Save my Stream Deck

I’ve read most of the existing posts I can find with a search, so the answer is probably just, “The Stream Deck is not for you.” But it seems like it should be!

I love keyboard shortcuts. I live in Fantastical and Outlook and 2Do. I have a multi-monitor setup.

Yet the Stream Deck just sits there, untouched, for weeks at a time. I’ve set shortcuts for Zoom. I don’t use them. Sonos controls (which I use to listen to music all day). I don’t use them. Shortcuts to my Fantastical Bookings link. I don’t use them.

It addition to the apps above, Word, Safari, Logos, RealVNC, 1Password, and CleanShot make up 95% of my app usage. I’m open for any ideas you have - because otherwise I just don’t see why this thing is on my desk.

I’ll keep reading old threads as well.

Where is your stream deck positioned? That could be part of the issue.
Mine is sat just above my keyboard in front of my MacBook Pro, if it’s not in easy reach then it probably doesn’t seem like it will save time.
Mine has buttons to run ChronoSync jobs, open all my work apps, close and eject drives at the end of the day, teams and other shortcuts.


I have, for example, on my Streamdeck a setting for every Tabgroup I use within Safari, so I could send a Website with a Button into the right Tabgroup.
I have a setting for Mail, where I could mark, and delete, all Mails within a group (Spam). I use this 5-6 times a Day. I have buttons for Forwarding a Mail, for saving it to Instapaper, for enlarging an E-Mail, or saving it to Devonthink.
I can “operate” Omnifocus from the StreamDeck, switch within Fantastical, operate Music, use scripts within Devonthink, set different think within Obsidian, control my Display, run preset timer, send my Mac into Sleepmode, control Audio and Video during Zoom Sessions and so on…

I think the biggest “trick” in getting StreamDeck to work for you, is to think about the thinks you do frequently on your System, and to think about if those thinks could be simplified by shorten multiple steps into one button.
My Touchpad is placed in front of my StreamDeck, so I could hit the buttons pretty much without changing position while I work with my Mac.


I touch my Stream Deck maybe 20 times a day. Positioning on the desk definitely matters. You want it to sit conspicuously forward, about as far forward as you can get before your elbow has to cramp to use it. If you have a keyboard tray with a second mouse tray on the left, that can be a good spot for a smaller Stream Deck.

If you’re on Zoom a lot, I’m surprised you don’t use the Zoom shortcuts. They were an immediate improvement for me. Do you already have good muscle memory for global Zoom keyboard shortcuts, or just use toggle a physical mute button on a headset? If you don’t have one, try setting a share screen shortcut that selects the window or application you usually use. Try one that auto-joins a recurring call.

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I don’t keep regularly keep my Stream Deck as close as others, but I do use it daily. It turns my lights on and off in the office, for example. I love having one dedicated button for that instead of fumbling through my phone or shouting into the air and hoping Siri responds correctly.

I bring it closer for Zoom calls, however. It took me a little bit of practice to get used to it, which required some awkwardness at first.

I think it’s easiest to begin to use it for tasks that you’ve never done by keyboard shortcuts. If you already know the keyboard shortcut, switching to a new paradigm will feel slow and awkward.

So, I’m never going to use it for entering calendar events, adding to my to-do list, etc. But for something new where I previously had to do some precise mousing, it’s a definite win.

I probably should set it up to open some of my tab groups. That’s a perfect example of a multistep process that (for me) involves several precise mousing steps.

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In my experience, keyboard shortcuts are just as easy if not easier to use than a Stream Deck button.

I have some buttons that do keyboard shortcuts but they are ones I am not used to using and (because I use Better Touch Tool to control my Stream Deck) they are targeted at specific applications, which is easier than manually switching to the application then pressing the keyboard shortcut.

This is where it shines for me. I have an entire group of 14 buttons just for controlling my lights, but some of them also do other things. My “lights off” button not only sends my office lights through a sequence (so I know how long I have to get out of there before it goes dark!) but also lowers my screen brightness, the Stream Deck’s own brightness, and mutes the computer.

Perhaps, rather than thinking of it as an extension of your keyboard, think of it as a physical manifestation of automation.


Just above my mouse (right side of my desk, easy reach). This is a Laptop as a Desktop setup, so I don’t have much ejecting to do. I use spaces a lot and I couldn’t get it figure out to set up my individual desktops with the apps I wanted. It required some form of troubleshooting every time I pushed the button so I gave up.

This could be useful for me - I really love tab groups.

Yes, this makes sense and is what I tried. I have a space for client work, one for communications apps, one for church work, one for VNC work, and one for video meetings. I also use Sonos in my office a lot to stream audio from the computer. It seemed to me there were a lot of things that would be nice to have with a button push, but after investing time in setting them up they don’t work perfectly every time which has contributed to me just ignoring them, I think.


I am on Zoom a couple of times a day. Other than mute/unmute (which I can do with a mouse click) I don’t really fiddle with the settings. None of my calls are recurring. :-/

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I have a the Hue physical remote for my office lights, mounted by the door. I gave up on audio control long ago :wink:

What kind of things are you doing on Zoom with it? All I can think to do is mute/unmute which is pretty simple with a mouse click.

