Welcome to the wonderful and exciting world of streaming! In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about setting up OBS Studio to get a smooth, stable and stylish live stream to Twitch!

This guide is aimed at being the most complete, detailed and up-to-date tutorial in setting up OBS Studio for live streaming to Twitch. But you can easily use it if you are also looking to stream to YouTube, Mixer, Facebook or any other streaming service that OBS supports.

A couple of advisories before we start, firstly, this guide is aimed at users wanting to stream from their PC or Mac using OBS Studio. If you are looking for guides about streaming using a PS4 or Xbox One, please follow the appropriate link.

Secondly, this guide is long (really long) and will take some time for you to get through, but if you are serious about setting up your stream properly to give your audience the best possible viewing experience, it’s completely worth it. So without further ado, go grab yourself a cup of coffee/tea/lemonade and let’s get started!

Video Guide


As with all of our guides, below we have included a full video tutorial if that is your preferred method of learning.

OBS and its interface are set up to be new-streamer friendly, you’ve just got to know what you’re looking at.

Downloading and Launching OBS Studio


All big things start small, and your venture into Twitch streaming begins with a download of OBS, Open Broadcaster Software. Make sure you’re downloading for the right operating system, and rest easy knowing everything explained below will work across Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Once downloaded and installed, launch OBS and look upon the software that most Twitch streamers use to broadcast themselves to the world. While there is other broadcasting software out there (and some are very good!), OBS is a household name for the Twitch community and its streamers. With your OBS now open, let’s begin to explore why it’s so popular.

Hopefully, your screen looks something like the image below. Does this seem a little daunting? A little like diving into the deep end? Believe me, it’s not. OBS and its interface are set up to be new-streamer friendly, you’ve just got to know what you’re looking at.

OBS Studio Layout Basics


Preview

The large space that takes up most of OBS Studio’s interface is the Preview. This window is where you, the streamer, will see what’s being broadcast from your screen out into the Great Twitch Beyond.

Your first thought may be similar to mine the first time I opened OBS: Well, won’t I always just be broadcasting what my monitor is showing? Why do I need a Preview of what I’m already looking at?

Ahhhh, so young, so naive. At least, I was. No! As we explore OBS, you’ll come to find that what you see isn’t always exactly what your viewers see. You can add all kinds of graphics and customizations to your stream, it’s your blank canvas to be artistic on!

Scenes

The Scenes window is where you will build and manage those different screens (or, wait for it…scenes) that can be broadcast to your viewers.

Thinking of your favorite Twitch streamers, you may recall their Stream Starting Soon screen, or their Be Right Back screen for when they can no longer ignore the bathroom.

These are examples of different scenes that the streamer has set up in their broadcasting software. It’s here in Scenes that all those different screens live. Switching between these scenes changes what the viewers see on Twitch!

Sources

Every Scene in a movie needs actors, lighting, and props. It’s exactly the same in streaming. All of those live within Sources. This is where everything from your webcam to the game itself exists as a Source for carefree management. Think of a source as an individual element that makes up a scene. For example, your Game scene might contain the following sources

  1. Game capture
  2. Webcam
  3. Overlay
  4. Twitch chat
  5. Donation messages
  6. Now playing text

Other assets like Twitch stream overlays belong in this section as well. Keep Sources in mind when you’re ready to put a new coat of paint on your stream.

Don’t worry, we’ll be back later in the guide to add your first few Scenes and Sources once we are done getting familiar with OBS Studio.

Audio Mixer

The bottom-middle section of OBS is where you’ll find the audio mixer.

Not only does this mixer allow you to easily view your volume levels between mic and desktop audio, but it also lets you change these levels.

This is great for when your voice is being overpowered by some crazy cutscene that took your eardrums by storm. It happens to the best of us.

Scene Transitions

You’ll also see Scene Transitions. This is what you’ll use to customize the cosmetic effects that happen between scene swapping.

Effects like a sleek-looking fade, swipes or stingers from your game to your Be Right Back scene. You know, like Powerpoint, but less boring. Way less boring.

Controls

On the far right of OBS, you’ll find your streaming salvation. It’s the Big Red Button that you must press with great care…

Well, it’s not red, or that big, but you’ll find your Start Streaming button in the Controls area. This button will send you streaming live to the world of Twitch, but we’ve got some other things to take care of before that button will work. Hold tight.

Stream Performance Info

In the bottom right, you’ll see some stats about your stream. Stats include how long you’ve been streaming or recording, as well as your FPS and CPU usage.

When you are actually streaming, this will also show your current bitrate, an indication of your current connection to the Twitch server, as well as the number of frames that OBS has had to drop due to either an overworked CPU or an unstable connection.

