Stream Deck: Your Gateway to HomeKit Control

Cupertino, December 7, 2023

While you can control your entire HomeKit setup from an El Gato Stream Deck, the solution is far from obvious. This is what you need to do. Egg, chicken, chicken, egg. While HomeKit remained less successful than, say, Amazon's Alexa ecosystem, third-party companies might only develop Apple's home app as a sideline. Hopefully this will change as Apple and others continue to move forward with the Matter system, meaning they will all work together. But in the meantime, neither Elgato's Stream Deck nor the third-party plugins it supports can control HomeKit. However, these third-party plugins now include a plugin called Shortcuts by Sentinelite. It also can't control HomeKit, but it can control shortcuts, and that changes everything. Stream Deck has always been able to open apps, and you can create app versions of your shortcuts. So, for example, you can create a shortcut to turn on a light, then turn that into an app and then have Stream Deck open it. But it was trickier to do than that sounds, and you also get a lot of apps that do nothing other than perform specific shortcuts. With Sentinelite's free plugin you can now activate shortcuts instantly and much more easily. So now the job just becomes creating shortcuts to do what you want, and then using Sentinelite's plugin to assign shortcuts to Stream Deck buttons. First write a shortcut to control a lamp in your house, for example. How to use your Stream Deck to control HomeKit No matter what specifically you want to do with HomeKit, the process is always the same. You want one Stream Deck button to activate at least one HomeKit light or door or whatever. So your first step is to decide what you want to happen, and then your second step is to create a shortcut to do that. This has nothing to do with Stream Deck yet, you create a very small Mac app - and you do it using shortcuts. Start with Shortcuts Open Shortcuts on Mac Click the plus sign to start a new one. For example, call it Office lights on or Kitchen lights off. In the Search for apps and actions box, type Home. From the actions that appear, choose the action that appears Start Control and the name of your house. In the action that now starts with "Setup", click where it says Scenes and Accessories. Choose the room, then the desired lamp or other accessory and click Next. To choose whether you want the accessory on or off, click Close this new shortcut If you want to run this shortcut on Stream Deck without using the plugin, you can now right-click on the shortcut in the gallery and Add to select Dock. That turns the shortcut into an app - and places it in your dock. However, you can just drag it out of the dock and know that it will remain in your ~/Users/[your name]/Applications folder. Download the plugin Add the Shortcuts by Sentinelite plugin to your Stream Deck via the Store button of the Stream Deck app. Open Stream Deck Click on the Store icon in the top center (it looks like a color keyboard with a plus sign). In the Store, click the search box at the top left and type Shortcuts. From the results that appear, choose Productivity: Sentinelite Shortcuts and click Install Click Install again to confirm Close the store window Searching the Store may return different results, but this is the one you're looking for. The download may take a while, but now this plugin is installed in your Stream Deck and you can use it the same way you would use any of the built-in controls. Continue with Stream Deck There are reasons to make it a bit more complex, to add more options, but start with the simplest approach to get one button that turns on a HomeKit light, for example. an empty, unassigned button In the right column, click the search box Search for Shortcuts From the Shortcuts heading that appears, drag the item named Launch Shortcut onto the button. It will take a while, but the controls at the bottom of the screen will then fill in the Stream Deck screen with shortcut options. Give this button a title. Choose your new shortcut from the dropdown labeled "Shortcut." Normally you have to wait a short but noticeable amount of time before the Stream Deck button displays the shortcut buttons. That's because every time you do this, it reloads the list of all your shortcuts so you can choose from them. If you have hundreds or thousands of shortcuts, you need to count a few Mississippis. The plugin offers additional Shortcut and Stream Deck options, including having Siri read the Shortcut's name out loud. Moreover, there are other options that may be useful. This plugin allows you to reduce the wait time by choosing to display only a specific folder of shortcuts instead of displaying all shortcuts. For this you have to create a folder in the Shortcuts apps. There is also an accessibility option via the Sentinelite plugin. You can have your Mac speak the shortcut name out loud. Additionally, there is an option that determines whether the button on the Stream Deck displays the title or not. That option seems less useful because Stream Deck itself only allows you to have an untitled image, although Sentinelite's version is easier to find. A simple, but not very satisfying solution. The result of all this is that you have a Stream Deck button that you can press and, for example, your light turns on. But it doesn't turn off again if you press the same button. It seems like you have to do a new "off" shortcut and give it its own button, which just wastes space. Space is especially scarce on the smaller Stream Decks. But Stream Deck comes with an option called Multi Action Switch. In its simplest form, you can set up one button that performs one shortcut the first time you press it, and a different shortcut the next time. So you can duplicate your Office Light On shortcut, change it to turn off that light, and then put both shortcuts on the same Stream Deck button. Don't forget to give that Off Shortcut a distinctive name. In the Stream Deck app, search for "Multi" and then drag "Multi Action Switch" onto one of the buttons. Now on the screen that appears, search for Shortcuts and drag the Sentinelite plug-in to the main menu screen Set that to turn on your light Shortcut Now click on the top line where there is a “2” next to the words “Multi Action". Repeat dragging Shortcuts onto this main screen and set the Lights Off Shortcut. Click the back arrow icon next to the words 'Multi Action'. You now have one Stream Deck button that allows you to turn your light on or off. To make it clear what this does, you can drag an image onto the button in the Stream Deck app and that image will be displayed on the physical button. To create that image, you can use any image editor. Simply create an image no less than 72 pixels by 72 pixels square. Multi Action Switch allows you to have one button that performs two different shortcuts - like an on or off button. Create a more complex Stream Deck button. The way this is all done means the Stream Deck doesn't care if your light is on or off. it just sends the on or off command anyway. So it will not be reset if, for example, you choose to turn off your light via the Home app on your iPhone or via Siri. As a result, there will be times when, for example, the light is already on, and so when you press the button to turn it on, nothing happens. The Stream Deck briefly shows a green check mark on the button, but that's it. Then pressing it again will turn off the light. So every now and then there's a moment where you wonder what happened, but it always works. However, it could work better. Since this is really just running a shortcut, you can make that shortcut much more advanced. For example, you can have the Shortcut first check whether the…

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