Learn how to use OBS Studio step-by-step in this complete OBS Studio Tutorial for beginners!
Open Broadcaster Software (OBS Studio) is a powerful, free live streaming app (and screen recorder) compatible with all the major live stream platforms.
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It also works on Mac, PC and Linux and while it packs in a TON of great features, it can be a little intimidating for new users just starting out… But that’s where we come in!
We’ll run through a step-by-step OBS tutorial, covering everything you need to get up and running in OBS FAST.
Here’s exactly what we’ll cover:
- OBS Interface
- OBS Settings
- OBS Studio Scenes
- OBS Studio Effects
- OBS Studio Graphics
- Going Live In OBS Studio
We’ll be running through this process on a Mac but the process is exactly the same if you’re on a PC.
Let’s get started.
First up, let’s go through a quick explanation of the OBS Studio interface so you can get an idea of where everything is.
- Preview Area: The big black box in the middle is where you can view your live stream.
- Controls: The box in the bottom right is where you’ll find controls to start and stop your stream and recording. This is also where you can access Settings and Studio Mode (we’ll go into this in more detail later).
- CPU Usage: Below the Controls window you’ll see the CPU Usage information which tells you if your computer is under load and potentially dropping frames or having a bad live stream if your computer is under stress.
- Scene Transitions: Left of the Controls window is where you can adjust the different types of transitions you have between Scenes.
- Audio Mixer: In the middle below the Preview Area is the window that allows you to easily see and adjust your volume levels for each of the different elements or sources in your live stream.
- Sources: Left of the Audio Mixer you can add all of your webcams, images, videos, websites or any other sources into your live stream. Simply press the + button to see the different options.
- Scenes: In the bottom left corner is the Scenes panel. Scenes allow you to configure groups of assets or elements to use in your live stream (we’ll dive into Scenes shortly).
Now that you’ve got your head around the overall interface, let’s jump into the OBS Studio live streaming settings.
Go to Settings in the bottom right corner in the Controls panel.
It’s important to note that a lot of the settings in here will come down to personal preference and the types of live stream or recording you’ll be doing.
In the General settings you can adjust things like the language and theme.
Under the Output section you can also adjust these settings:
- Show confirmation dialogue when starting streams
- Show confirmation dialogue when stopping streams
- Show confirmation dialogue when stopping recording
- Automatically record when streaming
The top three will enable a confirmation box when you start and stop streaming or recording. This is really handy as it means you can’t accidentally end your stream or recording.
The fourth box ‘automatically record when streaming’ will come down to the types of streams you’re doing.
Personally, we keep all four of those boxes ticked.
We’d recommend having a scroll through these settings to see if there’s anything else that might add another level of customization to your workflow.
This is where you can select which service you want to stream to. The primary ones you can select from are:
- Facebook Live
- Show All…
If you select Show All… you’ll see a comprehensive list of all the supported live streaming platforms.
In this OBS tutorial, we’ll be creating a YouTube live stream. So you can see we’ve selected YouTube – RTMPS.
After you’ve selected your desired platform, hit Connect Account and follow any necessary further steps.
Under Output is where you can specify your output settings for your live streams and recordings.
Live Streaming Output Settings
The two main settings you’ll want to adjust here are the video bitrate and audio bitrate.
So when it comes to configuring your live stream, the default Video Bitrate is 4000 kilobits per second (kbps).
The higher this number is, the higher the video quality of your live stream. But your internet speed needs to be capable of consistently pushing that amount of data through your broadcasting platform.
PRO TIP: You can learn about YouTube’s suggested bitrates for different resolutions here. For example, if you want a 1080p live stream, YouTube suggests using 3,000 – 6,000 kbps.
You can also adjust the audio quality in the Audio Bitrate section.
We’d recommend always staying above 128 here.
The default is 160 which will give you pretty good results. If the only audio in your live stream is your voice – this will be fine.
If you require high quality audio such as for live streaming with music or using multiple audio tracks, you could set it anywhere from 192 right up to 320.
Recording Output Settings
The OBS Screen Recorder is another awesome tool that you might want to adjust the settings for. Go to the Recording settings – here we recommend checking the video recording quality and video recording format.
In a lot of cases, you’ll want to record in a higher quality video than what you’re live streaming.
So the default here is Same as stream but you might like to adjust that.
