My 3-Monitor Muli-Stream Deck Setup

Equipment
Mac: 2019 Mac Pro (I know…)
Monitors: Two NEC PA322UHD 32" 4K displays, center monitor is a Dell U4021QW 40" 5K ultra-wide.
Stream Decks: Two XL models.
Desks: Two Evodesk XE Standing Desks. Sit on top of my existing Desk. Let me raise two of my monitors so I can work standing up.
Microphone: Shure PG48 XLR Mic. Connected to mac via a Shure X2u USB interface. On a small adjustable boom.
Camera: Green Extreme 1080p. On a small adjustable boom.
Speakers: two Full size Home Pods

Not Shown
ScanSnap (off to the side)
Speakers: two Full size Home Pods
Two 4-Bay OWC ThunderBay Hard Disk enclosures under desk. Used for Backup via Chronsync. I have three - one always kept offsite.

Automation
I use DEVONTHINK for everything. I have 30+ gb in 10 DEVONTHINK databases.

  • The right STREAM DECK is user driven.
  • The left STREAM DECK is driven by the Active app. It automatically switches to the profile for that app. I also have an index page and can access any app profile manually.

Having STREAM DECK Application profiles lets me use labeled buttons to remember what that application can do. I find I use far more of the capabilities of the apps I use than I did pre-STREAM DECK. I also have buttons for each app that do multi-step things. No more remembering hundreds of keystrokes!

I use KEYBOARD MAESTRO to automate everything I can. I have hundreds of macros. Many of these macros are activated by a STREAM DECK Button. For me, KEYBOARD MAESTRO is crucial to utilizing the 3 monitors.

I’m into “Contextual” computing

  • I do many complex tasks on a repeated basis. Some daily, some weekly, some monthly some on-demand, etc. Many involve multiple apps, multiple windows or both.
  • I want 1 button to “set up” my computer for these ongoing repeated tasks - I call this a “Context.”
  • I want the Context to be the same each time I do the tasks.
  • I want to easily modify any of my “Contexts.”

I use KEYBOARD MAESTRO to setup Contexts that involve multiple applications. I have a series of sub-macros for window placement.

Most of my “Contexts” use DEVONTHINK. I often have from 2 to 5 DEVONTHINK windows open to specific DEVONTHINK Groups spread across my 3 monitors.

  • Often I’ll put app-specific files in a DEVONTHINK Group (excel, mind maps, omni outliner, etc.) that I may need to access. Double-click that file and it opens in its native app. Some of my Groups contain a series of bookmarks I may also need to access as part of that Context.

This approach saves me a huge amount of time. No more window administration and no more “remembering how I did this” or “where stuff is.” One STEAM DECK button press and I’m set.

How I do it now
– DEVONTHINK: Create a WORKSPACE usually with multiple windows positioned as I want them on my 3 monitors. Each window opens to the group I pre-select. Super easy to modify any workspace at anytime - just change it and save it. Even easier to modify the content in any of the pre-selected groups.

– KEYBOARD MAESTRO: Create a one-line macro that activates a DEVONTHINK workspace. Keyboard Maestro has a “menu” macro step which lets me select a menu item from any application - even submenus. Since this command shows the text of the menu if you name your DEVONTHINK Workspaces well, it is self-documenting.

– STREAM DECK: Assign the Keyboard Macro to a Button on the STREAM DECK. All of my buttons are color-coded with text labels - no remembering what hundreds of icons mean.

How I used to do it:

  • Started with Programming multi-step actions on my STREAM DECK: to open DEVONTHINK and goto a keyboard shortcut. This was both tedious and hard to keep current. It was not intuitively obvious which keystrokes go with which workspaces. I quickly got bogged down as the number of Contexts increased.

  • Moved to creating “Context” macros in KEYBOARD MAESTRO. This involved creating windows, moving them around, then setting the DEVONTHINK Group in each window. Doable, but very time-intensive and difficult to modify each individual context. These macros were complex. Still have to do this for multi-application contexts.

  • Now just doing what I described above. Super quick, self-documenting, and easy to modify.

16 Likes

Impressive setup. Love the 2 Stream Decks. One app driven and one user driven, as it is my one limitation using auto-switching “full screen” application profiles when you lose access to generic buttons such as mute, volume, lights, audio source switching etc. #thinkingofputtinganotheronetomyshoppinglist

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Impressive, indeed! I, too, use DEVONthink 3 to support a lot of my projects. You’ve inspired me to draft a post for the forum detailing how DT3 has become a critical part of my workflow.

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I notice the left most monitor is portrait and not landscape. I’ve seen that before and often wondered what advantage does that provide?

I use it all the time and feel it increases my productivity.

Having 3 Windows “stacked” right next to me (as shown) is easier to see than if they are laid out horizontally they are “closer” to me. This is especially true in a 3-monitor setup.

It’s great for those long web pages you normally have to scroll through. Not all are text - some are table or lists. A quick glance beats scrolling…

Another example would be PDF files. I keep “living memos” on a number of things. An example might be my interactions with my HVAC contractor over the years or my doctor. Prior to seeing them again, I’d review my notes. It is so much faster to glance at multiple pages to find what you want than scroll through them one page at a time. I find “seeing” more information at once makes everything faster.

I often have one window take the lower 2/3 or upper 2/3 of the monitor. This gets most of the benefits of the vertical orientation while leaving room for an additional window.

It’s important to have “fast” window management with 3 monitors. I have a set of Key Board Maestro commands that pop any window into the middle of my main monitor when I want to work on them and can pop them right back when done. I have lots of these - pop a window onto the lower left quadrant of my 3rd monitor, the left half of my main monitor etc… I came up with a color coded (one color for each monitor) numbering system which makes sense for me for my StreamDeck Buttons. I access these via a page on my StreamDeck or a Keyboard Maestro pallette. They also serve as “subroutines” for all of my multi-window contexts. Hit one Stream Deck Button and I might have 10 windows from 3 applications open across my 3 monitors.

Initially I saw no reason to go vertical. But I tested both orientations - I prefer having one monitor vertical (two vertical didn’t work for me).

2 Likes

I for one would love to read it! :slight_smile:

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The longer I looked at that picture, the more I needed a second Stream Deck … Amazon was quick, very quick, and I have had an Easter Monday of tweaking … I should have done this much earlier!

It has definitely solved the profile auto-switching issue. The 2nd Stream Deck now allows me to keep tap on all global functions I need.

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What do you do for work that you have this set up? Pretty incredible.