A Question for Stream Deck Users

Since Keyboard Maestro supports Stream Deck buttons natively, I am considering getting one.

Since I don't want to run the Stream Deck app, I wanted to ask if the Stream Deck users here recommend any third party software that will allow me to assign icons to the Stream Deck Buttons.

I love my Stream Deck!

As far as I know, you can’t use the Stream Deck hardware without having the SD app running in the background. This includes the KM “native” support which requires you to install the KM button interface extension into the SD app. I don’t know of other 3rd party drivers for SD.

May I ask, why don’t you want to run the SD app?

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Exactly: It's not as if the StreamDeck app has a window open all the time.

If you don't want the app you might be better off with an external keypad with sticky labels on. (Yes, I did that before I heard about StreamDeck.) or maybe MetaGrid on iPad.


To paraphrase my father, the navy man, I run my Mac like a tight and clean ship. Nothing unnecessary is needed or allowed.

I only have one third-party utility running on my Mac: Keyboard Maestro. I do use TweetShot to tweet, but once I do my daily tweets, I quit out of it.

Because of the above, my Mac is never slow. I haven't seen a spinning beach ball in years.

Example: my mouse has drivers that are not the best—they would occasionally cause a conflict. My mouse has onboard memory. A long time ago, I set the mouse buttons up, then I quit the drivers—never to open them, unless I decide to reconfigure a button. And the mouse works flawlessly now—no conflicts or beach balls. Pure bliss!

My hope is that Stream Deck does not need an app (windowless or otherwise) to function as button triggers for Keyboard Maestro. Since Keyboard Maestro recognizes the buttons as native USB triggers, the only thing I believe I would need software for would be to set up the icons for the buttons. I know that there is a python script to do that, and was wondering if there were more options (as I know nothing of Python).

May I ask a favor? Can you quit the Stream Deck app, and see if the Stream Deck is functional at all?

I quit SD app and the SD device just goes into "unconnected" mode - it displays the default pattern on the buttons. Pressing any button results in nothing happening.

In KM, it's a different matter, setting up a trigger and pressing an SD button (with the SD app not running) results in this:

KM 0 2021-04-29_17-56-32

Whichever SD button is pressed the same result is obtained. When the SD app is run again, no button is detected as a trigger.

Given everything more or less needs a driver then if you feel the need for a Stream Deck you might feel the need for its drivers. :wink:

When the SD app is not running, does the SD button (as shown in your screenshot) trigger the macro?

My gaming mouse is running quite well without any software apps running on my Mac. So less trumps more in its case. :slight_smile:

While I won't do stickers, I would consider an external keypad. Recommendations?

I’ll check again…

No, the macro isn't triggered.

Much appreciated @tiffle !


I just used an Apple external keypad - for my 15" 2015 MacBook Pro.

I would observe that if you don't have the StreamDeck software you won't get images on the buttons. Which is a big chunk of the point. You might be able to emulate what the StreamDeck software does in that regard - but then you might as well run the tried and tested StreamDeck software at that point.

here's a thread of someone using a dedicated external keyboard


Thank you all for your input.

To follow up, in case my research helps anyone.

I have decided against the Stream Deck, due to the necessity of the Stream App.

I am going with an external keyboard called Planck EZ.

It can be configured with customizable firmware, so it doesn't need an app for daily use.

It will add 47 physical keys (almost triple that using "layers"—a feature that works like a Shift key), is small, and each key can be programed with its own backlit LED color.

I will use the LED colors to identify the purpose of keys by sight (in place of stickers or SD's icons). For example, I will make my Safari macro keys the blue color that matches the Safari icon. Podcasts.app macro keys will be purple, and so on. It seems to be a great solution.

Hi Jim.
Please keep us posted - I, for one, will be very interested to hear how this goes!
Keep safe,

Thanks for linking my post in!
Keep safe,

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I will. It may take some time, as the Planck EZ is built to order (it should arrive in a few weeks).

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btw, the Microsoft Number Keypad works great for additional shortcuts:


Two things:

  1. You can use a $10 numeric keypad with KM.
  2. Command Post is a stable open source quasi alternative to KM, which communicates natively with a number of control surfaces, including the stream deck, without having to.run device specific apps.

Hope that helps.