Throughout the past few years, Twitch has attracted over 9 million unique users, all the while hosting a wide range of live entertainment channels: from professional e-sports gameplay to casual cooking shows and living room DJ sets, as well as some questionable ASMR streams. The Amazon-owned streaming platform has become immensely popular and turned into more than just a website to stream video games.
If you want to start streaming, theoretically, all you need to do is a computer and a somewhat stable internet connection. The whole process itself is so simple that you could set everything up before you reach the end of this article. However, if you’re keen on putting together a more polished setup, you could accomplish this within the hour, whether that’s using your gaming PC, laptop, console, of even your mobile phone.
If you want to try your luck on Twitch or if you’re already sure that the journey to Internet stardom is something you definitely want to pursue, here’s everything you need to know about how to stream on Twitch.
How to stream on Twitch: Picking your software
Thanks to its ability to enable streaming from a variety of platforms, streaming on Twitch is actually a lot easier than you might think. But some of the most common places to stream Twitch from are gaming PCs as well as reasonably powerful gaming laptops. And to do so, you’re going to need the right software to get your stream up and running.
The two major choices are XSplit (opens in new tab), which is a Windows 10-centric tool, and Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), (opens in new tab) which is available on Mac, Linux and Windows. With an intuitive interface, XSplit is the easiest to use, though it does require you to pay for it. OBS is a great free alternative and is probably one of the most popular pieces of streaming software, but it will require you to roll your sleeves up and do a bit more initial setup.
There are also custom versions of OBS available, including Streamlabs OBS (opens in new tab) and StreamElements OBS.Live (opens in new tab). These programs sync up with Streamlabs and StreamElements respectively to let you easily set up custom layouts, alerts and more.
Those new to the world of steaming can take a look at Twitch Studio (opens in new tab), Twitch’s very own streaming app that’s designed with beginners in mind. This app is free and offers guided setup for the main devices in your streaming setup, such as webcam and game feed. It also offers customizable templates to get your streaming career started quickly.
How to use OBS
Configuring Your Stream
1. Open OBS.
2. Select Settings.
3. Select Stream.
4. Set Service to Twitch and click on Connect Account for the quickest setup.
5. Log in to Twitch with your username and password. You’re all set! (skip to Setting the scene and going live if you do this. If you prefer to use a stream key, follow Step 6.)
6. If you don’t want to connect your account directly, you can link Twitch to OBS via a stream key. To do this, return to your Twitch dashboard and select Stream Key. Follow the prompts to receive your special streaming code.
7. Copy and paste that code into the Stream Key box in the Broadcast Settings menu. Select ‘OK’.
Setting the scene and going live
1. On the main OBS interface, right-click the Sources box and select Add, then Game Capture.
2. Select your game of choice from the drop-down menu and click OK.
3. Right-click the Sources box again to add any additional feeds. You can add images and text to customize your layout, use Monitor Capture to show anything on your display or select Video Capture to use your webcam.
4. Select Preview Stream and Edit Scene to tweak your stream layout to your liking. For example, you might want to feature your gameplay stream prominently, with a small box in the corner that shows your webcam feed.
5. Select Start Streaming on the OBS dashboard. You’re now live!
How to use XSplit
Configuring Your Stream
1. Open XSplit.
2. Select Broadcast, then Add Channel, then Twitch.
3. Select Authorize and enter your Twitch username and password.
4. Select Finish. XSplit will automatically set an optimal resolution.
5. Edit your stream properties and click OK.
Setting the Scene and Going Live
1. On the Screen Sources section on the bottom left of the XSplit interface, select Add.
2. Hover over Game Capture and select your game of choice.
3. Select Add again to bring in any additional sources, such as images or your webcam feed.
4. Drag and resize each source to your liking. For example, you may want to feature your Game Capture feed prominently, with a small box in the corner that shows your webcam feed.
5. Select Broadcast, then Twitch. You’re now live!
Layouts, alerts and more
Once you have the basics of OBS and XSplit down, you can start customizing your stream with layouts and custom alerts. There’s a brace of popular toolsets for enhancing the look and feel of your stream are StreamLabs and StreamElements.
StreamElements is an all-in-one, browser-based tool that lets you design entire layouts (or pick from a variety of pre-made ones) complete with widgets, animations and more. Once you’ve created a theme, you can easily bring it to OBS or XSplit with a simple browser code.
StreamLabs offers a variety of customizable widgets, such as an Alert Box that shows on-screen notifications when viewers do things such as subscribe to your channel or make a donation. You can also use StreamLabs to set up Bots that help moderate your chat room.
How to stream to Twitch from PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S
If you have a PS4, PS5, Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S, you can broadcast directly from your console without having to worry about any external hardware or software.
To stream on Twitch via the PS4 or PS5, simply press your controller’s ‘Share’ button, select Broadcast Gameplay and choose Twitch. Once you’re logged in, you can go live with the push of a button.
Meanwhile, streaming on Twitch via the Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S is similarly simple, however, you will have to download the free Twitch app from the Xbox Store before you get started. Once you have the app and are logged in, fire up whichever game you want to stream. Then, open the Twitch app and select Broadcast from the main menu.
Both Sony and Microsoft also let you chat with your viewers straight from your headset, as well as stream your webcam via either the PlayStation Camera or Microsoft’s Kinect. You won’t get to customize the look and feel of your stream the way you can on a PC, but console streaming is a great way to test Twitch’s waters and start building your audience.