OBS allows for you to create multiple Profiles, each with their own customizable options. This is great if you’re using Twitch for game streaming, podcasting, and maybe a creative stream every once in a while.

OBS Studio Profile and Scene Collections


In the title bar, found above the Preview window, you’ll notice some familiar sounding options.
Well, I hope they sound familiar. I can’t teach you about File or Edit without a few other rudimentary tutorials.

One of the more unfamiliar options will be Profile. OBS allows for you to create multiple Profiles, each with their own customizable options. This is great if you’re using Twitch for game streaming, podcasting, and maybe a creative stream every once in a while. These Profiles will allow you to customize and save the ideal settings for each of these types of Twitch streams.

As you’re just learning your newfound Twitch streaming trade, I’d suggest you just use the Profile you’re currently in. However, your default Profile is unnamed, and it’ll be a real shame if you leave it that way. Under Profile, use the Rename option to give your OBS Profile some individuality.

I recommend naming your Profile after your Channel name, as well as whatever streaming platform you use to stream. This way, if your, when your streaming presence grows and you do require multiple Profiles, you’ll never have any problems quickly deciding which is the Profile you should be using. I will rename my Profile to “GamingCareers – Twitch” which is my channel name, followed by the platform.

Back in the top toolbar, next to Profiles, you’ll see Scene Collections. Very similar to Profiles, creating Scene Collections will allow you to save different Scenes and Sources to be quickly swapped with one another. I’ll rename mine to “Games” since I also have Scene Collections for podcasts, interviews and recording my awesome YouTube tutorials!

OBS Studio Settings and the Auto-Configuration Wizard


If you’ll retrace your steps back to Controls, our next target will be near the bottom of the list. Settings are where you’ll find the brains of your OBS profile. Within this menu, you’ll find the most important configurations of your initial OBS setup.

Everything from your bitrate to your output resolution is within the various tabs of the Settings section. Tweaking these things to near-perfection can be the only teeth-grinding part of your initial OBS setup. But what if I were to tell you, you could close the Settings tab right now?

No, seriously, close it.

Thankfully, the team behind OBS realized the pain that could come with this sometimes-delicate configuration. To save your precious teeth, they created (note: use deep baritone voice) the AUTO-CONFIGURATION WIZARD.

Most of the heavy lifting for your stream configuration has been taken off your shoulders by this nifty tool. You’ll find it in the Tools tab of the top toolbar.

For those of you who like heavy lifting, or those that want to tweak and learn about every single option within OBS Studio, we’ll still be diving deep into the settings menu later in this guide. It’s usually not so necessary now that OBS comes with the Auto-Configuration Wizard, but I admire your desire to learn, and knowledge is power right?

Once you click on the Auto-Configuration Wizard within Tools, the first option to appear will be selecting whether you’d like to optimize your OBS Studio for streaming or recording. Since we’re going to be streaming, choose that as your priority.

After you click Next, you’ll be brought to your Video Settings. This section will allow you to choose your Canvas Resolution and the FPS at which you stream.

Resolution

Ideally, your Base (Canvas) Resolution should match up with your monitor’s resolution. However, there are times that you may need to adjust this. Especially if the game you’re going to stream to Twitch is being played at a different resolution than your monitor.

Set this to your monitor’s resolution for now, but keep in mind that this option may need tweaking based on what you play.

Framerate

FPS (Frames Per Second) has only a few select options, but each serves a purpose for your streaming content.

“Either 60 or 30, but prefer 60 when possible” is my suggested option for those Twitch streamers who like showing off their skills in first-person shooter games like Doom, Fortnite and Call of Duty or sports games like Rocket League.

Using little RC cars to knock balls into goals counts as a “sports game”, right?

Either 60 or 30, but prefer high resolution is a good choice for when you’re streaming a game that’s heavy on cinematics. Those single-player experiences where a prettier picture may be more important than FPS.

Of course, you could disagree. Now that you understand the options, choose accordingly!

Quick note: If you don’t see the option that prioritizes high resolution, it may be because the Wizard doesn’t estimate your computer and/or your connection to be suitable.

Onward, my friends! Next up is Stream Information. This section is going to actually connect us to Twitch (or any other streaming service you may use.)

Stream Information

The first option is Stream Type. This is where you’ll choose whether you’re going to be streaming through known streaming services or through something more customized. Without diving too much into this, choose Streaming Services from the drop-down menu.

Service is where you’ll choose which of the streaming services is the one you’re going to use. We’re headed to Twitch, so that’s the option to choose. Easy, yeah?

A Stream Key is your ticket to the big game. When you hit Start Streaming, it’s with this unique code that Twitch knows what account you’re streaming to. Click that link in the Wizard to grab your Stream Key. You must login to Twitch for this to work.

