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Loupedeck Live Is a Productivity-Boosting Skeleton Key for Your Computer Programs

This gadget streamlines complex actions into single-button presses.

loupedeck in use
Tom Messina

The Takeaway: Think of Loupedeck Live as a multitool, one that not only allows for pages of quickly accessible shortcuts but even provides physical adjustment dials for fine adjustments. With it, you can easily program the device to open your browser to a specific website at a tap, set your most used Photoshop tools within easy reach, and quickly switch between instruments in music production suites to get more work done faster. You can customize each action button’s appearance, so it’s easy to stay organized and know what each press does. The deck is even smart enough to dynamically adjust layouts across open programs on its own, so your workspace keeps quick commands visible as they’re needed. Unlike its rivals, the Loupedeck Live features a customizable touchscreen interface that isn’t held back by a set number of physical keys. You can create a virtually infinite number of profiles and pages and navigate them by swiping. That’s in addition to physical knobs and rubber buttons. Think of Loupedeck as the skeleton key for unlocking all of your computing potential—automating your daily actions to save time across all kinds of software from Garageband to Excel.

Loupedeck Live Specs

  • 4-inch LCD touchscreen with 12 touch panels for actions
  • 6 physical dials with push buttons
  • 8 backlit rubber buttons (7 work profiles and a home key)
  • USB-C connectivity (with USB-A adapter in box)

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    What It Is

    Working across several computer applications can quickly get overwhelming. There’s multiple open programs, tabs, and hotkey shortcuts to juggle simultaneously. To streamline switching between your tasks, controlling settings, and selecting tools on the fly, you need a control deck. A control deck is a compact device made to condense complex multi-step actions to a single button press. Be it switching between video or audio sources in a livestream to putting a toolbar of editing suite actions at your fingertips, Loupedeck Live’s customizable touchscreen is well-suited for creating time-saving shortcuts.

    What Are Shortcuts And Why Do We Need Them?

    loupedeck being used
    Tom Messina
    loupedeck interface on screen
    Tom Messina

    I recently spent some time setting up my smart home’s shortcut routines (a series of actions kicked off by a single word or trigger), and that got me thinking. If I could automate multi-step work commands in the same way my smart hub knows to lock my door, turn on the lights, and change the temperature when I say “Alexa, I’m home,” it could dramatically boost my productivity. While there’s no magic command to streamline the entirety of my workflow, the Loupedeck Live automates the most taxing parts with shortcuts.

    Shortcuts automations come in two flavors—macros and hot keys. A macro is a chain of programmed actions. For example, I created a button on the Loupedeck Live that, once pressed, opens a recently captured screenshot inside of Photoshop. A hot key is a shortcut that triggers a single action—think CTRL+C for copying selected text, except with one button press. These bindings for fast actions aren’t revolutionary. In fact, keyboards and mice have had them for years. But to use them you have to remember what each button does and couldn’t get too far into the weeds of crafting incredibly complex recordings.

    Loupedeck Shows All of Your Shortcuts At A Glance

    using dials on the loupedeck
    Tom Messina

    With a Loupedeck Live, you can see buttons and feedback in real-time at a glance. Once you enter a program, the layout adapts. If you’ve used a MacBook with the smart Touch Bar, you know roughly how the Loupedeck works. So when I open a compatible program like Photoshop or After Effects, fast actions like content aware fill, opacity control, and layer merges show up as clickable buttons. Physical knobs take the setup a step further since you can fine-tune adjust levels in content like recorded audio or picture brightness.

    After opening the Loupedeck box, I simply plugged the USB-C to USB-C cable into one end of the 6 x 4.3-inch Live (roughly the size of a 15-inch laptop’s trackpad) and the other into my MSI Windows Gaming Laptop. If your computer is older and lacks USB-C connectivity, don’t fret—the package includes a USB-C to USB-A conversion adapter so it’ll work on the more common legacy port. Heading over to Loupedeck’s site provides you with a download for the program. I used Loupedeck across both MacOS and Windows machines over the course of a month. While both work flawlessly, it is important to note that livestreaming shortcuts on the Mac are a no-go in certain apps like the popular Streamlabs. Upon opening the software, you’re greeted by an easy setup wizard that walks you through how to tap the buttons, select from customized profiles for creative workflows or streams, and drag and drop commands to your deck. You can customize each button’s design and work across different pages for workflows. Immediately I created two workspaces—one for work and one for playing through my Steam game library. While I use a custom profile, the software includes native support for many popular apps in addition to pre-made builds for video editors, photographers, streamers, and musicians.

    Using Loupedeck Live

    overhead view of desk using loupedeck
    Tom Messina

    I created a standard everyday work profile, which consists of Chrome sites like Reddit, Google News, and Coda while also displaying media controls and program shortcuts at a tap. Even with my mess of windows and tabs, I could swap from typing in a word processor to editing photos incredibly easily. My most used macro button lets me run a Photoshop resizing action for images to fit into our publishing software with a click. What was once a frequent daily two- or three-minute task now takes me 30 seconds.

    Importing multiple pictures and launching into layer control is also much more streamlined. With Loupedeck, it’s easy to duplicate and mask using the touch shortcut, then control opacity levels using the physical knob to dial in changes. Jumping over to After Effects, the whole workspace shifted over to a cut and delete action. And when I needed to return to my basic MacOS default profile, the home key all the way to the left pulled up my everyday Chrome tabs and system settings. That meant I could edit a picture for an article and have it uploaded with less clicks and confusion across tabs.

    After a week, I found it a bit difficult to work without my Loupedeck, and once innate actions like manually resizing an image or typing in a website address felt dragged out and tiresome. After a month, I often find myself reaching for a phantom deck when I forget it at home. The convenience is unrivaled, especially in creative fields. But the beauty of the Loupedeck Live is that it isn’t locked to any one use or field. From plug-ins made by the community or experimenting with creating your own custom shortcuts, this is a universal tool for any work that involves a computer.

    Streaming video games with Loupedeck is even smoother. I can pull up different menus, map out special abilities, and launch into another window with a flick of my finger while playing. This is especially great for MMOs where you can place emotes and spells. And when I need to pull up a transition, cut my microphone, or add an animation overlay in real-time, I can do so without hesitation by switching over profiles. At its heart, the Loupedeck rivals the Stream Deck, in that it can make live streaming production easier with pre-keyed controls and transitions between scenes on the fly. But its does much more with its extra layers of workflow functionality that dynamically adjusts in real-time to the programs you have open.

    Live Control Deck

    • Limitless pages of space

    • Expensive

    The Loupedeck’s physical tactile buttons and dials are responsive and the haptic feedback for the touch sections adds a satisfying layer to operating the deck. My only true reservation is the cost—the LoupeDeck will run you $260, no small sum. For comparison, that’s double the price of the Steam Deck Mk2. If you need fine-tuned level control the knobs offer a leg up, and if you need more than a dozen or so buttons the ability to switch between pages of shortcuts is a boon that the more affordable Stream Deck lacks.

    If your workflow could benefit from over a dozen shortcuts, I can’t recommend this board enough. In just a bit under a month, it has become one of my essential everyday tools. But if you want to save some cash, the Stream Deck is easier to setup, its physical buttons do feel better, and the limited space actually works in its favor since you don’t have to switch between settings and profiles.

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