Hardware Smart Home Software

Can I run Mac Shortcuts on a Stream Deck?

Stream Deck XL
Button up: Mac Shortcuts can be initiated from a Stream Deck

The macOS Shortcuts app lets you create simple, yet powerful, automations for your device. A bit like the popular IFTTT, you can use it to construct actions, such as to start applications, get content, etc. You can even use a Shortcut to do something as simple as turning a smart light on or off.

The Elgato Stream Deck is a similar sort of concept, except the Stream Deck offers hardware buttons to instigate commands. However, you can combine the power of both and use your Stream Deck to run any of your Shortcuts via a simple button press. Here’s how to do it.

Mac keyboard shortcuts

Mac keyboard shortcuts

Adding the Shortcuts plugin to your Stream Deck

  1. On your Mac, open up the Stream Deck app
  2. In the top-right of the window, click the following icon:
Stream Deck software
  1. This will open up a second window where you can add extra functionality to your Stream Deck
  2. Ensure the “Plugins” tab on the left-hand side is selected
  3. In the top-right search field look for “Shortcuts”
  4. When you find the plugin, press the “Install” button next to it to add it to your Stream Deck
Stream Deck plugins
Installing the Shortcuts plugin to the Stream Deck
  1. Close this window and return back to the main Stream Deck window

How to use the Shortcuts plugin on your Stream Deck

  1. Search for “Shortcuts” in the top-right search field
  2. You can now drag/drop the “Launch Shortcut” onto any empty key space
  3. At the bottom of the screen you can modify which Shortcut it runs and the icon being used. There is even an accessibility option for vision-impaired users
Assigning one of the default Shortcuts to a Stream Deck button

Current limitations

At the moment the plugin doesn’t do much more than run a specific shortcut – you can’t pass anything into it from the Stream Deck or even return it back.

I have a Shortcut that grabs the current temperature from a sensor in my home office and returns the result as a pop-up text window. It would be pretty cool, for example, to have that result instead shown on the Stream Deck button.

The future of the plugin

The developer of the plugin is extremely receptive to feedback. If you have a grounding in Swift programming then you can help with development via their Github repo and even report issues. They also have a Discord community, which you can freely join – if you have any ideas for improvement, then do contact them. I did so for the above suggestion (placing the Shortcut result in the button output) and they are now looking into implementing just this.

At the moment they are focusing on bug fixes, but in the near future the plan is to add the following new features:

  • Pass Shortcut input via text or clipboard
  • Pass Shortcut output back to the Stream Deck button
  • Create or edit a Shortcut from the Stream Deck Shortcut’s key
  • UUID-based running, which allows the plugin to keep track of a shortcut and persist your preferences, even if you change the name of your Shortcut
  • Display Shortcuts image as the key’s image
  • The ability to set Accessibility mode on a per-key basis

About the author

David Artiss

Works for Automattic Inc., the company behind WordPress.com and Tumblr. Tech geek, international speaker and occasional PC Pro podcaster. Lover of Lego and video games.

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