How to stream on Twitch

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you're a prospective streamer, knowing how to stream to Twitch is important. 

That's because the Amazon-owned streaming platform has attracted over 9 million unique users over the years. It has become immensely popular and turned into more than just a website to stream video games. It hosts a wide range of live entertainment channels: from professional e-sports gameplay to casual cooking shows and living room DJ sets — as well as some questionable ASMR streams (if you're into that).

If you want to start streaming on Twitch, all you need is a computer, webcam, microphone and a solid internet connection. The whole process is so simple that you can set everything up before you reach the end of this article. However, if you're keen on putting together a more polished setup, you could accomplish this within the hour, whether that's using your gaming PC, laptop, console or even your mobile phone.

Whether you want to try your luck on Twitch or if you're already sure that the journey to Internet stardom is something you want to pursue, here's everything you need to know about how to stream on Twitch. Also, be sure to read our Ultimate guide to Twitch to learn more.

How to stream on Twitch: Picking your software

Thanks to its ability to enable streaming from a variety of platforms, streaming on Twitch is a lot easier than you might think. But some of the most common places to stream Twitch from are gaming PCs as well as reasonably powerful gaming laptops. To do so, you're going to need the right software to get your stream up and running.

The two major choices are XSplit, which is a Windows-centric tool, and Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), which is available on Mac, Linux and Windows. With an intuitive interface, XSplit is the easiest to use, though it requires you to pay for it. OBS is a great free alternative and is probably one of the most popular pieces of streaming software, but it will require you to roll your sleeves up and do a bit more initial setup.

OBS is the most popular program used for streaming to Twitch. (Image credit: OBS)

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.

Those new to the world of steaming can take a look at Twitch Studio, Twitch's very own streaming app that's designed with beginners in mind. This app is free and offers guided setup for the main devices in your streaming setup, such as webcam and game feed. It also offers customizable templates to get your streaming career started quickly.

How to use OBS

Configuring Your Stream

1. Open OBS.

2. Click File then click Select Settings.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

3. From the left-hand side menu, select Stream.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

4. Set Service to Twitch. After that, click on Connect Account for the quickest setup.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

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.)

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

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 by clicking on your profile picture on the top right corner. Select settings from the left-hand corner. Click Stream to open up another menu. You'll see your stream key at the very top.

(Image credit: Twitch)

7. Copy and paste that code into the Stream Key box in the Broadcast Settings menu. Select 'OK'.

(Image credit: Twitch)

Setting the scene and going live

1. On the main OBS interface, right-click the Sources box and select Add, then Game Capture.

(Image credit: OBS)

2. Select your game of choice from the drop-down menu and click OK.

(Image credit: OBS)

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.

(Image credit: OBS)

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.

(Image credit: OBS)

(Image credit: OBS)

5. Select Start Streaming on the OBS dashboard. You're now live!

(Image credit: OBS)

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. There's a brace of popular toolsets for enhancing the look and feel of your stream are StreamLabs and StreamElements.

StreamElements is an all-in-one, browser-based tool 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.

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.

How to stream to Twitch from PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S

If you have a PS4, PS5, Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S, you can broadcast directly from your console without having to worry about any external hardware or software.

To stream on Twitch via the PS4 or PS5, simply press your controller's 'Share' button, select Broadcast Gameplay and choose Twitch. Once you're logged in, you can go live with the push of a button.

Meanwhile, streaming on Twitch via the Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S is similarly simple, however, you will 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 Sony and Microsoft also let you chat with your viewers straight from your headset, as well as stream your webcam 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.

Denise Primbet
News Writer

Denise is a Life Reporter at Newsweek, covering everything lifestyle-related, including health, relationships, personal finance, beauty and more. She was formerly a news writer at Tom’s Guide, regularly producing stories on all things tech, gaming software/hardware, fitness, streaming, and more. Her published content ranges from short-form news articles to long-form pieces, including reviews, buying guides, how-tos, and features. When she's not playing horror games, she can be found exploring East London with her adorable puppy. She’s also a part-time piano enthusiast and regularly experiments in the kitchen.