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Elgato Stream Deck Productivity Hacks Tutorial

Do you have trouble staying productive while you are working? Do you struggle to remember helpful keyboard shortcuts? Are you constantly performing repetitive tasks and typing the same things over and over? With the Elgato Stream Deck, your life can become a whole lot easier. In this article, I’ll teach you how to use the Elgato Stream Deck to hack your productivity.

The Stream Deck is a USB device with 15 keys that each have a small LCD screen. Using Elgato’s software, the keys can be mapped to custom controls, commands, and much more. The buttons can also be customized to display any image or icon so you can easily identify which action each button performs.

If you are on a budget, there is a Stream Deck Mini which has only 6 keys and can easily fit on any desk or surface. If you feel like going the extra mile, there is a giant 32 key version called the Stream Deck XL which features a magnetic stand and a removable USB-C cable.

Elgato originally created the Stream Deck to make video game streaming easier, but after many updates and added functionality, it is widely being used as a productivity tool for everyday work. Whether you are a graphic designer, video editor, software engineer, or a general freelancer, you will undoubtedly benefit from having a Stream Deck.

In fact, the Elgato Stream Deck made our list as one of the Best Streaming Accessories for 2020.

When you first open the Stream Deck software, you will notice there are a ton of custom actions. You can easily collapse or turn off the sections that you don’t want to use, so don’t get overwhelmed. I have lots of experience playing around with the Stream Deck and I have discovered a few tricks that will make you more efficient while you are working or just playing around on the computer.

Here are the best productivity hacks that the Stream Deck has to offer:

  1. Program and Folder Shortcuts
  2. Hotkeys
  3. Text Shortcuts
  4. AutoHotkey Integration
  5. Multi Actions

1. Program and Folder Shortcuts

When working on the computer, you probably use the same programs each day and work with files in the same folders. Even though we use many programs and folders daily, it can be hard to remember exact program names and folder locations at times.

Computers are complex and they tend to get more cluttered over time. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all of your common programs and folders at your fingertips? Luckily, with one simple Stream Deck action, you can open any program or folder at a moment’s notice.

Open Action

Follow these simple steps to add the Open action to your Stream Deck:

  1. Open the Stream Deck software.
  2. In the actions sidebar on the right, find the Open action under the System category.
  3. Click and drag the action to the left into the button slot of your choosing.
  4. After adding it to your workspace, you will see additional options appear below the grid.

Note: Adding a Title simply adds text over the icon image. If you prefer to use your own custom icon images like me, leave the Title field blank.

Stream Deck Open Folder Action

Program Shortcuts

Before performing this step, make sure you have added a new Open action to your Stream Deck workspace.

If you are looking to launch a program, open the selector to the right of the App / File field, navigate to the location of the program’s EXE file, and double-click the EXE.

Can’t find your program’s EXE file?

  1. Search for your program in the Windows menu.
  2. Right-click the program in the search results and click Open file location.
  3. In the folder that opens, right-click the program shortcut and choose Properties.
  4. On the Shortcut tab, copy the path in the Target field and paste it in the App / File input within the Stream Deck software.

After selecting the correct EXE file, pressing the corresponding button on the Stream Deck should launch your program. If your program happens to be open already, pressing the button will usually bring your program into focus, but in some cases, a duplicate instance will be opened.

Once you have all of your favorite programs added, you can start your day off by pressing a few buttons instead of searching for all the programs you want to use.

I recommend grouping similar programs together on the Stream Deck that you commonly use at the same time. If you are like me, you can create a program folder for work, games, content creation, and more.

Folder Shortcuts

Before performing this step, make sure you have added a new Open action to your Stream Deck workspace.

If you are looking to open up a particular File Explorer folder, the workflow is slightly different. Open up a new File Explorer window and navigate to the desired folder. While viewing the contents of the folder, copy the location from the navigation bar. If the location doesn’t include the full path (ex. C:\Users\Me\Downloads), right-click inside the folder and click Properties to find the actual location on the General tab.

After the proper path has been copied, paste the path inside the App / File input within the Stream Deck software. If it has been set up correctly, pressing the corresponding button should open your folder in a new File Explorer window.

