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What is OBS?

OBS (also known as Open Broadcaster Software or OBS Studio) is an open-source software used for live video broadcasting and video recording. It’s widely used by live streamers because it’s free, can handle a wide range of tasks, and produces high-quality broadcasts. 

OBS Studio main features

OBS Studio is primarily used for:

  • Capturing gameplay
  • Capturing video and audio from a webcam and microphone
  • Screen recording
  • Broadcasting video and audio to online streaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube

It has several other features that let you customize your stream. Since OBS is open-source, there are many plug-ins you can add to it to help you get a personalized live streaming experience.

How to use OBS Studio

If you’re using OBS Studio for the first time, follow these steps to start broadcasting your first live video.

1. Download and install

To get started with OBS Studio, download and install it. Once it’s installed, the auto-configuration wizard will ask for permission to run. If you want to start live streaming as soon as possible and aren’t sure what the best settings are, let the auto-configuration wizard do its thing. It’ll test for the best settings and choose those for you. You can always change these settings later.

2. Create a scene

OBS Studio uses scenes, which are a combination of video and audio layers (known as sources). If you want to create a broadcast that combines video input for your webcam, audio input from your mic, and video input from your computer screen, you’ll have to add each one as a source in OBS.

3. Add sources

The video sources you can choose from in OBS Studio are:

  • Game capture
  • Window (for non-game applications)
  • Video capture device (webcam)
  • Browser
  • Display capture (make your monitor a source)
  • Image
  • Media (pre-recorded videos or audio)
  • Text (for captions, etc.)

Placing one source above another in the source list at the bottom of the OBS dashboard will layer them on top of each other on your scene. For example, if you want your webcam video to sit on top of your gameplay, you would place Video Capture Device source above Game Capture in the source list.

4. Add filters and effects

To add a filter or special effect to your source, right-click on it and choose Filters. You can also resize and arrange your sources by dragging them around the canvas and using Ctrl + Alt + Shift to drag and resize.

5. Change scenes

Easily change between scenes during your live broadcast by using Studio Mode in OBS Studio. When Studio Mode is on, you’ll see what’s actually live on the right side of your screen. On the left, you can edit your scene, choose transitions or change to another scene.

6. Start streaming in OBS

To start a new broadcast using OBS Studio, you need to choose one platform to stream to. OBS natively integrates with several popular live streaming services, like Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and more. If you want to live stream on Twitch, go to Settings and then select the Stream tab. From the drop-down menu at the top, select Twitch. Sign in with your Twitch credentials and click Save. You can alternatively paste in your Twitch stream key if you don’t want to give your account username and password.

7. Multistream with OBS

If you want to go live on multiple platforms simultaneously, you’ll need another software besides OBS Studio. With Restream, you can choose from over 30 streaming platforms to broadcast to simultaneously. Simply create a Restream account, add your channels to Restream, then connect Restream and OBS Studio. When you start streaming from OBS, your broadcast will go to all your selected channels.

For more details on setting up OBS Studio for the first time, read our OBS Studio how-to guide. You can also check out more of our tutorials on how to stream with OBS on our OBS Studio integration page.

Is OBS free or paid?

OBS Studio is 100% free. You can download it from the OBS Studio website and install it on your computer without paying anything. It works with PC, Mac and Linux. OBS Studio has always been free and the developers will most likely keep it free.

Is OBS Studio legal?

Yes, OBS Studio is completely legal to use. The software is developed by volunteers who contribute to it in their free time. It’s distributed under a GPLv2 license. As long as you download OBS Studio from the official OBS Studio website, you won’t have to worry about whether it’s legal or not.

Is OBS safe for recording?

OBS Studio is safe to use for broadcasting and recording video. It’s an open-source software, so users and developers are constantly checking the software’s code for bugs and security issues. Since it’s so widely used, most of those issues end up getting resolved pretty quickly once they’re identified.

Make sure you download OBS Studio from a reputable source — directly from the OBS Studio website. If you download it from somewhere else, you run the risk of it not being safe to use.