If you watch streamers on Twitch you may have heard someone mention a program called OBS, or Open Broadcaster Software. This free, open-source program is the go-to choice for streaming content online. It brings every part of your stream together so you can control your mic, camera, streamed content, graphic effects, and settings from one place.
While programs like Twitch Studio simplify online streaming, many streamers praise the amount of control they get from OBS and urge newbies to learn the program. It may seem complicated at first, but OBS is an intuitive program overall. It’s also free and is supported by a motivated community, so why not take the time to learn?
How to Set Up OBS
First, you’ll need to download OBS. The program is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Once installed, the OBS auto-configuration wizard will open and help you customize the program to your needs. It scans your PC and makes any necessary adjustments to settings, though you can change all these settings after the fact if you don’t like the way they’re set up.
If you’re going to use OBS to stream through a live-streaming service, such as Twitch, you’ll also need to link your Stream Key. Each Twitch streamer has an individual Stream Key that authorizes OBS to stream via your account. To find your Stream Key, log in to your Twitch account and navigate to Account Settings > Channel and Videos > Stream.
Your key will be at the top of this screen. Copy your code and head back to OBS. Open File > Settings and click the streaming tab. Select your streaming service from the drop-down menu (we’re using Twitch here), click Use Stream Key, and paste in the code you copied.
Click Connect Account, sign in to your account, and authorize access. OBS should now be configured to stream on your Twitch account.
Customize the Stream
Now that your account is linked to OBS, you can start streaming. However, you should take a moment to acquaint yourself with the interface and controls. Along the bottom row, you’ll find several boxes that serve different purposes.
the scenes box will allow you to quickly swap between your source video and anything you may want to display to your audience (for example, an AFK screen or countdown timer until your stream starts). the Source section is where you can add various content sources, such as your gameplay or face cam. These sources are tied to whatever scene you’re currently in so they won’t affect anything else.
your Sound Mixer segment is where you can manage your audio for these various sources and any microphones you are using. the scene transition section is where you can add an effect when you transition between scenes. Under Controls is where you can start your stream, record video, access settings, and more.
Open the Docks menu to add more sections to the OBS display or remove the ones you don’t need. Some elements you might want to add include a Stream Chat box to review messages from your audience and a Stream Information box where you can add a title, bio, category, and any tags that might make your stream easier to find.
Click the Settings button in the bottom-right corner of the OBS window to access additional options so you can start using the program like a professional. For instance, you can click the Hotkeys tab to assign tasks to different keys on your keyboard. Things like stopping and starting the stream, your webcam, and transitions can all be set by clicking on their corresponding black bar and hitting the key you want to use.
There are countless things you can do on OBS to set yourself apart from other streamers using proprietary software. Luckily, the team on OBS has a resource forum where you can ask questions, support other streams, or even communicate with the OBS team if you have requests for new features.
Start Your Stream
When you are ready to start your stream, open the PC game you want to broadcast. You’ll want to make sure you’re streaming the correct program, so hit the plus (+) icon in the Sources section and select Game Capture.
Open the source you just added and use the drop-down menu to select Capture specific window, then choose your game from the list of open programs. Press okay and the preview window in the middle of the screen should display the game. You can then change the size of the game window.
Through a similar process, you can also add a webcam (Video Capture Device) and microphone (Audio Input Device). Just select the appropriate device to use and OBS will set it up. You can then adjust your video so it fits to your screen.
When you’re ready to go live, hit the Start Streaming button in the bottom-right corner of the program. You will then start streaming directly to your Twitch stream.