Otherwise, you can always find your Stream Key on your own. Head to Twitch, go to your Dashboard, then click on Channel in the Settings. Your Stream Key will be near the top.

Copy your Stream Key and paste it into the proper field in the Wizard. You, my dear streamer-to-be, are now linked between OBS and Twitch.

After you click Next, OBS will run a short test to see what your computer and connection can handle. A quick kick of the tires to make sure everything will work as intended when you begin to stream.

It’s very important that your Stream Key is both A) correctly connected to OBS and B) not shared with anybody else.

Apply Settings

It’s very important that your Stream Key is both A) correctly connected to OBS and B) not shared with anybody else.

If you don’t have your Stream Key correctly connected, then you’re not streaming on Twitch. If somebody else has your Stream Key, well, they probably are. As you. Just be aware.

After the test has completed, you’ll get an estimated configuration of ideal settings. Instead of having to tweak all these settings yourself, click Apply Settings and guess what? These settings will be applied!

Keep in mind, this is OBS’s estimated configuration, and sometimes an estimate is wrong. It’s highly likely that at some point you’ll need to jump into the Settings Menu to tweak things. For now, you should stick with your estimated configuration and get onto adding a Scene and some Sources.

Adding a Scene in OBS Studio


The first thing to think about is what scenes you might want for your stream. The standard 3 that I’d recommend setting up would be:

  1. Game Scene
  2. Intermission Scene
  3. Stream Starting Soon Scene

Let’s look at these in a little more detail.

Game Scene

This is probably the scene you are most familiar with. Most commonly it includes the game that the streamer is playing, their webcam and some overlays to make things look good. Below I have included some screenshots of example Game Scenes from some popular streamers.

Intermission Scene

The purpose of an intermission scene is to have somewhere to swap to when you are in-between games. Staring at a full-screen game when all it’s showing is a lobby or a “searching for game…” message isn’t the most visually appealing or interesting scene to be broadcasting to your audience. Instead, an intermission scene usually comprises of a smaller capture of your game or lobby (to show to your audience that you are still in queue) as well as maybe an enlarged webcam as well as a portion of your stream chat.

It might not seem like much, but having an alternative scene with more going on during the downtime in between games is a great way to keep your audience’s attention and prevent them from getting bored.

Stream Starting Soon Scene

Although some streamers like to just dive straight into the action, others prefer to bring their audience together in anticipation with a Stream Starting Soon Scene. This scene most commonly uses only a couple of sources: a background video and some countdown text.

The idea behind it is to create excitement in chat for when the countdown reaches zero and you finally swap to a different scene and un-mute your microphone. When done correctly, this can be a great way to have conversations happening between your viewers, before your ‘live‘ on your stream.

As you grow your stream, you’ll definitely want to add some more unique scenes to your production. For now, having an understanding of these 3 examples is enough for you to get creating your own.

Adding a Source in OBS Studio


Now that you’ve seen some examples of Scenes in OBS Studio, it’s time to make those scenes come to life by adding the Sources to each. Let’s set up your Game scene by adding the following 3 Sources:

  1. Game
  2. Webcam
  3. Overlay

First, come down to the Scenes section and either right-click to add a scene or click the little plus icon. Name it Game Scene and click OK.

Adding a Game Source to OBS

Next, let’s set up your game to be captured by OBS. The most important step that too many people forget is to launch your game first. You can’t add the game source without it running on your computer!

Once that’s done, move across to the Sources section and again either right-click and select Add or click the little plus icon. You’ll see a list of different sources you can add that should look similar to the image below.

There are a few different types of capture methods you can use to capture your game:

  1. Game Capture – Captures a specific DirectX/OpenGL game running.
  2. Window Capture – Captures a specific window running.
  3. Display Capture – Captures all applications on a display, mimics what you see on the monitor.

You should always try to use ‘Game Capture’ wherever you can. Without getting into too much technical detail, Game Capture is the most efficient way of capturing a game as long as DirectX or OpenGL (most games are). Window Capture is a less efficient version of Game Capture that you’ll use for capturing other windows should you wish to. Finally, Display Capture is the laziest and least desirable method, it will show you alt-tabbing and can give that horrible inception look if you display OBS whilst streaming.

Select Game Capture from the Add Source submenu and name it whatever you like. Next, you’ll need to configure which capture mode you want to use:

  • Any fullscreen application
  • A specific window
  • A foreground window with a hotkey

I’d recommend you to use Capture Specific Window which allows you to specify exactly the executable/window name of the application that you wish to capture. Look through the list of running processes on your computer and select the one which matches with your game. It’ll usually have the game name in the title.

You should be able to leave the rest of the options at their defaults, so hit OK to save your capture and be taken back to the OBS Studio Preview.