The options here are:
- Same as stream
- High Quality, Medium File Size
- Indistinguishable Quality, Large File Size
- Lossless Quality, Tremendously Large File Size
This will come down to your personal preferences, but we’d say it’s safe to go with High Quality in most instances.
If you’re after the best recording settings for OBS you could use Lossless Quality but keep in mind that this will be a huge file size!
Another thing you might want to adjust here is the Recording Format. The default is set to .mkv, so we’d recommend switching it to .mp4 which is a universally recognized format.
In the audio tab is where you can access all the necessary audio settings. Most of these will be fine to leave on the default settings, but there are a couple you might want to check out.
Under General you can adjust the Channels setting. We’d recommend setting this to Stereo unless you specifically need to be broadcasting in Mono or 5.1 for example.
In the Audio tab under Global Audio Devices, you can adjust the Mic/Auxiliary Audio setting. This is your primary audio source.
So change this from Default to whichever microphone you have connected.
Even if the default setting is using your correct microphone because of your System Settings, we still strongly recommend manually setting it here just so you don’t have any issues down the track.
This is where you can specify all of your video-related settings.
Base (Canvas) Resolution refers to the resolution of the live stream in OBS. The default here is 1920 x 1080.
Output (Scaled) Resolution refers to the resolution of the live stream that’s being broadcasted out to other platforms or even recorded. The default is 1280 x 720p.
So you can see that the frame rate in OBS Studio doesn’t need to be the same frame rate you’re pushing out.
We recommend switching the Output (Scaled) Resolution to 1920 x 1080 so that they are both set to high quality.
You can adjust the frame rate by adjusting the setting called Common FPS Values.
It defaults to 60 but we recommend setting it to 30.
Hotkeys are keyboard shortcuts you can set up to control OBS Studio.
Some functions you can assign hotkeys to include:
- Start streaming
- Stop streaming
- Pause recording
- Split recording file
- Start virtual camera
- Show source toolbar
- Many more!
This definitely isn’t necessary but it’s a great way to streamline your workflow so that you can control and configure everything really easily while you’re live streaming.
This is a newer feature in OBS that helps people who may have a disability or eyesight issues.
You can select colors throughout the interface to better suit your needs.
There are lots of advanced settings you can play around with in this section.
One that we highly recommend selecting is Automatically Reconnect.
This means if your internet connection drops out for any reason, OBS Studio will automatically attempt to reconnect and restart your stream.
Other than that, we’d recommend diving into this section to see if there are any other settings that might suit your workflow.
Now let’s dive into how you can use Scenes in your live streams.
How to Use OBS Studio Scenes
As we mentioned earlier, Scenes are a useful feature that allow you to configure groups of assets or elements to use in your live stream. After creating a Scene, you can add assets & elements in the Source panel that you want to be assigned to that Scene.
We’ll run through how to create scenes, how to add sources and some examples of different Scenes you might like to create.
How To Create Scenes In OBS Studio
In the Scenes panel you’ll see there’s a default scene already created called Scene. This is because there always has to be at least one Scene.
You can rename it by right clicking and going to Rename. It’s a good idea to name this something that clearly tells you what the Scene is e.g. Main Camera.
How To Add Sources In OBS
To adjust the source for the Scene, make sure the Scene is selected and press the + button in the Sources panel.
There are lots of different sources to choose from but say you wanted to add an extra video source, you would select Video Capture Device.
You can rename it, then you can select which video source you want to add by going to the Device drop down menu.
Under Preset you can choose from a range of options. We usually select High which is the highest quality option available (1920 x 1080p).
But as we mentioned, you’re not only limited to adding video sources. If you press the + button you could also select Image, for example. Then you can select an image from your computer, press Open and then Okay.
The image will appear full screen in your Preview Area. To turn that source on or off you can press the Eye icon beside that source.
Examples Of Scenes In OBS Studio
Now let’s run through some examples of the different Scenes you might want to create.
Creating A Presentation Scene
Let’s add a new Scene and call it Presentation.
With that Scene selected, go to the + button in the Source panel. We’re going to add three images to use as presentation slides. So we’ll select Image and upload those images to OBS one at a time.
PRO TIP: You can change the order of any Sources by clicking and dragging them.
Now at any time we click on the Presentation Scene to access those images/presentation. Or we can switch back to the main camera by clicking on the Main Camera Scene.
Creating A Screen Share Scene
Hit + in the Scene panel to create a new Scene. We’ll name it Screen Share.
