How to Use an Elgato Stream Deck on Mac for Productivity

The Elgato Stream Deck is a useful tool for creativity and productivity alike. Most people only consider these devices for streaming on a Windows desktop, but the Stream Deck has many unique and useful features for Mac users, especially for productivity.

Furthermore, many of these features are exclusive to Mac, such as integrations with macOS functions and Mac software like Keyboard Maestro. We’re going to show you how to use some of the best Mac plugins for the Elgato Stream Deck.

How to Set Up Your Stream Deck on Mac

You’ll need a physical Stream Deck or the Stream Deck app on your phone or tablet. If you haven’t picked a device yet, see how to choose between the Stream Deck models.

Once you have the required hardware or mobile app, download the Stream Deck software from Elgato’s site. Be sure to select the correct Stream Deck model.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed the Stream Deck software, you’ll likely need some time to get acquainted, such as if you want to learn more about how to use the Stream Deck for streaming. Next, it’s time to download plugins.

Helpful Productivity Stream Deck Plugins for Mac

To download plugins, click the Stream Deck Store icon in the Stream Deck application.

Next, start downloading plugins. We’ll be going over features of the following three plugins:

  1. Shortcuts by SENTINELITE
  2. Finder Tags by Jarno Le Conté
  3. KMLink for Keyboard Maestro (a Mac-exclusive application) by Corcules

These are a few examples, and the Stream Deck Store receives constant updates with new plugins and features. Specifically, Jarno Le Conté, the developer for the Finder Tags plugin, has more Mac-exclusive plugins—for example, an airplane mode toggle and an app switcher.

1. Activate Mac Shortcuts Through the Stream Deck

The Shortcuts app on Mac is a way to automate many things, like enabling Do Not Disturb mode, viewing your next calendar event, or tidying up your files. If you’re unfamiliar, take some time to learn how to access and set up shortcuts on your Mac.

With the Shortcuts plugin for the Stream Deck, you can activate automations from Shortcuts through your Stream Deck.

When you add a Shortcut action to your Stream Deck, you’re presented with various fields:

  • Folder is which folder of Shortcuts you’re choosing from.
  • Shortcut is which shortcut you’d like to use from that folder.
  • Accessibility does what the name suggests—it adds accessibility options to your shortcut. For example, you can have a voice tell you which shortcut you’re running, and you can add a required amount of time to hold the shortcut command before it activates.

Shortcuts for Mac can be complex at first, but mastering this useful tool and putting it in easy reach via the Stream Deck can dramatically enhance your productivity.

Keeping your data organized can be tricky. Thankfully, Finder on Mac offers tags in numerous colors to help with sorting, but it’s an easily forgotten feature.

The Finder Tags plugin for Stream Deck allows for easy tagging and untagging of single or bulk files. Simply select your files and tag them with a tap of a button on the Stream Deck.

To illustrate, here’s an example of how quickly you can use this plugin to tag files.

  1. Select your files and folders to tag.

  2. Using whichever color you’ve selected, press your Finder tag command on your Stream Deck.

  3. Your files now have your tag of choice! You can use the same Stream Deck command to remove tags as well.

The plugin also offers additional features, such as creating and applying custom tags, clearing all tags, and setting up a color wheel to use only one button to cycle through different tag colors.

Let’s say you have lots of files for a project. You might want to rapidly label all the files from that project in the same color. Similarly, you might use one tag to denote that a file can be archived while others should remain more easily accessible. Moreover, you might use the custom color wheel to visually denote progress on a project. You can achieve all of this and more within a few simple actions.

While the Finder tagging feature exists on macOS without Stream Deck, this plugin makes this feature significantly more usable.

3. Trigger Advanced Keyboard Maestro Automations

Keyboard Maestro is a powerful and complex automation tool for Mac. It costs a one-time fee of $36. It offers advanced functions including triggering and editing shortcuts, simulated typing, dynamic triggers for macros, and advanced clipboard utilities.

With the KMLink plugin, you can activate Keyboard Maestro automations directly from your Stream Deck. Let’s explore how to use this in conjunction with the Stream Deck’s multi-action commands feature.

Use Multi-Action Commands on the Stream Deck With Mac Plugins

To really get creative with these plugins, try using the Stream Deck’s multi-action feature. The Shortcuts plugin is incompatible with multi-action commands, as many shortcuts themselves have multiple steps. However, KMLink offers a workaround to trigger shortcuts.

Using this workaround, you gain many options for multi-actions featuring these Mac-exclusive utilities. For example, you could set a shortcut to activate Do Not Disturb for as long as desired, then open your productive application of choice for some focused deep work.

To set up this kind of workflow using Shortcuts, Keyboard Maestro, and a multi-action command, follow the steps below:

  1. Within Mac’s Shortcut application, create your shortcut. In this case, we’re creating a Do Not Disturb switch.

  2. In Keyboard Maestro, create a new macro. In the Will execute the following actions section, go to the Execute folder, add the Execute a Shortcut action, select your shortcut, and name your macro.

  3. In Stream Deck, create a multi-action command. Place a KMLink action and select the macro you just made, then add whichever additional commands you’d like in the chain. In this case, we’re opening the productivity app Notion, then switching the profile on our Stream Deck to display shortcuts and hotkeys for use within Notion to more quickly customize pages and get work done.

This type of workflow is much less distraction prone than manually changing focus modes and launching an application because it only requires a single touch of the Stream Deck. The creative productivity functions you can set up with multi-actions is limitless, catering to any complex and unique workflows you have.

You can perform similar workflows as achieved with multi-action commands using only Keyboard Maestro macros, but a Stream Deck is much easier to use, supports numerous plugins and software integrations, and has useful features like switching profiles.

Time to Get Creative With Your Stream Deck

This list of Mac-exclusive features for Stream Deck merely serves to get you started. Whether you make complex macros with Keyboard Maestro or only use simple commands, the Stream Deck opens possibilities far beyond the typical use of streaming. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

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