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How to: Start streaming on Twitch using OBS

In this article, I will do my best to explain how to get started streaming using OBS.

So, you’ve been watching some of your favourite content creators and thought you might give it a go and start streaming yourself. Well, we’ve written this article based on trying to talk a complete beginner through the process, so hopefully we’ll be able to help any and all new streamers get their set-up sorted!

There are many different programs you can use for streaming; OBS, Streamlabs, Xsplit, etc.

In this article we’ll be focusing on how to set up and use OBS, but in other articles we will explain and teach you how to use the alternatives.

Step 1 – Downloading OBS

Head to https://obsproject.com/ and download the installer for whatever operating system you use.

Get it installed.

You should be greeted with this view when you first open it. This is good.

Step 2 – Linking your Twitch account to OBS Studio

There are two options here. I will take you through the Stream Key route first.

Go to your Twitch dashboard. Under settings there is a tab called Stream. Under this, there will be a “Primary Stream Key”. This is how OBS will know who you are, and whose channel to stream content to.

Copy the Stream Key and go back to OBS.

In OBS, go to file/settings. A dialog box will open.

Paste the Stream Key you just copied from Twitch into the box after clicking “Use Stream Key”.

Click Connect Account.

A new box will open, prompting you to log into your Twitch. Do so.

The second route of connecting:

Head to this screen here by going to file/settings in OBS, as we did before. You can click the “Connect Account” button here.

Log in with your Twitch credentials (Twitch might send you a confirmation email with a code in to verify you are who you say you are.)

Your Twitch account should now be paired with OBS! One step down!

Step 3 – Setting up media sources

The OBS workspace should be completely black, void of anything. This is good, and nothing to worry about. We’re going to fill it with stuff. You can add a variety of media sources, games, videos, screen captures, overlays for follow alerts, webcam feeds, you name it.

Each one of these sources is added as a separate layer so that items can be layered. It’s why webcam feeds are often seen with a stylistic surround. It makes the edge of the webcam feed less harsh, and much nicer to look at. The webcam feed itself is on top of the game footage, but beneath the surround.

There are near-infinite possibilities and ways to set up your stream, and it’s entirely up to you how you want it to look. There are loads of places online you can find stream overlays, or if you would rather, you can make them yourself. There’s no requirement either way. I’ll talk you through a few basics that will make your stream look a little nicer.

Add a Background Image or Graphic

When you change whatever it is you’re streaming (Say for example, you change games), you don’t necessarily want the viewers to see just a black screen. What you can do is have an image or a gif that sits underneath everything, so that viewers see that instead.

  1. Right-click the workspace and select Add, and then Image.
  2. Name your image layer something so you can remember what it is. In this instance, “Background” would be a good idea. Whenever you add a new layer, it’s a very good idea to name it something identifiable, so you don’t end up confused down the line when you fiddle about with things.
  3. Find where the image is stored on your computer in the file browser, and select it.
  4. Your image should now appear in the workspace. If it’s not the right size, it can be resized, but for something like this I would recommend having a larger image, rather than resizing it down the line.
  5. Once you’re happy with it’s placement and how it looks, have a look at the “Sources” box at the bottom of the screen and make sure that the background image layer we’ve just created is always at the bottom. That way it will be covered by any other layer we add. This layer is just to make sure you’re never just streaming a black screen.

Additional images can be added by just running through this again and again, should that be wanted.

Step 4 – Game capture

In the Source box (bottom left), there is a plus icon. Click this, and you’ll see all the different sources you can add. From here, it’s fairly self explanatory to add each source, but always remember to keep in mind the ordering of the different layers. If the ordering isn’t correct, things might not look quite right.

If you plan on streaming from a console, it’s a little different, but not too difficult. You’ll need a capture card in your PC first and foremost. Then, it’s a simple matter of plugging the console’s HDMI cable in, and rather than selecting “Game Capture” above, you select “Video Capture Device”. From there, it should all be self explanatory.

Make sure that whenever you add a new source, regardless of what it is, you make sure to name it something identifiable. It makes life SO much easier.

Step 5 – Alerts and notifications

Alerts are special notifications that can appear as an audio alert, a video alert, or both. You will have seen them before when people follow or subscribe. That little pop-up on the screen that appears is an alert. They work differently to the parts of the stream above as they are powered by third-party services, and have to be paired with your OBS account too. There are multiple different services that offer Stream Alerts, but in this article I will be specifically explaining how to set up StreamElements alerts.

  1. Head over to https://streamelements.com/
  2. Log in with your Twitch and authorise StreamElements.
  3. Head over to Streaming tools/My overlays. You’re going to want to create a new overlay, so you’ve got a new clean canvas to start with.

Once you’re looking at the blank workspace, click the blue circle with the plus in to open up the various widgets and doo-hickeys you can add to your stream. We want to add an Alert box.

Once you’ve added the alert box, you’ll see a blue outline in the workspace. This is good, this is what we want. On the left hand side of the screen, you’ll also see a bunch of alert names with a checkbox by them. You can uncheck items if you don’t want alerts to appear for them, and you can click the cog on the right to customise them further.

StreamElements comes with loads of customisation options including that wonderful thing Text-to-Speech, in which a lovely robot voice will speak aloud whatever it’s been told to say.

Once you’re done customising your overlay, click “Save” in the top right corner, and copy the URL by clicking the attachment icon. (The one next to preview)

Now you’re going to head back over to OBS and we’re going to add a new source with the type ‘Browser’. This just means that the source is going to be a web address. The same web address we just copied, funnily enough.

Give the source a name, like “Alerts overlay” or something to that effect. Something to remind you what it is, later down the line once you’ve forgotten.

Then, paste the URL in when prompted.

That’s it! The alerts should now sound according to how you set them up on StreamElements. You can test them on StreamElements by clicking “Emulate” when looking at the overlay workspace. It’ll give you the option to “preview live on stream” which means it’ll play through OBS too. Generally having a follow, subscriber, and a raid/host alert is a good idea if you want to provide something for your viewers to see when those events happen. The other alert options available are best to leave for the time being, and re-visit when necessary.

Step 6 – Go live!

With everything in place, it’s definitely worth testing everything you’ve set up. Be brave and hit that “Go live” button in the bottom right, wait for the connection to establish, and that’s it! You’re live!

It’s always worth making sure everything hits that nice equilibrium where neither the microphone volumes or game volume sound too loud. You don’t necessarily want to be booming over the game, but equally, you don’t want to be completely drowned out by it either.

Ask a friend to drop in and let you know how things sound, about how things look. There are many settings you’ll be able to tweak and adjust to get things just right.

If you have any queries or questions comment them down below and I’ll be sure to answer them to the best of my ability. Good luck, and happy streaming!

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