How to Stream on Twitch

Hi there!

Do you want to learn how to stream on Twitch, the biggest game streaming service out there? Whether you want to stream a bunch of gameplay to your friends or build up a large audience, setting up a stream is quite easy. I’ve compiled all the information you need right on this page.

Quick Note: If you’ve already decided on the game you want to stream on Twitch, do a quick check-up first. Some games have built-in Twitch support, which allows you use the game’s built in software to stream to Twitch.

Before we think about how to stream on Twitch, we should check if our machines are actually able to stream on Twitch. I’d recommend a quick check-up on your PC’s streaming capabilities. Twitch recommends fairly powerful harddrive for streaming.

Now, you absolutely don’t need the best of the best to be able to stream your games in an audience friendly way. Some of the biggest streamers today have been open about the early days of their streaming careers, noting that they started out on scrappy laptops with no considerable hardware what so ever.

Twitch recommends an Intel Core i5-4670 or AMD equivalent CPU, at least 8 GB of RAM, and Windows 7 or newer. If your stream isn’t performing smoothly, upgrading the CPU should be your first point of action, as well as checking up on ways to increase your RAM (which is cheaper in general).

Your Internet connection’s upload bandwidth is also a big part of your stream’s performance on Twitch. As a general rule of thumb; higher quality streams need more upload bandwidth. A minimum of 1MB upload speed will be more than enough while starting out.

You got all that? Cool, let’s get down to the business of how to stream on Twitch!

How to Stream on Twitch Step One: a Twitch.tv Stream Key

To start off, we are gonna need a Twitch.tv stream key. A stream key allows you to stream your gameplay directly to Twitch.tv. Twitch then rebroadcasts your stream to viewers, saving you that much needed upload bandwidth.

To start things off you’ll need to create a free Twitch account. You’ll use this account to log into Twitch and broadcast your streams (as well as many other cool things). Simply visit www.twitch.tv and create an account.

When you’ve successfully gone through the process of creating an account, log in and navigate to the top right corner and click your account name. Select “Dashboard” and click on the “Settings” tab.

This picture shows the stream key tab on Twitch - how to stream on twitch

Click “Stream Key” and then “Show Key” to unveil your own, private streaming key.

Quick Note Don’t share your Twitch.tv stream key with anyone else. This key quite literally is the key to your channel, which means that anyone with possession of this key can comprise the streams on your channel.

How to Stream on Twitch Step Two: Setting up OBS

We’ll be using OBS to stream our gameplay to Twitch. OBS, Open Broadcaster Software, is a free, open-source video recording and streaming application. OBS is able to record a screencast and save it to a local video file, but can also livestream to streaming websites, making it ideal for our purpose. It allows you to modify your stream in a hundred and one ways by supporting live video from a webcam, adding custom overlays and a boat full of visual elements.

OBS Studio is the software we are looking for. Download it right here, install it and fire it up.

Now, OBS can be a bit complicated at first sight, and offers many more features than we’ll be covering here. Don’t worry about this for now. After you have set it up correctly, ran a few test streams and know your way around, additional features will feel way more intuitive.

OBS organizes your screencast into “scenes” and “sources”. The scene is the final version of your stream and shows what your viewers see. The sources are different parts that essentially form this scene. You can have different scenes depending on the stream you want to broadcast. One scene that displays the contents of your gameplay, another one with the gameplay and a webcam feed, and different scenes for every game you play.

For now though, we’ll be using the default scene (the one that’s already there) to set up our stream.

Open Broadcast Software OBS Default Screen - how to stream on twitch

Add a Game Capture Source

The first thing you’ll need to do is add a game capture source to your scene. To do this, right-click in the Sources box and select Add > Game Capture.

Select “Create New” and type whatever you want to call it. I tend to keep the original “Game Capture”, in order to have clarity in my Sources box.

This picture shows the create new screen of the game capture tab, how to stream on twitch

Under “Mode” you have to choose between capturing any fullscreen application or a specific window. I prefer to capture a specific window, in order to easily navigate through different applications while streaming (Chatbox & Dashboard). I advise you to do the same!