Then press + in the Source panel and select Display Capture. You’ll need to give it a name and then you’ll be taken to a new window.
Under Display select the screen you want to share.
PRO TIP: If your screen share doesn’t fit the screen you can resize it by clicking and dragging the corners.
Creating A Picture-In-Picture Screen Share Scene
Follow the steps in the previous section to create a screen share scene or you can duplicate your existing screen share scene.
With that Scene selected, press the + button in the Source panel to add another source. Select Video Capture Device and under Device select the camera you want to use.
Hit OK and you’ll see a box with that camera source on your Preview Area. You can resize this box by dragging the corners and you can click & drag it to change the position.
Now that you’ve got a range of different Scenes, you can move between them quickly & easily just by clicking on your desired Scene in the Scenes panel.
OBS Studio Effects
There are ways to customize your video and audio even further.
Select your Scene and then select the video source you want to adjust in the Source panel.
Then hit the Filters button just below the Preview Area. A new window will appear.
The top option here says Audio/Video Filters but they’re mainly audio filters. If you press the + button you’ll see a range of options such as:
- Noise Suppression
- Video Delay (this one is really useful if your video & audio are out of sync)
Below that you’ll see Effect Filters. Press the + button and you can customize a number of things including:
- Chroma Key (if you’re filming on a green screen)
- Color Correction
- Luma Key
Let’s take a look at what you can do with the Color Correction filter. Hit Color Correction and you’ll need to give the filter a name (it’s fine to leave this as Color Correction).
Here you can adjust things like the contrast, brightness, saturation, hue and opacity.
How To Crop Video Sources
Another tool you can access in the Filters section is Crop. Let’s say you wanted to crop the picture-in-picture that you added to your screen share earlier.
Select the relevant Scene and Source, then hit Filters. Under Effect Filters go to Crop/Pad and hit OK.
Then you can adjust the setting for Left, Right, Top and Bottom until you reach your optimal crop.
OBS Studio Graphics
There are a number of elements you can add to your live stream to make it more engaging and professional.
How To Add Text In OBS Studio
To add text to your live stream, select the Scene that you want to add text to and then press the + button in the Sources section.
Select Text, give the Source a name and hit OK.
Then type in the text you want to appear on screen. You can adjust the font and if you scroll down you’ll see some more settings such as:
- Drop shadow
- Text width
Once you’ve made those customizations, hit OK.
How To Add A Logo In OBS
Let’s say you’d like to add your logo alongside the text in your live stream. Hit the + button in the Sources panel and go to Image. Again, give it a name and then select the image you want to add.
You can scale the image by dragging the corners and you can move it around by clicking & dragging.
Don’t forget you can turn off any sources by clicking the Eye icon.
Going Live In OBS Studio
Now that you’ve got everything set up, it’s time to go live!
In the Controls panel in the bottom right corner, select the Start Streaming button.
A pop up box will appear that says: You need to set up a broadcast before you can start streaming.
Click the Manage Broadcast button and go to Select Existing Broadcast in the top menu.
Since we previously connected our YouTube channel, it’s all ready to go. You just need to click the broadcast and press Select broadcast and start streaming.
And now you’re live! In the bottom right corner you can see how long you’ve been live streaming for, the CPU usage and how much data you’re using.
Now if you open your YouTube Studio, this is where you’ll be able to view and respond to any comments.
Going Live With Studio Mode
As we mentioned earlier, you can also live stream in Studio Mode with OBS. This is a more advanced feature, so those live streaming pros out there might like to try this feature.
To do this, click Studio Mode in the Controls panel. You’ll then have a second window next to the Preview Area.
If you click a Scene, it will appear in the left window but won’t be visible to your viewers (essentially queuing it up). When you’re ready to bring that Scene on screen, press Transition and then your viewers will be able to see it.
To disable Studio Mode at any time, just click the Studio Mode button again in the Controls panel.
Now you know exactly how to live stream with OBS Studio.
If you want to see how OBS Studio compares to the other options out there, check out our complete roundup of the Best Live Streaming Software For Mac.
How do I use OBS step by step?
You can follow along to the step by step tutorial above to learn how to live stream with OBS.
How do I record my screen with OBS Studio?
To record your screen using OBS Studio, simply press the Start Recording button in the Controls panel.
Check out an up-to-date list of all the gear, software & tools we use and recommend right now at Primal Video on our resources page here!