If you live stream on platforms like Twitch or YouTube, you’ve likely experienced how tricky it can be to host and manage your stream simultaneously. You don’t want to sit there fiddling through the menus of your streaming software to change scene, play audio, enable devices, and so on—it makes for a bad viewing experience.
That’s where the Elgato Stream Deck comes in. It’s a piece of kit that sits on your desk, made up of a series of tactile LCD buttons that you can customize to perform actions on your computer. It’s a complete game changer for your streaming workflow.
In this guide, we’re going to show you how to set up and use the Elgato Stream Deck to live stream like a pro.
1. Connect and Set Up Your Elgato Stream Deck
We’re assuming you’re reading this because you already have an Elgato Stream Deck. If you don’t, check out our guide on which Stream Deck model you should buy. Essentially, it depends on how many LCD buttons you need. For most, the Mini or MK.2 will do the job nicely.
Once purchased, connect the Stream Deck to your computer via USB. Elgato recommends you plug it in directly to a USB port on your system and don’t use a USB hub. Then, download and install the Stream Deck app.
2. Create the Stream Deck Actions
When it comes to controlling your stream with the Stream Deck, there are two aspects to consider: your streaming software and your streaming platform.
Your streaming software could be tools like OBS Studio or Streamlabs, while your streaming platform could be a service like Twitch or YouTube.
For the examples in this guide, we’ll pair OBS Studio and Twitch, but the process is the same regardless of what you use.
a. Link to Your Streaming Software
Open the Stream Deck software and your streaming software.
On the Stream Deck software, look at the right-hand menu. This categorizes the buttons you can place on your Deck. Look for your streaming software here and click it to expand the heading.
If you can’t find it, click the Stream Deck Store icon (it looks like a colorful Stream Deck with a plus). Go to Plugins, find your streaming software, and click Install. Then close the Store.
Drag and drop the actions from the menu to where you want them placed on your Deck. For example, OBS Studio provides buttons for Scene, Mixer Audio, Record, Stream, and Source.
These are all things you can manually control in OBS Studio, but you can use the Stream Deck to automate them in a single button press.
Let’s say you want a button that enables and disables your camera. Drag Source into a slot and click the icon.
Here you can give the button a Title, which appears on the Deck itself. Choose the OBS Scene you want to target and the Source (in this case, whatever your webcam is called).
Now, when you push this button on your Stream Deck, it will toggle your webcam on and off for the chosen scene.
For another example, let’s say you want a button that moves to a particular OBS Scene (your “just chatting” or gaming scene, perhaps). Drag the Scene icon onto the Deck and click it. Give the button a Title, if desired, and select a Scene from the dropdown.
b. Link to Your Streaming Platform
You can also place buttons to control your streaming platform (like Twitch or YouTube). Again, look for it on the right-hand menu, or install it via the Store.
For example, the Twitch integration lets you send messages into your chat, enable followers-only mode, play ads, slow chat, create a clip, and much more.
Unfortunately, the YouTube plugin is far more limited. You can only create Chat Message and Viewers buttons.
When you’ve found the right category on the menu, it works the same way as before. Click and drag from the menu and place the button on the Deck.
The first time you do this, you’ll need to link your account. To do this, click a button. On the bottom pane, use the Account dropdown and select Add New. Log in to your Twitch/YouTube/etc. account in the pop-up window. Once linked, you can then select your account via the dropdown.
3. Customize the Stream Deck Icons
If you want to make your Stream Deck truly personal, you can customize the icons. You can download icon packs from the Stream Deck Store or create your own.
To change a button’s icon, first click it. From the bottom pane, click the dropdown arrow on the button. Select Set from File, Create New Icon, or Open Stream Deck Icon Library, depending on where you want to source the image from.
If your button has an on/off state, you can use the toggles to switch between them and customize the icon for each.
4. Organize the Stream Deck With Folders
Depending on the size of your Stream Deck, you may quickly find yourself running out of buttons. That’s where pages and folders come in. It essentially allows you to have unlimited buttons.
To add a page, look beneath your buttons. Next to Pages, click the plus icon. Bear in mind that you will need spare slots for the forward and back pages.
You can also group your buttons into folders. To do this, right-click a button and select Move to Folder. Then go back a screen, and drag and hold a button over the folder to position it inside.
You can rename and change the icon of your folders, like you can with a standard button.
Take Your Stream Deck to the Next Level
Have a play around with your Stream Deck and explore everything it has to offer. It’ll certainly make your streaming life much easier, letting you focus on entertaining the audience.
Plus, the Stream Deck can do more than just help you with live streams. It’s also a great productivity tool.
The Elgato Stream Deck has applications far beyond game streaming. Here’s how you can use it to boost your productivity and speed up your workflow.
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