Select “Capture specific window” and make sure the game you want to stream is running. It won’t appear in the selection tab otherwise. In the picture below, I’m looking to set up my OBS to stream League of Legends. I have the game running, and I’m thus able to select it from the “specific window” menu.

This picture shows the Game Capture Source

Now, some games have multiple screens you want to capture. League of Legends, for example, consists of a base client, a loading screen and the actual game. Right now we have set up our Game Capture Source to capture just the game itself, which means the two other screens won’t be visible to your viewers.

Add a Display Capture Source

Game Capture mode doesn’t work with every game, unfortunately. League of Legends is an example of a game that needs more Capture sources to stream the complete game experience to your viewers. Other games simply don’t mash with the Game Capture option.

If you can’t get OBS to record a specific game, try “Display Capture” instead. Make sure your existing “Game Capture” is either deleted or inactive (by pressing the small eye in the Sources box) and right-click in the Sources box and select “Display Capture”. This captures your entire display, including your desktop and any open windows, and streams it to Twitch.

This picture shows the Display Capture Source

Choose the display you want to add. There will only be a single display if you have a a single monitor computer. Press “OK” when you’re done!

You’ll see a preview of your desktop in the main OBS window. This is exactly what your viewers will get to see as well. You can now fire up the game you want to play and see how it turns out on stream.

Audio Broadcast

By default, OBS captures and streams your desktop audio- meaning: everything playing on your PC. This includes game sounds as well as input from your microphone.

To change these settings, use the “Mixer” box, next to the Sources box. You can adjust the volume of both your microphone as well as the desktop sound by sliding the box, or mute one using the speaker icon. To choose an audio device, click the gear icon next to the speaker and select “Properties”.

This picture shows the audio panel in OBS

Add Video From Your Webcam

Including a small video of your webcam during your streams is a great way to boost interaction with your viewers. The people watching your stream get to see your face while you are playing, which adds a certain value of authenticity to your stream.

To add a webcam feed to your stream, we are gonna add another Source. Right-click inside the Sources box and click Add, and then Video Capture Device.

This picture shows the add video capture device option in OBS

OBS should automatically find your webcam, if you have one. Select the device you want to use, and press “OK”, the default settings should work just fine here.

Your webcam video will appear in the stream preview box. Use your mouse to rescale and drag the video to where you want it. Make sure that it fits with the game you are streaming. You don’t want to overlap key aspects of the game with your webcam video.

If you don’t see your webcam video, make sure the Video Capture Device appears above your main game or display capture source in the Sources box. Sources that are on top of another in the list are on top of each other in the stream. Drag and drop to rearrange the list.

This picture shows the Sources box in OBS

How to Stream on Twitch Step Three: Set Up Twitch Streaming

Once you’ve set up your stream the way you want, you need to connect OBS to your Twitch channel. Click the “Settings” button an the bottom right corner of the OBS screen.

You can leave the “General” tab the way it is, unless you want to change the language OBS presents itself in.

In the “Stream” tab, select “Streaming Services” as your stream type. We are learning how to stream on Twitch, so set your “Service” to Twitch. Copy and paste your Stream Key we found earlier in the “Stream key” box. Make sure you select the servers closest your location, and click “OK” to save your changes.

This picture shows the "stream" tab in OBS settings

You can adjust and tweak your stream settings from this settings window as well. Select the “Output” icon and use the options under “Streaming” to adjust your bitrate and encoder. You’ll probably want to start streaming with the default settings first, to check out how everything runs, and make adjustments later.

If it’s not smooth, try lowering the bitrate. The optimal setting depends on your computer and internet connection. Streaming, swapping some settings around and testing again is the only way to go here.

This picture shows the "output" screen in OBS settings

You can tinker around a bit with the remaining tabs. Take a look at your audio settings and set up a few hotkeys if you like.

How to Stream on Twitch Step Four: Start Streaming!

Now that your OBS is set up and connected to your Twitch account, all you need to do is click the “Start Streaming” button at the right corner of the OBS window to fire up your stream.

While streaming, I recommend you open up the Twitch.TV dashboard as well. There you can see a little preview of your stream, provide a title and specify which game you are playing.

To share your stream with others, direct them to the channel page. It’s twitch.tv/user , user being your Twitch username.