Streamlabs OBS Basics


Streamlabs Open Broadcaster Software (Streamlabs OBS) is a free program that integrates Streamlabs services directly inside a well established broadcasting application. If you’re looking for a broadcast solution that ties in a number of useful tools from Streamlabs, this a great option.

This guide walks through the basics of set up so you’ll be streaming in minutes. We’ll break it down by elements you’ll work with the most and add notes on what’s possible. Finally, we’ll cover going live and tips on how to use Streamlabs OBS while broadcasting.

Note: This guide was written while using Streamlabs OBS Version 0.21.2.

Download, Install, and Launch

  1. Visit the Streamlabs website here.
  2. Click Download to get the installation file.
  3. Run the installation.
  4. Launch it!

Logging In

Streamlabs OBS has you log in with the streaming service you’d like to use. Choose from Twitch, YouTube, Mixer, and Facebook. Start by choosing the platform you wish to stream on and log in with your username and password.

This guide is written using Twitch as an example.

Import or Start Fresh?

If you’re coming from OBS, you have the option to Import your settings, scenes, and output configurations in one easy click. Otherwise, select Start Fresh to get only the freshest of setups.

Mic and Webcam Set up

Streamlabs OBS asks you to confirm your webcam and microphone. If you have multiple devices of each type, make your selections from the respective dropdown menus and click Continue.


After confirming your webcam and microphone settings, Streamlabs OBS offers to analyze your internet speed and hardware setup to help you find the best settings. Click Start to begin optimization.


Next, you’ll be asked to enable “Multistream”. This feature allows you to stream to multiple platforms at once.

Streamlabs OBS recommends enabling multistream, but let’s skip this for now so we can focus on set up for one platform.

The Editor Screen

When you open Streamlabs OBS, the default view shows The Editor screen. You’ll spend most of your time here and find the following features:

  • Editor Display – This is where you can move where your webcam appears on stream, resize things and generally organize how things on your stream look.
  • Source Selector – This is where you choose what applications or media on your PC you want to stream. (Games, Pictures, Audio…)
  • Scene Selector – If you want multiple layouts, where your webcam might appear in a different location or a different size, or a static picture letting your viewers know you’ll “be right back”, this is where you save and select those layouts.
  • Audio Mixer – A place where you control the individual volume of different sources that make up your stream. One example might be making your game’s audio louder than your background music to your viewers.
  • The Go Live button – A very important button. It starts your stream!

Note: You can customize this screen with even more elements, but we’ll cover the core pieces in this article.

The Editor Display

The Editor Display functions as a preview for your stream and gives you a place to design your stream layout.

You use the Source Selector below this view to add different elements to this window. Once added, you can move or resize any of them until you have a layout that suits you.

The Source Selector

“Sources” are the elements of your computer that you want to show on your stream. They include the game capture, alertbox, or that webcam pointed at your cat.

The Source Selector is a list of all active sources in your selected Scene. You can add, remove, reorder or tweak sources from here. Try clicking the + symbol and look for the application you want to add to your stream. More on this later in the article!

*Note: An application usually needs to be booted up and running before Streamlabs OBS is started in order for it to be available in the Source Selector.

The Scene Selector

The Scene Selector is a place where you can create different “templates” of layouts. If you move your game window, camera and overlay positions around, then save them as a “scene”, you can quickly transition to different ones.

The Audio Mixer

This is the audio mixer. Audio levels and their respective settings for different sources can be adjusted from here.

Stream Settings

When you first installed, the optimization step did its best to set some configuration values for you. However, it’s important to double check these settings. To get here, click the Settings gear in the lower left corner of the Editor Screen.

1. Click Stream on the left Menu. Take a look at the account to verify the channel to stream to.

2. Click Output to check stream settings:

This is where you check your stream’s Bitrate and Encoder settings. Picking the right Bitrate takes a little experimentation, but if you’re streaming at 720p with 30fps your bitrate should be between 2,500 and 4,000 kbps.

Encoder options are based on your hardware – x264 is software encoding using your CPU. If you have an Nvidia GPU, you may be able to use it as your encoder (NVENC).

3. Click Video to check resolution and Frames per second (FPS) values.

Much like Bitrate and Encoder settings, resolution and FPS are dependent on your hardware. The most common resolution is 1280×720 with an FPS of 30.

Adding Sources

So how do you get your game capture, webcam, and alerts set up? You add these sources to a scene. Let’s go through adding a game capture source; this is useful when capturing gameplay on your PC.

By default, there is one scene in your Scene Selector. More about Scenes later.

1. Click the + symbol in the Source Selector.

2. The Add Source window appears, which has a list of different sources available. Click Game Capture then Add Source.

3. Name this source (something useful to you). Click Add Source. This can be changed at any time.

4. Some sources have additional options, in this case the Game Capture has a few modes but for the sake of simplicity, leave it on Auto. Click Done to confirm.

5. Once a source is added, it can be added to other scenes.

Other Source Types

Now you know the basics of adding sources! Other sources are slightly different based on its type. That said, you’ll likely use these types:

  • Display or Window Capture: Show what’s on your screen or something confined to an application’s window.
  • Webcams or capture cards: Found under “Video Capture Device” this adds a camera or a capture device.

Note: When updating options for a source that exists in multiple scenes, it will change the source across all instances of it.

Adding Scenes

  1. Click the + symbol in the Scene Selector.

2. Name this Scene. Click Done to confirm.

More can be done to manage scenes and scene collections. We’ll cover that in a future article.

Going Live

So you installed Streamlabs OBS, checked your settings, added sources, and checked your audio levels. What now? It’s time to smash that button! To start your stream, press the button in the lower right corner of your editor screen:

The anticipation! One more thing to do. Give your stream a clever title, set the category, and add some tags. When you’re ready, click Confirm & Go Live.

You’re Now Streaming with Streamlabs OBS!

By now you should have everything you need to get started using Streamlabs OBS. Go forth and stream! Check back soon for more detailed articles on fine tuning your stream and making improvements!