If you watch streamers on Twitch, you might have heard someone mention a program called OBS, or Open Broadcaster Software. This free and open source program is the go-to choice for streaming content online. It brings together every part of your stream 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 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 supported by a motivated community, so why not take the time to learn?
How to configure OBS
First, you will need to download OBS. The program is available for Windows, macOS and Linux. Once installed, the OBS Auto Setup Wizard will open and help you customize the program to your needs. It scans your PC and makes necessary adjustments to settings, although you can change all of these settings after the fact if you don’t like the way they are configured.
If you are going to use OBS to stream through a live streaming service, such as Twitch, you will also need to bind your stream key. Each Twitch streamer has an individual broadcast key that authorizes OBS to broadcast through your account. To find your stream key, log into your Twitch account and go to Account Settings > Channel & Videos > Streams.
Your key will be at the top of this screen. Copy your code and return to OBS. Open File > Settings and click on the Flow tongue. Select your streaming service from the drop-down menu (we’re using Twitch here), click Use stream key, and paste the code you copied.
Click on Connect account, sign in to your account and authorize access. OBS should now be configured to stream to your Twitch account.
Customize the feed
Now that your account is linked to OBS, you can start streaming. However, you should take a moment to familiarize yourself with the interface and the controls. Along the bottom row you will find several boxes that serve different purposes.
The Scenes box will allow you to quickly switch between your source video and anything else you might want to display to your audience (e.g. an AFK screen or a countdown until your stream starts). The Source is where you can add various content sources, such as your gameplay or your face camera. These sources are tied to the scene you’re currently in so they don’t affect anything else.
Your audio mixer The segment is where you can manage your audio for these different sources and all the microphones you use. The scene transition section is where you can add an effect as you move between scenes. Under control 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 things you might want to add include a streaming chat box to review your audience’s posts and a stream info box where you can add a title, bio, category, and any tags that might make your feed easier to find.
Click it Settings in the lower right corner of the OBS window to access additional options so you can start using the program like a pro. For example, you can click on the Keyboard Shortcuts 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 pressing 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. Fortunately, the OBS team has a resource forum where you can ask questions, support other streams, or even communicate with the OBS team if you have new feature requests.
Start your flow
When you’re ready to start streaming, open the PC game you want to stream. You’ll want to make sure you’re streaming the right program, so tap the plus (+) in the Sources section and select game capture.
Open the source you just added and use the drop-down menu to select Capture a specific window, then choose your game from the list of open programs. Hurry 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). Simply select the appropriate device to use and OBS will configure it. You can then adjust your video to fit your screen.
When you’re ready to go live, press the Start streaming button in the lower right corner of the program. You will then start streaming directly to your Twitch stream.