice assistant, but often not as efficiently and satisfactorily.
5. Video editing
We also use the Stream Deck for video editing. You can add controls for all sorts of things, including splitting video tracks, trimming the start and end of clips, enabling multi-camera editing, deleting unwanted clips, recording And much more. All of these can replace keyboard shortcuts, which means you can use Stream Deck to become more efficient in your video editing efforts.
Multi Actions also lets you customize a series of different actions with a single click. You can, for example, have a button to open your video editing software, launch the folder on your machine with all the video files, open a project, open audio software, and more, just by pressing a button. It’s also not software specific, so there are plenty of possibilities.
Taking all of these features together, you can see just how powerful the Elgato Stream Deck is and why it’s worth buying one, no matter what your specialty.
Written by Adrian Willings.