Whether you’re interested in creating a fun tutorial for people to try at home, streaming your favorite games, or even sharing your best jokes with a live audience, there’s a lot to love about creating content on YouTube.
When you want to directly interact with your audience in real time, you can always set up a livestream, and the Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) tool is usually the best way to make it happen.
Get your YouTube stream key
Step 1: Create a YouTube account if you haven’t already. Check out our step-by-step guide (listed above) on how to do so.
Step 2: You can’t livestream on YouTube until you verify the account with a linked mobile number. Head to the verification page, log in to your account, and follow the on-screen instructions.
Step 3: Once verified, head to the YouTube Studio dashboard. Next, click the red camera Create icon located in the top right corner. After that, click Go Live in the small drop-down menu, as shown above.
Step 4: On the following screen, select the Stream tab from the left side of the screen. A form appears to enter the stream’s name and set its privacy mode, description, and category. Be sure to select an age limit (if any), and then click Create Stream to continue.
Step 5: With your stream created, a control panel will provide a preview window and tabs for stream settings, analytics, and stream health.
The Stream Settings tab is open by default. Look directly under the label to find the stream key you need for OBS. Click Copy to send the 16-character string to the clipboard. You can also click the Reveal eyeball button to expose the string for 10 seconds and enter them manually in OBS.
Whatever you do, keep this number secret. You don’t want anyone else to have it since they could stream on your account without your permission.
Link OBS to YouTube
Step 1: Download OBS from the official website and install it as you would any other program. Run it as an administrator, and head into the Settings panel using the relevant button located in the bottom right corner.
Step 2: On the following pop-up screen, use the Video and Output tabs to select your chosen frame rates, resolution, and bit rate — they control your audio quality. To see the ideal settings for YouTube, check out Google’s relevant support page.
Step 3: Go to the Stream tab using the left-hand menu and select YouTube/YouTube Gaming from the Service drop-down menu.
Step 4: In the Stream Key field, type or paste your YouTube stream key. That links OBS with YouTube so the software streams straight to your channel.
Step 5: Click Audio on the left-hand menu. Each device on that page represents one potential audio source in your livestream. If you want viewers to hear in-game or desktop audio, set one of the Desktop Audio settings to your system’s audio output. If you want your viewers to hear you, select your microphone from the drop-down next to Mix/Auxiliary Audio.
Step 6: Exit the settings panel by clicking Apply > OK.
Step 7: In the main window, click the Plus icon under the Sources heading toward the bottom. If you want to stream game footage, click Game Capture listed on the pop-up menu.
You have a few different options for capturing your footage. You can capture any full-screen application, a specific window, or a foreground window. You can also force scaling, capture third-party overlays, and more. Click OK to complete.
Want to add your headshot using an external camera? Click the Plus icon under Sources again, but this time, select Video Capture Device. Select your camera from the list of options under the Device drop-down and decide on its quality and FPS. When finished, click OK.
With all of the above settings in place and your YouTube channel configured to accept your stream, there’s only one thing to do: Start streaming! If you want to start right away, click the Start Streaming button located in the bottom right corner.
Now it’s time to start streaming. To begin, click the Go Live button in the top left corner of your YouTube dashboard. Once the OBS establishes the connection to YouTube, the broadcast will be visible in the preview pane. Keep in mind that there is a 20-second delay between your live stream and the public page where your viewers are watching.
Once you say goodbye to your viewers, you’ll need to end your broadcast. You can do this by selecting “Stop Streaming” in OBS.
You might encounter issues with your live stream due to problems with PC or Internet performance. With OBS, you can access a log to help solve the issue. You can find this log by clicking Help, then choosing Log Files from the drop-down menu. Then, from the following menu, select either Upload Current Log File or Upload Last Log File. You’ll see a new window giving you a URL for the uploaded log file. Make sure to copy the URL to your clipboard before clicking OK to finish.
The OBS Log Analyzer will use the log file you uploaded to diagnose whatever problems you’re having with your stream. Open the analyzer and paste the URL into the text field. After selecting the Analyze button, the Log Analyzer will look at the file and give you feedback on your performance issues and stream quality. For example, your stream might be low-quality due to your game’s FPS. Alternatively, your PC resolution may be set too high, which would overload the GPU.
We recommend the following resources to keep your stream looking crystal clear:
- General performance and encoding issues
- GPU overhead issues
- Stream buffering issues
- Dropped frames and general connection issues
- How to stream on an Xbox Series X
- How to upload a video to YouTube
- How to livestream on Nintendo Switch
- How to stream on Twitch from a PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, or Xbox One
- How to record your computer screen