7 ways to use the Elgato Stream Deck beyond livestreaming

If you love shortcuts, the Stream Deck might be the device for you.
An Elgato Stream Deck under a wall-mounted TV, in a room with blue lighting.
The Elgato Stream Deck is more versatile than you might have realized. Elgato

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The Elgato Stream Deck is traditionally associated with livestreaming, but its usefulness goes way beyond. If you own one, there are numerous ways to incorporate it into your daily life, and if you don’t have one because you’re not a streamer, you just might want to reconsider.

The Stream Deck itself is a physical panel of hardware shortcut buttons that can be used to switch views, add sounds, drop in overlays, and manage a variety of other enhancements and options super quickly. This means you can use it and its siblings (the Stream Deck Mini, the Stream Deck XL, and the Stream Deck Plus) as a control panel for all kinds of computing tasks.

1. Control your music

Dive into the Stream Deck software and you’ll see there’s a System section in the actions list on the right. One of the entries there is Multimedia, which will give you a full selection of audio playback keys: They include start, stop, skip backward, and skip forward.

That means you can manage anything that’s playing with a single tap, should you need to quickly pause your music or pass by a track you really don’t want to hear. The Multimedia actions include system volume controls as well, making it even more useful.

2. Set custom timers

The timer tool for the Elgato Stream Deck.
Count down a specific length of time with the Stream Deck’s timer function. David Nield

When you want to time a lunch break or a study session, you could use a phone app or simply type “timer” into Google. No matter what your standard method of timekeeping is, there’s a good chance it’s not as simple or convenient as the Stream Deck timer.

In the Stream Deck desktop program, find the Stream Deck heading, add Timer to your list of buttons, then specify how long you want it to run. Once the button has been set up, press it to see the minutes and seconds tick away on the Stream Deck’s LED panel, and you can choose a sound to play when time has run out.

3. Switch between audio inputs

If you have both headphones and built-in speakers connected to your computer, switching between them is more of an effort than it really should be. The Audio Switcher plug-in available in the Stream Deck App Store makes it much more straightforward.

Once it’s installed, you can quickly toggle between available audio devices or set a specific one with a button push. You’ll never again have audio blaring out of your speakers when it should have been sent to your headphones.

4. Run any kind of task

Essentially, you can assign any keyboard shortcut to a button on the Stream Deck, so your options are wide open for any program you use. One way to do this is via the Hotkey action under the System heading: just specify the keyboard shortcut you’d like it to launch.

[Related: 20 essential Windows keyboard shortcuts]

This works with shortcuts that already exist, but you can create your own series of actions too. If you want a shortcut that, say, resizes images or opens folders, check out the Super Macro plug-in from the Elgato app store. Once you have it, you’ll be able to assign an action to a keyboard shortcut, then add it to the Stream Deck.

5. Level up your video meetings

The MuteDeck plugin in the Elgato Stream Deck App Store.
MuteDeck is a great plug-in for video calls. David Nield

Many of us have had the experience of fumbling around for the right button to press to unmute a microphone or leave a meeting when on a video call, but the MuteDeck plug-in from the Stream Deck store assigns these key features and several more to buttons. You’ll never fumble on a video call again.

The plug-in is compatible with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Webex by Cisco. You can also use it to start sharing your screen and to switch between multiple cameras if you have more than one webcam connected—all just a button push away.

6. Open websites and programs

Sure, you can open websites and programs the conventional way, but the Stream Deck offers a Website action (for websites) and an Open action (for applications) under System that make the process very straightforward.

[Related: How to livestream an event for all your friends and family]

Add the Windows Mover & Resizer plug-in from the Stream Deck app store, and you can set the exact location on screen that your program windows open (and on which monitor, if you have more than one).

You can then go further and combine that plug-in with the Multi Action action (under Multi Action) that the Stream Deck offers out of the box. When you’re done, you’ll be able to sit down at your computer, press one key on the Stream Deck, and launch all your important applications in specific positions on the display.

7. Control your smart lights

The Stream Deck works with smart lights from a variety of brands, including Philips Hue, Nanoleaf, and Eve. Rather than messing around in an app on your phone, you can simply tap a Stream Deck button to turn lights on and off, set scenes and colors, and so on.

Head to the Stream Deck store inside the desktop application to find the plug-ins you need for your lights. In the case of Philips Hue, for instance, you’re able to switch scenes, cycle between colors, and change the brightness and contrast. Different buttons can be configured for different lights in your home too.