If you want to broadcast live video online, you’re very probably going to need a stream key. Each streaming destination, such as Twitch, YouTube or Facebook, provides you with a unique stream key so you can broadcast live video to your channel or profile.
Since finding and using a stream key is one of the most important parts of live streaming, we’ll explain what it is, how you can find it, and how to use it.
What is a stream key?
A stream key is a unique identifier for your stream. It tells the streaming software you’re using where to send your live video. You get a stream key from a streaming destination, such as Twitch or YouTube. Once you identify the stream key, you’ll copy and paste it into your streaming software, such as OBS Studio or Restream Studio. Then, when you hit “Go Live” your software knows where to send your stream.
When you want to broadcast live video on a platform like YouTube, Facebook or Twitch, you don’t always need the stream key. Some streaming software, like Restream Studio, can connect to the platform’s API. That means that all you have to do is give Restream access to your account on the streaming platform of your choice, and it will connect automatically.
Why do you need a stream key?
You need a stream key to let your streaming software know where to send your live video. Most streaming platforms — like Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc. — generate stream keys for when you want to go live. With a stream key, you ensure that your live video appears on your channel, profile or account with the platform you’ve chosen.
One very important thing to keep in mind concerning your stream key is that it is private. You should treat it like a password and not share it with anyone. If someone gets a hold of your stream key, they can start streaming live on your channel whenever they want.
Does the stream key change?
On most streaming platforms, the stream key does not change unless you generate a new one. If you change the password to your account on the streaming website, it might automatically create a new stream key for you for security reasons. Each time you go live, you shouldn’t need a new stream key, unless it has been reset.
If you need to change your stream key, you can usually do so by going into the settings of your streaming platform. Once you generate a new stream key, you’ll have to copy and paste it into your streaming software again.
Where to find a stream key
You can find the stream key for a streaming platform in your account settings, although it changes slightly for each platform. Check out our guides on how to find your stream key on all major streaming platforms:
Once you’ve found your stream key on your streaming platform of choice, you’ll have to copy and paste it into your streaming software, such as OBS Studio or Restream Studio.
How to use a stream key
Once you’ve found your stream key on your streaming destination (Twitch, YouTube, etc.), you have to paste it into your streaming software to get your live video to broadcast correctly. If you’re using Restream Studio as your streaming software, you can easily add it:
- After finding and copying your stream key on your destination platform, log in to your Restream account.
- Select Edit/Add Channel and select the icon for the channel you want to stream to. Note: Restream works with over 30 live streaming destinations, and you can multistream to several channels at once. But you have to add them to your Restream account one at a time.
- Paste your stream key and your channel URL (also called a server URL) into the appropriate fields. You can usually find your channel URL in the same spot that you find your stream key.
- Select Add Channel.
- Select Stream with Studio. Enter your name and give Restream access to your mic and camera. Select Enter Studio.
- Make sure the channel you want to stream to is toggled on and when you’re ready to start broadcasting, select the red Go Live button.
If you use OBS Studio to live stream, you can use the Restream plug-in for OBS to multistream to several channels at once. You’ll have to connect your Restream and OBS accounts:
- In Restream, select Connect to OBS, Zoom….
- You’ll see your RTMP URL and stream key displayed. Copy your stream key.
- Open OBS Studio and go to Settings.
- Select Stream from the left-hand menu.
- Select Restream.io from the pull-down menu at the top.
- Paste in your stream key. You may have to do the same for your RTMP URL.
For more help, read our full guide to finding your stream key in OBS.
How do I get my stream key?
To get your stream key, you’ll have to go to the settings on your live streaming platform. For some platforms, like YouTube, you have to create a new live video to get a stream key. Once you have the stream key, you can paste it into your streaming software.
What happens if someone sees my stream key?
If someone else sees your stream key and they’re not supposed to, they can copy it and use it to broadcast live videos on your channel. If you suspect that your stream key may no longer be private, you should generate a new one — and try not to let anyone else see it!
Why can't I find my stream key?
To find your stream key on Twitch, go to twitch.tv and sign into your account. Click on your profile photo and then select Settings. Then, select Channel and Videos. Then, from the left-hand side menu, select Stream. Your Primary Stream Key should be the first thing you see at the top of the page.
Now that you know all the basics about using a stream key, you can start broadcasting live videos. You’ll have to make sure the rest of your live streaming setup is ready to go, but that’s pretty straightforward too.
If you go live using Restream, you can have your broadcast up and running in a matter of minutes. Depending on which platform you stream to, you may not even need to get your stream key before you go live. Restream makes going live easy, even if you’ve never done it before.