(Pocket-lint) - The Elgato Stream Deck is one of those pieces of tech that you didn't know you needed - but start using one and you'll wonder how you lived without it. We originally wrote about it as part of our round-up of the best bits of kit a streamer could need.

Here are our favourite Stream Deck uses - and not just for gamers, but for video editors and beyond - to show just how awesome and versatile this device can be.

What is the Elgato Stream Deck?

The Elgato Stream Deck is essentially a small control panel with 15 customisable physical buttons. For people who stream their gaming sessions it's a handy tool to enable multiple controls - without having to leave a game to mess about with buttons, settings or commands elsewhere. 

But it's so much more than that because the Stream Deck can be customised with all manner of (ever-expanding) controls to interact all sorts of things, streamline your gaming, or make your workflow more efficient in other ways. 

1. Customisable controls

The main feature of the Stream Deck is to assist streamers - be that on YouTube, Twitch, Mixer or whatever platform you use. There's a lot to be said for the flexibility of the controls this device gives you.

Sometimes this includes simple controls that help you remain professional. That might be an easy-access button that quickly disables your webcam or mutes your microphone if you need to gobble some food or talk to a family member who's wandered into the room. Alternatively, you could set a mute and deafen button for Discord, so you can temporarily stop your friends from being heard and allow you to talk to your audience without interruption. 

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Other useful controls include buttons to change between scenes - whether switching to in-game footage, a "be right back" break screen, or one that's just you on your camera chatting directly to viewers. All these things can be done within your streaming software, but would generally require alt+tabbing in Windows to click buttons or setting up shortcut keys for each. The Stream Deck makes these actions much more seamless.

2. Easy audience engagement

The Stream Deck is especially handy for quick audience engagement. We've set buttons that allow us to send prepared messages in Twitch at any point in the stream with just a single press. If you find, for example, you're getting regular questions on a certain subject you could craft a reply that you could then simply send to chat with a button press. In our case we've got a YouTube video with tips and tricks for the game we're playing, when people ask for some advice on how to play the game, we can press that button to promote the video. 

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Other simple controls for Twitch include the ability to quickly clip a stream, place a highlight marker for future editing, play an advert, delete the current chat, or change the current chat mode to follower only, emote only, or slow chat. These easy-access controls make it a lot easier to manage your stream without fuss.  

3. Folders within folders

The standard-sized Stream Deck sports 15 buttons. You can also get a mini six-button version, or the massive 32 buttoned Stream Deck XL. Whichever one you choose, you can add even more controls with folders.

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You'll have noticed that each Stream Deck setup photo in this guide has an up/back arrow on the top-left button. That's because Elgato allows you to create folders and put commands within that too. You can even create folders within folders.

We like to group things logically. In our Twitch commands folder, for example, we have a sub-folder that's full of gifs. These gifs can be clicked to show on the stream via Streamlabs OBS. You could even create gif folders for specific moods and have all sorts of relevant reactions to what's happening on stream with just a couple of presses. 

4. Smart home controls 

Another thing we really like about the Elgato Stream Deck is the ability to control things like smart home lighting from the interface. It's compatible with both Philips Hue and Nanoleaf, as well as Elgato's Key Lights, meaning you can program the Stream Deck to give you easy touch controls of various lights in your home. 

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We set it up to control the Philips Hue lights we had in two areas, as well as buttons to adjust brightness, change between scenes and even launch Philips Hue Light Sync. With multi-action buttons, you could set it to turn on various lights in different rooms, adjust brightness and more. You can do some of these things with the standard app or via a voice assistant, but often not in such an efficient and satisfying way. 

5. Video editing

We've also been using the Stream Deck for video editing. You can add controls for all sorts of things, including splitting video tracks, trimming the start and end of clips, activating multi-camera editing, deleting unwanted clips, saving, and much besides. All this can take the place of keyboard shortcuts, meaning you can use the Stream Deck to become more efficient in your video editing endeavours.

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Multi Actions also allows you to customise a series of different actions based on a single click. You could, for example, have one button to open your video editing software, launch the folder on your machine with all the video files in, open a project, open audio software, and more, with just one button press. It's not software specific either, so there are plenty of possibilities.

Taking all these features as a whole, you can see just how powerful the Elgato Stream Deck is and why it's worth buying one - whatever your specialism.

Writing by Adrian Willings.