Perhaps the best device I’ve purchased in the last couple of years is my 32-Key Elgato Stream Deck. It’s a streamlined way for me to manage live streams, devices, and automation. I absolutely love it. When I first got it, I shared a photo on Twitter, fully configured. A lot has changed since then…including upgrading from the 15- to the 32-key. Here’s a breakdown of how I’ve set it up – everything from what it’s connected to, to where I got the icons.
What is Stream Deck?
First up, what is the Stream Deck? It’s a hardware device with programmable buttons that you connect to your computer. It connects to services like OBS, eCamm Live, YouTube, Twitch, Phillips Hue, Apple Shortcuts, and much more!
A lot of streamers (myself included) use it to manage streams and their environments during a live stream – it’s like a mini control room that only needs one person to manage!
Tip: It also makes editing YouTube videos a lot easier. Adding lower thirds, URLs, and transitions with the push of a button sure beats doing it in post-production.
Why Not Just Use Keyboard Shortcuts?
A common question I get is, “Why can’t you just use keyboard shortcuts?” I do. I love keyboard shortcuts. I have Karabiner Elements modify my Caps Lock key for even more keyboard shortcuts.
But you can’t put custom graphics on keyboard shortcuts, and the truth is that the Stream Deck makes it way easier to remember certain actions. Plus, Stream Deck makes certain integrations, like with Phillips Hue, easier. The same thing goes with eCamm Live.
How I’m Using Stream Deck
I originally got the 15-key Stream Deck to switch between OBS scenes for my online courses. I wanted to easily move between talking head shots and slides without a ton of editing.
But I quickly discovered how powerful it can be, especially since it supports Keyboard Maestro, a Mac app for you to create your own advanced keyboard shortcuts and automated actions.
While I don’t think I need the Stream Deck XL presently, I am grateful there is a folder and profile support!
Edit: I totally caved and got the Stream Deck XL because I use it for a lot of stuff now. I’ve even spilled over into 2 pages!
Page 1 Configuration
Here’s what page 1 of my Stream Deck looks like:
Since the Stream Deck is for more than just streaming, I’ve set up page one mostly to run automations and lighting in my office. Here are a bunch of common tasks, mostly driven by the Shortcuts plugin for Stream Deck (now that Shortcuts has come to macOS). Here’s the breakdown by Row and Column (marked R# for Row number, and C# for Column number):
R1C1: A Keyboard Maestro shortcut. This one sets up my podcast workspace. It launches Garageband, Riverside.fm in Chrome, and Notion in Safari then positions the windows. So good, though I may change this to be driven by Moom in the future. Then this will turn into a keyboard shortcut!
R1C2: New blog post shortcut. It brings up a dialog box for me to put in a title and quick thoughts, then creates a new note in my “Writing” space in Craft.
R1C3: Opens the How I Built It Airtable base.
R1C4: Opens the Writing space in Craft
R1C5: Run my “Turn on the office” shortcut. It turns on and sets all of the smart lights.
R1C6: Toggle Key Lights in and off (in sync).
R1C7: Lower brightness on all Key Lights
R1C8: Increase brightness on all Key Lights
R2C1: Open my Dashboard note in Craft. Pretty much all of my important and timely information is here. It’s a fast way for me to save links, make notes, and organize Craft.
R2C2: Open the “Today” note in Craft. I find myself making date-based notes more often lately. Journaling, financing, and logging my Analog cards, to name a few.
R2C3: Open LinkedIn Learning. I’m basically making a course every 6 weeks now, so I visit the site often.
R2C4: Open Tot, a simple app for quickly capturing text. I pretty much use this as a scratch pad, or a way to transfer info between devices since it syncs. I don’t have to think about where it goes until later.
R2C5: Runs my “Turn off the office” shortcut
R2C6: Set my Hue color lights to “Podcast Liftoff purple.” Used for my Podcast Liftoff videos
R2C7: Make Key Light color temperature cooler. This is a stepped button.
R2C8: Make Key Light color temperature warmer. Also stepped.
R3C1: Start a Timery Timer. This will allow me to choose a project and add notes, then start a timer, in Timery (a much nicer app that works on top of Toggl).
R3C2: Stop current timer in Timery
R3C4: Open Airtable app.
R3C5: Open FindMy. I was mostly just playing around with this when Shortcuts first rolled out for Stream Deck, but I tend to open the app a lot, to find stuff or people.
R3C6: Cycle Hue Lights color. This cycles through 4 different colors on my Hue Lights.
R3C7: Max Brightness for Hue Lights
R3C8: Half Brightness for Hue Lights
R4C1: Mute Zoom. Much faster than pressing the in-app button, or the keyboard shortcut IMO
R4C2: End current Zoom meeting. This will end, and confirm, all with one press.
R4C3: Run “I have an idea” shortcut. This will open a dialog box then append the text to my “Ideas” note in Craft
R4C4: Open PCalc. I use this a lot, but I actually have a more convenient keyboard shortcut above the number pad, so I’ll likely change this.
R4C6: Energize Scene. This sets all of my Hue Lights to white
R4C7: Aurora scene. This sets my Hue Lights to a teal/blue-green color.
R4C8: Go to Page 2.
