My son bought me an Elgato Stream Deck for Christmas. At first, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. After doing research and playing with it over the holidays, I not only improved the efficiency of my every day computer tasks, I also made my photo processing more productive as well.
What is an Elgato Stream Deck?
An Elgato Stream Deck is an electronic device that plugs into a USB port on your computer. The Stream Deck allows you automate computer tasks at the touch of a button. I have the 15 Button Stream Deck MK.2; There is also 6 button Stream Deck Mini and a 32 button Stream Deck XL.
You are not just limited to the number of buttons of the Stream Deck model. Each button on the Stream Deck can invoke another menu (called Profiles on the stream deck). For example, I have a default or main profile that has a sub-profile for Lightroom that is invoked when I press the Lightroom button on the default profile.
Is Creating Macros on the Stream Deck Difficult?
Creating a macro on the Stream Deck is easy; just drag an action from the right hand column of the Stream Deck on top of the button that you want to program. At the bottom of the screen, you can set up the action.
For the Facebook button, I drug the Website Action over the button I wanted to use for Facebook and pasted the Facebook URL in the URL text field at the bottom of the screen.
You can also have multiple actions that occur when a button is pressed. For the Lightroom button, I have it launch Adobe Lightroom Classic and switch to the Lightroom profile. You can also have Stream Deck switch to that profile automatically when a specific application is in the foreground.
You can also add icons to the individual buttons by using the icon tile on the bottom left of the screen. To get icons, you can use one of the icons that come with the Stream Deck application, use the icon editor on the Elgato website, download the icon from the Internet, or create an icon with a graphic design program. Elgato recommends an icon size of 72 x 72 pixels.
While you can automate many things with the Stream Deck itself, you can create even more powerful macros when combining it with a scripting or automation tool like Apple Shortcuts or Keyboard Maestro. In the examples in this blog, I’ll include what tools I used to create the macro.
Using a macro or scripting software like Keyboard Maestro or Apple Shortcuts will require a bit more research but there is plenty of documentation and sample scripts available.
What Can you Automate on a Stream Deck?
Before we get into automating Proto Processing, let’s look at some of the everyday computer actions that you can automate with Stream Deck.
Non Photo Processing Macros
Morning Start (Stream Deck Only)
Opens up Mail, Reminders for my To Do list, and the websites I like to check / read in the morning (weather, Flipboard, Google Analytics, etc.).
Play my Favorite Apple Music Playlist (Stream Deck, Apple Shortcuts)
Launches Apple Music and starts my playlist. There is also a plug-in in Elgato’s app store with several commands for Apple Music like: Play, Shuffle, Next Track, and Previous Track. Add you need to do is drag and drop each of these actions on to a Stream Deck button. All the plug-ins in the Elagato App Store are free.
Add a PDF File to Apple Books (Stream Deck, Apple Shortcuts)
Select a PDF file in Finder, press one button and the PDF file will be added to Books app. Set up iCloud synching, and the file will be added to all your Apple devices. This is a quick way to add your camera manual to your mobile device for reference in the field.
Copy the Current Safari URL to the Clipboard (Stream Deck, Keyboard Maestro)
I post my new blog posts and other interesting articles to social media. I can copy the URL in a single button push.
Now let’s look at how Elgato Stream Deck can speed up your photo processing.
Stream Deck Macros for Adobe Lightroom
Good news for Adobe Lightroom users. There is a free Lightroom panel that is a great starting point for your lightroom automation. It is available in the show notes of a YouTube video on Building an Adobe Lightroom Shortcut Panel for Elgato Stream Deck XL by Chad Morena.
I’ve kept some of Chad’s macros but also added several of my own for actions that I frequently do in Adobe Lightroom Classic.
Delete Rejected (Stream Deck, Keyboard Maestro)
I really don’t like culling files, especially for birds and wildlife photography where my OM System OM-1 can shoot at 50 frames per second. I like to be as efficient as possible when culling photos so I can get done as fast as I can.
I created a macro to delete my rejected photos when culling. Press the x key in Lightroom to set a photograph as rejected. I used Keyboard Maestro to create the macro since it has the ability to click on a button. That way I can automatically click on Delete from Disk after it invokes the Delete Rejected action.
Export (Stream Deck Only)
I frequent export my photos for posting on social media and on my blog. This action maps to a Hot Key to invoke the Export Dialog.
Go to my Lightroom Processed Photos Folder (Stream Deck, Keyboard Maestro)
I use a Blue Flag to mark my processed photos that I haven’t yet posted to social media. Keyboard Maestro has a feature where it will find and click on a matching image on the screen. I used this to click on an image of the word “Folder” at the bottom of the screen and then click on my favorited Processed Image folder. The macro then clicks on the Blue Label filter. It’s a pretty powerful macro and saves me a lot of time.
Stream Deck Macros for Adobe Photoshop
I didn’t find a plug-in or panel to download for Photoshop so I need to set up the macros for each button myself.
Merge, Save, and Close (Stream Deck Only)
This macro executes 3 consecutive hot keys: Merge Visible, Save, and Close. Unless I think I’ll need to go back and edit a layer, I like to flatten the image before saving. This macro executes all 3 hotkeys with the push of a single Steam Deck Button.
New Layers from Layers (Stream Deck Only)
Adobe uses the Command + Shift + Option + E shortcut to merge a copy of all visible layers into a new layer. It can be hard to remember these 4 key shortcuts. This and other 4 key shortcuts are good candidates to add to a Stream Deck button.
Automatically Launch My Favorite Plug-ins (Stream Deck, Keyboard Maestro)
I created buttons to launch my favorite plug-ins with the Stream Deck. If the plug-in supports Smart Objects, the macro will Duplicate the Current Layer, Convert the Layer to a Smart Object, and launch the plug-in. Keyboard Maestro has an action that will execute menu items which makes it really easy to launch plug-ins under the Photoshop Filter Menu.
Toggle Selection Tools (Stream Deck, Keyboard Maestro)
I use the Magic Wand Tool, Quick Selection Tool, and the Object Selection Tool in Photoshop. All of them are under the same tool button and are all activated with the W key. I set up a button on the Stream Deck that activates the Selection Tools and toggles thru them with each click of the button.
I used the Click on the Found image action with the Option Key modifier (simulates holding down the option key while clicking) in Keyboard Maestro to toggle thru the different selection tools until I get to the tool I want. I used the Lasso Tool as the image to find since I always keep it as the active tool under that Photoshop button.
By itself, the Elgato Stream Deck can help you increase the productivity of your photo processing and your computer work in general. If you couple the Stream Deck with a scripting / automation software, you can assign some really powerful macros to Stream Deck buttons that can save you a lot of time.
Written by Martin Belan
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