With this handy trick, you can easily access your work files, videos, and pictures without digging through a confusing mess of folders.

2. Hotkeys

The number one way to improve your productivity on the computer is to start using hotkeys more often. If you have trouble remembering hotkeys, don’t worry; you can easily map any hotkey to a button on your Stream Deck.

Hotkeys are basically just keyboard shortcuts to easily perform various tasks with minimal user input. There are many hotkeys built into Windows, web browsers, and almost any other program. They are very easy to use and will save you time and sanity while working on the computer.

Hotkey Action

Follow these simple steps to add the Hotkey action to your Stream Deck:

  1. Open the Stream Deck software.
  2. In the actions sidebar on the right, find the Hotkey action under the System category.
  3. Click and drag the action to the left into the button slot of your choosing.
  4. After adding it to your workspace, you will see additional options appear below the grid.

Note: The Hotkey Switch action is very similar to the Hotkey action, but it allows you to assign two different hotkeys to a single button that works in a toggle-like fashion.

Stream Deck Hotkey Action

Assigning Hotkeys

Before performing this step, make sure you have added a new Hotkey action to your Stream Deck workspace.

Now that the Hotkey action is set up, we need to assign a keyboard shortcut to it. In the options panel, click inside the Hotkey input where it says “Click to assign”. After clicking in the field, press the keys for the keyboard shortcut you want. For example, hold the control (CTRL) key and then press the “C” key if you wanted a shortcut for the copy text command.

If you are interested in more hotkey options, click the down arrow next to the Hotkey field in order to see additional keys that are not available on most keyboards. From this menu, you can find F keys from F1 to F24, media control keys, and other useful options.

Useful Hotkeys

With so many different hotkeys available for different programs, it can be hard to narrow down which ones will be the most useful for you. To get you started, search online for the program name you plan on using followed by “hotkeys” or “keyboard shortcuts”. Many programs also have these shortcuts listed in a menu if you are having trouble finding information online.

If you are a Windows user like me, there are plenty of useful Windows 10 shortcuts that I use almost every day. For starters, did you know that you can open the Task Manager by pressing CTRL, SHIFT, and ESC at the same time? If you map that to a hotkey on the Stream Deck, you only need to press one button instead of three!

Other useful shortcuts:

  • Lock your computer with Windows Key + L
  • Open a File Explorer window with Windows Key + E
  • Open Windows settings with Windows Key + I
  • Maximize your current window with Windows Key + Up Arrow
  • Minimize your current window with Windows Key + Down Arrow

After setting up the basics, start exploring more advanced shortcuts for your favorite programs. If you work with Adobe’s Creative Cloud software, there are unlimited opportunities to boost your productivity with hotkeys and keyboard shortcuts.

I recommend spending a day on the computer working as you normally would, while also paying attention to the actions you find yourself repeating over and over. Do those repetitive tasks have a shortcut you can take advantage of? If so, then set it up on the Stream Deck. You will be extremely productive in no time.

3. Text Shortcuts

Typing is the worst. Well, typing the same things over and over again is the worst; yet some of us still do it daily. Even if you think you don’t repeat yourself when you’re typing, you probably do to some extent.

Think about your daily work routine. Do you start it by replying to emails? If you get a lot of the same emails, you may be responding to them with roughly the same response every time.

Your name, address, and phone number are also repeated constantly, so why not have a single button type these things for you? Luckily, the Text action on the Stream Deck can do just that.

Text Action

Follow these simple steps to add the Text action to your Stream Deck:

  1. Open the Stream Deck software.
  2. In the actions sidebar on the right, find the Text action under the System category.
  3. Click and drag the action to the left into the button slot of your choosing.
  4. After adding it to your workspace, you will see additional options appear below the grid.

With the action added, all you need to do next is type in the Text input that is provided. If you want the Stream Deck to automatically hit Enter after the message, check the checkbox below the input.

Stream Deck Text Action

You can type anything in the input as long as it is 500 characters or less. It supports letters, numbers, special characters, symbols, and even emojis! If you wanted to craft an email or a reusable template, it also supports newlines and tabs.

After adding your text, go ahead and open a new Notepad window and hit the button! It should work almost instantly and enter the text that you provided. Magic.

