Recently — this week, in fact — I bought my first Stream Deck. Specifically, I decided to try the Stream Deck Mini, the smaller and more affordable model. Why? Because I saw how much fun many of my colleagues had with their colleagues.
The Stream Deck is a device that allows you to program a series of physical buttons (and in the case of the Plus buttons, knobs) to perform a single task or series of tasks on your computer or on smart devices in your home. In other words, it lets you do something that would normally require several keystrokes—say, start a new email, drop in a template, and send it to a specific contact list—with the push of a button. Neat, isn’t it?
Well, many employees at the edge I think Stream Deck is exceptionally neat, and they’ve used hardware to make work more efficient, to make gameplay more fun, and — well, just to tinker with technology. So since I’m a complete beginner, I thought I’d find out some ways my co-workers work for their co-workers.
By the way, if you are also a fan of Stream Deck and want to try some hacks, then you can find it Elgato plug-insIdeas and advice on reddit – Or you can just Google what you’d like to try and see what happens.
In the meantime, here’s how some of the folks here at the edge Their broadcasts were used.
I wanted the knobs
Alex Kranz, managing editor
I know. Our own review of the Stream Deck Plus said most people don’t need the Stream Deck Plus, and I know I could have gone a more fun and hacky route, but I wanted buttons, knobs, and a relatively easy setup. So far, I’m using Stream Deck Plus. In terms of the button, I mainly use it to quickly open a new page for posts on the edge. I have buttons for every story type, and have customized a few edge logo for each button. I’ve also set up a few hacks with the HomeControl app so I can control all my Philips Hue lights from my Stream Deck Plus, which is convenient, even if I often forget to do so.
But I bought the Stream Deck Plus because I wanted knobs instead of just buttons, so it’s no surprise that the knob use cases are my favorite. I have knobs for the volume on my computer and the brightness of the key light that I use for video calls. I use it several times an hour – more than the 12 buttons I programmed. The handles work well and I wish they had more use cases. I love being able to control every light in my house or control the volume for multiple audio outputs. I’m sure this kind of control is just a hack. I just need to find it.
To run Mac shortcuts
Liam James, Lead Producer, The Vergecast
when i started in the edge, We were all obsessed with Art Lebedev’s modular Optimus keyboard, which used small OLED screens under each keycap to show the most relevant inputs based on what you were doing. I wanted a product so badly, but alas, it took years for it to become a real product, and when it did, it was prohibitively expensive.
Fast forward 10 years to the first time I saw a colleague use Stream Deck to change the lighting in their remote office. I knew this was my time.
I use Stream Deck MK. 2 mainly to run Mac shortcuts (automation) that I created for repetitive tasks that I have to do as part of my job as a producer the virgacast. I can click one button, and a Slack message I receive from one of the co-hosts turns into a new task item in my task manager. Another button quickly opens the online studio, Riverside, to the correct location I need to record. And of course, I copied my colleague David Pearce and can also control everything in my smart home.
To announce the time of the podcast
David Pearce, editor-at-large
I use my stream mostly for normal stuff. I use it to control my Philips smart lights because the buttons are better than yelling “Hey Siri, turn the lights on” a hundred times a day. I have a button that immediately ends the meeting I’m in. But there are two buttons that I love and use more than anything else.
The first is Slack Status, which I configured to switch my Slack Status to “BRB”. If it’s lunch/meeting/siesta time, I just hit that button as I walk away, and I’m done! I went. The second is a button attached to my Mac shortcut that I call “Podcast Time!” (The exclamation mark is very important.) When I press this button, Do Not Disturb turns on my Mac, closes every app except the one we use to record, and opens a tab with the Google Doc for the episode. It turns a million clicks into a single button press, and it makes me happy every time I mash it.
to switch to loudspeakers
Sean Hollister, Senior Editor
I can’t spend all day wearing a headset, however comfortable, let alone an amazing wireless gaming headset slowly pushing me up against the wall. So I like to switch to a set of Audioengine speakers a few times a day, and the six-key Stream Deck Mini lets me do just that with a single click of a button. I use the Audio converter plug-in by Fred Emmott to do just that, which lets you choose two audio devices to switch between, complete with handy icons so you know what’s active just by looking at the Stream Deck switch.
It also comes with a fuzzy logical device match setting that must be enabled, so it can find my SteelSeries headset even if I suddenly decide to tell Windows it’s a brand new device because of USB quirks. I suppose I wouldn’t feel the need if Microsoft didn’t bury the audio device switcher in Windows 11, but here we are, and the Stream Deck solution works great for me.
Go for the basics
Brandon Widder, Senior Trade Editor
I’ll admit it, I’m a complete novice when it comes to Stream Deck. I chose the entry-level Mini after listening to several of my waxing mates about its endless possibilities, which, as I quickly discovered, isn’t hard to outfit if all you want to do is customize a few basic functions. Within minutes, I was able to program it to launch my favorite websites, update my Slack status, and switch between different Philips Hue lighting zones (which is really just a selection of cute white and some purple zones called a “vapor wave”). I’ve also programmed it, like the others, to start playing some of my Spotify playlists, ensuring that lo-fi hits and any Wilco-adjacent deep cuts are out of reach.
Rearrange the windows
Dan Seifert, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Reviews
I started my Stream Deck journey with a six-button Mini, but I recently upgraded to the version 15-key Stream Deck MK. 2 So I won’t have to switch between pages as often to access the controls I use most.
I use my desktop for a lot of the standard stuff—controlling media playback, smart home lights, muting audio while meeting and leaving—but my favorite hack combines Plugin that can run small AppleScript code snippets with the Moom window management application. I set up a multi-action switch on the Stream Deck to automatically open the Google Meet web app and rearrange my windows to put them front and center (with the browser window off to the side) when I need to take a call, something I do several times a day. When the call ends, I press the same button, which runs a script to automatically close Meet and return my browser and other application windows to the way I received them, allowing me to continue with my next task.
It’s little things like these that make Stream Deck an indispensable tool on my desk.
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