One advantage is that the buttons can update to give you feedback. It is like an additional screen in that sense. When I’m on my work PC using my Stream Deck in my home office, I can glanc eat it to check the volume of my Amazon Echo which I play Spotify through (from my browser via Spotify Connect).
I find it akin to the touch bar when utilising Better Touch Tool with it. I tend to reproduce some of the functions I have on each as when my Macbook Pro is docked, it is much easier to read and access my Stream Deck than my touch bar.
I’m like Martin in that I tend to trigger scripts and more complex automations. Many are ones I use infrequently and are not assigned keyboard shortcuts because there are often similar ones and assigning shortcuts meaningfully and logically becomes impossible. Rather than increasing my cognitive load, or forcing myself to remember the name to trigger a Keyboard Maestro macro from Alfred (which I do for the least frequently used ones), I put them on the Stream Deck. I also mostly use text on a blank button for this. For many cases, the iconography suffers the same challenge as keyboard shortcut assignment.
My hierarchy is as follows:
- Frequent unambiguous use => keyboard shortcut.
- Infrequent use and/or ambiguous across several tools => Stream Deck.
- I make extensive use of profiles and folders in the Stream Deck on Mac and PC, which gives me a huge range of flexibility on how I divvy things up and arrange things on the deck.
- If I use it while away from my desk, I will replicate it to my touch bar too using Better Touch Tool.
- Rarely used will be triggered from a search.
- I mainly use Keyboard Maestro to organise and trigger my scripts and automations (but I do have Automator actions, Alfred workflows, etc.)
- I use Alfred mainly to search for and trigger rarely used Keyboard Maestro macros that need manually triggering, but I also default to browsing the sections and macro names in Keyboard Maestro itself when I can’t quickly find what I’m after in Alfred.
In addition to the above, there is a subset of automations that are built around Alfred Workflows. I never tie these to the Stream Deck, and these workflows do often call Keyboard Maestro macros. These are ones where I know I want to do things like pass in parameters to a script, which I can do in a single entry via Alfred.
If any of the above matches with your use, then that might help you see some opportunities where a Stream Deck could help. But a Stream Deck is not inexpensive, nor is it necessary. But I do believe that it can help you be more productive if you happen to have a grey area between keyboard shortcuts utilisation and searching.
Hope that helps.