There's never been a better time to learn how to stream to Twitch. The Amazon-owned livestreaming platform is host to more than 2 million broadcasters who stream to hundreds of millions of viewers a month. And it's more than just a place to play and watch games — Twitch streams now comprise everything from high-level Call of Duty action to cooking shows and live music.
Better yet, anyone can be a Twitch streamer. You can go live right from your phone or console if you just want to test the waters, and if you want to put together a more involved production from your PC or Mac, all you need is some free software and a few pieces of gear to get started.
If you're lucky, you can even make some money from streaming thanks to Twitch's Affiliate and Partner programs. So whether you're looking to try out streaming for fun or want to further your journey to Twitch superstardom, here's everything you need to know for how to stream to Twitch.
How to stream on Twitch: Picking your software
There are multiple ways to stream to Twitch (which we'll get to below), but if you're going live from a PC, you'll need some streaming software. The two main choices are Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), which is available on Windows, Mac and Linux, as well as XSplit, which is built for Windows. OBS is free and open source but requires a bit more setup, while XSplit is highly intuitive but requires a paid subscription for some of its better features.
There are also custom versions of OBS available, including Streamlabs OBS and StreamElements OBS.Live. These programs sync up with Streamlabs and StreamElements respectively to let you easily set up custom layouts, alerts and more.
Newer streamers can also check out Twitch Studio, Twitch's in-house streaming app that's currently in beta and is designed with beginners in mind. This free app offers guided setup for the key components of your stream (such as webcam and game feed), and features customizable templates to get your stream off the ground 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. Two popular toolsets for enhancing the look and feel of your stream are StreamLabs and StreamElements.
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.
StreamElements is an all-in one, browser-based solution 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.
How to stream to Twitch from PS4 and Xbox One
If you have a PS4 or Xbox One, you can broadcast directly from your console without having to worry about any external hardware or software.
To stream to Twitch on PS4, simply press the DualShock 4's Share button, select Broadcast Gameplay and choose Twitch. Once you're logged in, you can go live with the push of a button.
Streaming to Twitch on Xbox One is similarly simple, though you'll 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 consoles let you chat with your viewers from your headset, as well as show your face 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.
It's still not confirmed whether the PS5 or Xbox Series X will have the same built-in broadcasting capabilities as the current-gen consoles, but we'll be sure to update this guide once we've gotten to test them firsthand.