4. AutoHotkey Integration

AutoHotkey is one of the best Windows programs for increasing your productivity. It’s completely free, open-source, and easy to use.

If you’ve never heard of it, AutoHotkey (commonly referred to as AHK) is a scripting language that can be used to set up custom hotkeys, scripts, macros, and more. It has a ton of practical applications and I use it every single day.

AHK has fantastic documentation that includes a quick start tutorial, detailed explanations on how each command works, and tons of real-world examples.

So how does AutoHotkey tie into the Stream Deck? Well, since AHK provides the ability to create custom hotkeys to do pretty much anything, you can then set up that same hotkey on the Stream Deck to perform the custom script.

I recommend downloading AutoHotkey and completing the Beginner Tutorial to understand how the program works. If it seems too complicated or confusing, don’t get discouraged. It only takes a few minutes to learn how to write simple scripts.

After learning the basics, try to create a couple custom commands on your own. Each script file can have as many commands in it as you want. When mapping your commands to your Stream Deck, it’s important to remember the Hotkey Modifier Symbols that AutoHotkey uses. The table below will show the most common symbols and the modifier keys they represent.

AutoHotkey Modifier SymbolModifier Key
#Win (Windows logo key)
!Alt
^Control (Ctrl)
+Shift

Using the table above, if you wanted your custom command to run when you pressed Ctrl, Alt, and X at the same time, your command would start with ^!x:: and would be followed by the script code to be executed.

After finishing your AHK script, save the file and then double-click it to run. If you want your script to run automatically each time your computer starts, you can put it in your Windows Startup folder.

  1. Press and hold the Windows key and press R
  2. When the Run dialog opens, type shell:startup and click OK
  3. A new File Explorer should open with the Startup folder contents
  4. Move your script file to the folder and you’re done!

With your script running, try pressing the hotkey combination on your own to make sure the custom command works. If it does, you are ready to add this new hotkey to your Stream Deck! Follow the steps from the Hotkey section above to add a new Hotkey action and map it to the correct key combination. With the new Stream Deck action set up, hit the button and watch the custom magic happen!

5. Multi Actions

This last item will be short and sweet because it’s a combination of everything I have already talked about, and more! Multi Actions allow the user to perform multiple Stream Deck actions at once with a single press of a button. Each action can be spaced apart using intervals or they can all be run simultaneously.

The Multi Actions feature was introduced with the Elgato Stream Deck software version 3.1, so if you don’t see it, make sure you update to the latest version.

With Multi Actions, the possibilities are endless. If there are actions that you commonly perform one after another, assign them to one action to save a bunch of time and frustration. If you work from home, you can launch Chrome, Slack, and unmute your microphone all with a tap. Do you stream? Open up Twitch and OBS, send out a tweet, and start streaming. It’s that simple.

Multi Action

Follow these simple steps to add a Multi Action to your Stream Deck:

  1. Open the Stream Deck software.
  2. In the actions sidebar on the right, find Multi Action under the Stream Deck category.
  3. Click and drag the action to the left into the button slot of your choosing.
  4. After adding it to your workspace, you will see a new blank area that you can add actions to.
  5. Add the actions to the left that you want to execute with the Multi Action.
  6. If you want to add a delay between actions, search for the Delay action under the Stream Deck category and drag it to the left. Hint: 1000 ms is equal to 1 second.
Stream Deck Multi Action

When your Multi Action is all set up, test it out! Does it perform all the actions you wanted it to? Were the delays (if you added them) long enough between each action? Tweak the settings until everything is running smoothly.

I think you’ll find Multi Actions to be a huge help in your day-to-day work. They are a great way to combine all the other tricks you learned about in the previous steps. Like I said, I use these hacks every single day and I save tons of time by eliminating repetitive or tedious tasks.

Conclusion

Thank you for taking the time to read through my Stream Deck productivity hacks! I love this piece of hardware and I am not sure how I ever survived without one before. I am constantly exploring new ways to save time and have fun with the Stream Deck.

I hope you’ve learned something new today and can start saving time in your daily routine. Do you have any Stream Deck tips I didn’t cover in this article? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

Go have fun with your Stream Deck, explore the new possibilities, and most importantly, be productive.

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