Workflow Hacks: Stream Deck
Take your efficiency to the next level!
Workflow hacks are addictive. If you want to expand your key command prowess and speed things up exponentially, check out the Stream Deck from Elgato. It features 15 fully-customizable LCD buttons, which you can map to almost anything.
Although it's originally designed for live streaming, it is super useful for audio use too!
Within the Stream Deck software, you can create different profiles for each app that you use. The Stream Deck will switch between these automatically as you change apps.
At its basic level, you can set each button to a key command within your DAW/other application. This is useful for complex multi-button commands, as it saves you memorizing the various combinations, and it's quicker to press one button on the Stream Deck than play Twister with your fingers to execute certain commands.
To get more in depth, you can set up what Elgato calls "multi-actions", which are essentially macros. This can be especially useful for repetitive tasks such as audio editing, as you can set a single button on the Stream Deck to perform multiple key commands in succession, add time delays if necessary, and instantly type text too.
Of course, you aren't limited to just 15 commands. You can create folder buttons on the Stream Deck, which you can nest another 14 commands inside. Folders within folders are possible too!
The examples in this article are designed for Logic, but of course, you can tailor it to your own workflow with Pro Tools, Cubase, Studio One, Reaper etc.
Currently, I have the following profiles set up for my Stream Deck:
- Logic Pro X
- Guitar Pro
- iLok License Manager
My Logic Pro profile obviously has the most in-depth commands and multi-actions. I also created some custom key commands that weren't otherwise possible, you can read how to do that here: Mac Tips: Custom Key Commands.
I've created buttons for faster navigation, like jump forward and backward by 8 bars. Some key commands I never memorized like Strip Silence have buttons. I also have buttons specifically for the renaming of tracks. The more in-depth buttons I have are multi-actions that execute a few tasks in one fell swoop.
Flex Time in Logic doesn't like the transient being ahead of the beat, but behind the beat is fine. It's pretty common for us imperfect humans to rush slightly ahead of the beat. For this reason, my "Auto Quantize" button does the following: Changes the nudge value to 1/64th note, nudges the selected audio to the right by that value, switches the nudge back to 1/16th note (my default), it then quantizes the audio to the set division, 16th notes.
Within the Stream Deck software, you can set up an "Open" action, then drag any folder from Finder to create a shortcut to it. I did this for my external SSDs, for Projects and Samples.
In Chrome, I have set up buttons for various websites used to run PluginFox. I can launch straight to them far quicker than any bookmark within Chrome. For example, this allows me to jump right into the PluginFox Deals group on Facebook without the inevitable distraction of the rest of the Facebook feed.
In Spotify, I set myself the challenge of playing specific playlists at the press of a button. These playlists were my 5 Daily Mixes and Release Radar. Spotify's key commands and menu access are very limited in this aspect. I used the Spotify web player to grab the URL of each playlist (something that wasn't possible in the Desktop app). I then used a multi-action to focus on the search bar, and type the URL.
Hopefully in the future, Elgato creates an actual Spotify integration that works on a deeper level than what I hacked together.
As an Android nerd, when I take a photo on my phone it automatically uploads to Google Photos, so I assigned a button to open Google Photos, then download the latest photo taken. This is a quick way for me to get pictures from my phone to the desktop. I used this when creating this article and taking photos of the Stream Deck.
Is it worth it?
The 15-key Stream Deck is $150, so not super cheap. But if you agree with the mindset that time is money, Stream Deck will save you so much time within the first few sessions, that it's worth its weight in gold.
You can buy it here: Stream Deck on Amazon