Hopefully, you should see your game captured and displayed in the preview (if so skip to the next paragraph). If not, don’t panic. You can go back into the game capture properties (by right-clicking the source and selecting properties) and see if enabling “Use anti-cheat compatibility hook” fixes it. If you’re still left with a blank black screen, you may have to resort to using window/display capture instead. I’d recommend googling: ‘game title + OBS Game Capture’ to see if anyone else has had issues. Or jump into the Gaming Careers Discord and ask in there, it’s fairly likely that someone else in the community has successfully captured the same game before.

Make sure that your game is displaying in full in OBS by right-clicking the game source, selecting Transform and then choosing Fit To Screen. Hopefully your game should now be taking up the full canvas of your Preview, looking something similar to the image below.

Adding a Webcam to OBS

Next, let’s look at getting our webcam added above our game source. Webcams and cameras are treated as Video Capture Devices in OBS. Head back down to the sources window and add a Video Capture Device by either right-clicking or clicking the plus. Name it “Webcam” or whatever you’d like to call it and click OK.

From the Device drop-down, find the name of your webcam or camera. Once selected, you should hopefully see the preview update with your webcam’s output. Most of the options are fine left at their defaults but one that you may want to consider changing is your webcam’s resolution.

If your webcam is capable of outputting at 4k or 1080p, ask yourself whether that resolution is necessary for your stream design. If all you are doing is adding your webcam in a small box in the bottom or top corner, you probably don’t need it to be captured in 1080p. Webcam capture is a known resource hog in OBS and if you can lower your captured resolution to 720p or 480p you should see a decent improvement in both CPU usage and dropped frames. That being said, if you want a scene with your webcam in full screen at 1080p, feel free to do so.

Make sure that your webcam source is above your game source within the OBS sources list.

Once your webcam is added, we want to resize and position it within our Game Scene. OBS allows you to drag and drop to reposition as well as resize from within the main preview. Make sure that your webcam source is above your game source within the OBS sources list. OBS works like most photo/video editing programs where you can arrange sources above one another to affect what is shown or hidden. You can reorder your sources by drag-and-dropping or using the up and down arrows in the sources window.

Adding an Overlay to OBS

Your stream preview should hopefully be starting to look a little more exciting. But to complete your basic setup we want to finally add an overlay. “What’s an overlay?” I hear you ask? An overlay is quite simply a graphic (or pack of graphics) that help add some flair to your stream. For this example, you will just be adding a simple graphic border to your webcam, but typically overlays contain a whole pack of graphical goodness.

There are countless places where you can download overlays in all kinds of styles and designs, both free and premium. For this example, I’d recommend just downloading a free one. Once you are comfortable with the process of adding an overlay to OBS, feel free to go nuts and find something that really fits your stream aesthetic. If you are really considering taking this whole streaming thing seriously then investing $15-25 on a fully integrated stream design is well worth it in my opinion. I personally have always used NerdOrDie, they have countless different packs from all sorts of designs and all of there stuff is really high quality. You can grab yourself a 10% discount at checkout by using code: GAMINGCAREERS.

For this example, I’ve just downloaded one of the NerdOrDie free overlays which I will show you how to add. Make sure you unzip the overlay files if they are compressed and locate the image/video file of the overlay you want to add.

Head down to the sources section of OBS and click to add either an Image Source (if your overlay is static) or a Media Source (if your overlay is animated). Name the source something obvious like Webcam Overlay and hit OK.

Next, you’ll want to browse to the location that you extracted your overlay, and select the right file. You should see your preview update with the overlay.

Next, you’ll want to resize your webcam and your overlay to make sure that they are similar sizes and that the border of your webcam is hidden by the overlay. Spend some time adjusting the sizes of both of these sources until they match up. If you need to crop your webcam at all so that it fits in the frame, you can hold down the ALT key on your keyboard, to crop any of the sides of your webcam.

Once you’re all aligned properly, you can group both the webcam and the overlay together by holding the SHIFT key and selecting both sources, then right click and select Group Selected Items. Name the group if you wish to. Now you can position and scale your webcam and overlay together and they should never lose proportion with each other!

Go Live and Stream to Twitch!


That concludes our 2018 Ultimate Guide to Streaming to Twitch Using OBS Studio! Take a breath because I know we covered a lot. But hey, if you kept up, you should be ready to stream on Twitch as you read these very words!

So what are you waiting for? Hit the Start Streaming button!

There’s plenty more to learn about OBS Studio. I’m on a quest to try to learn everything there is to know about this awesome broadcasting software. Check out some of our other guides and videos on the more advanced parts of OBS Studio. Feel free to join our discord and post in the video-suggestions channel about another aspect of OBS Studio that you’d like me to dive into!