This is almost certainly part of my problem in other apps. I used keyboard shortcuts for a long time.

I have a Hue physical remote mounted by my office door. When I walk out of the office, I just tap a button on it and the lights go out. Your screen brightness and button brightness option is clever, but my monitor goes to sleep after a few minutes of me being away, so I’m not sure it has the value for me.

I apologize if I’m coming across as argumentative - I should have put more “thank you” in my replies! I really do appreciate everyone’s responses. You gave me a few ideas to try, but I also think perhaps I’m just not doing as many “automatable” tasks in my day to day work? Or, I just don’t have the creativity to see them? Or, I just strongly prefer keyboard and mouse shortcuts?

For example, one repeatable task I do a lot of is pasting my Openings links from Fantastical. I made Stream Deck buttons for all three links. I never use them. shift+cmd+v to pull up Paste, one click on the Calendar tab, and two clicks on the correct link. For some reason that muscle memory feels better than moving my right arm the 8" forward to tap the button. I think I might be the problem.

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Mostly I use it to avoid having to precisely mouse to a button when I want to do something quickly:

  • toggle mute
  • toggle video
  • bring Zoom back to the front when it’s become buried by other windows
  • leave a meeting (my favorite!)

I want to add starting screen sharing, too, but that’s less important because if I’m going to screen share, chances are good that I’m already at the keyboard and trackpad, ready with my mouse pointer.

I should add that the buttons on the Stream Deck reflect the toggle status, so if I’m just listening to a Zoom call while doing something else, a quick glance down reassures me that it’s still muted when my cats go racing across my keyboard to reach the window. (I keep the Stream Deck out of their flight path.)

I should add that I have repetitive strain issues and arthritis in my hands and arms. So adding different movement patterns throughout the day (without it slowing me down or becoming annoying) is really helpful.

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There is a StreamDeck PlugIn for Zoom I use in my setup, and I think it is very helpful for me.
Of course, I could do all this with the Mouse, but I am way faster and more reliable doing it by the StreamDeck.
While you often have to wait for people, until they have found the mute, you could see those who have it on one single reliable button.

My biggest use currently is as media buttons, as my current keyboard doesn’t have any!

Ok, probably not helpful, I also have stream deck gathering dust. But I really tried to include it in my workflow! I like how it looks and the idea of having dedicated buttons. So bear with, while I don’t have a use for it, I thought about what its use in my life could be.
The thing is, if what you do on the computer heavily involves your keyboard, moving your hands away from the keyboard is sort of an antipattern to start with! At least that’s true for some folks including me.

The button I used most on my stream desk was a sleep button. For me that fits into the category of stuff I do when I am not actively engaging with my computer. So I guess lights and other things that are not directly related to working on the computer might be a good place to look for use cases.
For me it came down to things that I want to do when sitting in front of my computer/at the desk but not at the computer. Otherwise, for simple one-offs, I might rather launch an Alfred workflow. Media buttons would be a good example, if you are just hanging out at your desk, maybe writing something on a pad of paper/iPad. Then you have a “dedicated music device”. In my pre-kids life that would have totally been a thing for me. My desk was the center of most of my activities at home.

Position-wise, if trying to include it in the at-computer-workflow, for me the best place is directly on the left side of my keyboard, so minimal movement is required. Right hand trackpad, left hand stream deck. That way you could try to use it for tasks while mousing around. Think cut/copy/paste, open/close/new tab (but then how to type into the searchbar? …)

For me, I realized that I don’t wan’t it inbetween typing, so if I really need a grid of buttons to do something else, I could activate a software layer on my keyboard (with hammerspoon or probably keyboard maestro). Theoretically, switching to and from that layer is not an issue, because otherwise switching to the stream deck would also be an issue. Practically, reassigning/learning keyboard shortcuts does the trick for me. Most apps that don’t require keyboard input have modifier-less shortcuts. For browsing I use the vimium plug-in which allows to set keyboard shortcuts without modifiers. In the end, the stream deck sort of comes down to a grid of modifier-less keyboard shortcuts, arranged as you see fit. With the benefit of not interfering with your other shortcuts.

What made me at ease with me not using the stream deck was MacSparky saying that he doesn’t look at the stream deck. Then it is more like a bunch of buttons … wait … like a keyboard :slight_smile: For the visual feedback part of the stream deck, I try to use the menu bar. I mostly just need the mic status as visual feedback and that is displayed for me by the app mic drop.

What I found really useful and don’t want to miss anymore is a footpedal. So if you have the need for more input gadgets, try one!
I use mine to mute my mic and toggle the video call window between “on the side” and “full screen”.
It is very useful in cases where I lean back in a conversation (no hands on the keyboard) or when I am doing other stuff but need/want to chime in to the conversation from time to time (hands on the keyboard, typing in another app). I have cheap plastic footpedal.

Good luck in finding your use or peace :slight_smile:


Have you tried to place the StreamDeck directly behind the Trackpad? I have it like this, and I could reach most buttons on the StreamDeck without even moving my right Hand.
It would help keeping the left hand on the Keyboard, if you are using the Trackpad anyway.

I think I had I there at one point, but will give it another try, when I give my stream deck the last chance.

At what angle have you set it up? I think I will try the steepest one.