Page 2 Configuration
And here’s page two:
This page is a lot more up in the air as I try to figure out the best, easiest scenes to manage, and how my Stream Deck Pedal fits into it all.
For now, let’s take it row-by-row. Most of columns 6 and 7 are blank and TBD. They’ll be skipped
I use eCamm Live for all of my streaming needs now. It’s robust, works super well, and I’ve got several custom scenes and overlays. Here’s the breakdown by Column (marked R1 for Row 1, and C# for Column number):
R1C1: A scene that is just my camera. Denoted by a person icon and labeled “Me.”
R1C2: A scene that is just my computer’s screen. Denoted by a laptop icon and labeled “Screen.”
R1C3: The intro image for my live stream
R1C4: IFTTT automation to tweet that I’m live
R1C5: Bring in a guest to the left of me
R1C7: Unused scene for testing
R1C8: Go Live in eCamm Live (this changes based on what I have it set to in the app)
R2C1: Face Cam view. I use the Elgato Face Cam as an overhead camera, usually when I’m sketching or demoing some other real-world thing. The camera sits on a tripod and can be moved easily.
R2C2: Overlay a big version of my main camera to whatever scene is active. Usually, this gives me a nice border around some graphics, but I’ll likely replace this in the near future.
R2C3: Overlay a small version of my main camera in the bottom left (or right) corner. This is especially helpful when I want to show my face during a demo or talk. It’s small enough to not obstruct whatever’s on the screen.
R2C4: Last Comment. This allows me to easily overlay the last comment made during a live stream.
R2C5: Hide Comment. The comment will disappear after 20 seconds. This button lets me rush it if I want.
R2C8: Run the “I’m Recording” shortcut. This will turn my recording light upstairs red, start a timer, and put my computer in my Recording focus mode so no notifications get through.
R3C1: iPhone Camera. I will usually use this as a secondary view of myself, or switch to it if my a6400 gets hot, which doesn’t happen too often.
R3C2: iPad Camera. For drawing and such!
R3C3: Subscribe button overlay scene
R3C4: “Live Demo” mode tells eCamm Live not to hide any of its overlays, so when I want to show someone how to use eCamm Live, I press this button.
R3C5: “Turn on Christmas.” This would add a tree and lights to the stream. I really need to update this page.
R3C8: Run the “I’m done recording” shortcut. Stops the timer, sets my recording light to white and turns off my focus mode.
R4C1:Go back to Page 1
R4C2: “Join Creator Crew” overlay
R4C3: Promotion that usually changes.
R4C4: Promotion that usually changes
R4C5: Toggle my Rocket Mic lamp
R4C8: Number of viewers for the current live stream
So there you have it! That’s everything on the current (April 2022) iteration of my Stream Deck. The configuration goes through some minor changes over time, but now that Shortcuts is on the Mac, I will probably continue to tweak! Speaking of…
Additional Apps and Tools
Aside from the Stream Deck and accompanying software (which supports a lot of stuff out of the box), there are a few plugins and graphics I’m using.
I’m using 4 plugins to help me automate. All of them can be found in the Stream Deck Shop plugins area:
- Shortcuts by SENTINELITE: There are several ways to use Shortcuts with Stream Deck, but this plugin is by far the most straightforward and reliable.
- Keyboard Maestro: The companion plugin to the App, this allows you to map macros directly to Stream Deck buttons.
- Zoom Plugin: I was originally using Keyboard Maestro to control Zoom, but this plugin is, again, a lot more straightforward.
- eCamm Live: This one gets installed when you install eCamm Live. It even comes with its own pre-configured profile.
- IFTTT: This one was a cool unexpected surprise. I’m only using it to tweet, currently. But that could very well change in the near future.
Icon Set: MacStories Pixel Shortcuts Icons
For the icons, I’m using the Shortcuts Icons set by MacStories Pixel. These are designed really well, there are a ton, and it gives the Stream Deck a consistent look across each button.
They were originally designed for use with iOS Shortcuts, which I also use them for. But since they are standard images I can use them for the Stream Deck as well.
Stream Deck Pedal
A few weeks ago I got the Stream Deck Pedal. It has 3 buttons:
Using this for my videos will be a lot easier for bringing up overlays or change the scenes because I won’t have to move at all, as far as the camera can see.
With this, I’ll likely update my deck even further to remove scenes and move the 3 crucial live stream actions (whatever they happen to be) to the pedeal.
I generally reserve a spot in posts like this for ways I want to improve my experience. I have a few thoughts. Now that I’ve picked up a Stream Deck XL, I want to make the most of it:
- Add more Keyboard Maestro Shortcuts, mostly for opening apps, setting other scenes, or websites. I have a full sized keyboard, so my most common apps are set to the extra function keys. But more shortcuts are always good 🙂
- Add more productivity shortcuts. I run a lot of stuff from my phone that I can now do on my Mac.
- Add more podcast workflow stuff. Over on Six Colors, there are some great automations for timestamping edits with the Stream Deck. I definitely want to steal those, and see if I can automate my Rodecaster Pro at all.
Tell Me What You Want to See!
Do you have a Stream Deck? Want to see what’s possible? Let me know in the comments!
Updated April 03, 2022.