How to Use OBS Studio: A Comprehensive Guide for 2023 [2023 Update]

how to use obs

How to Use OBS Studio: A Comprehensive Guide for 2023

Live streaming software is very important for producing high-quality streams. This type of software is used for video encoding, mixing, and more. One of the most popular live streaming software tools is OBS Studio, Open Broadcaster Software, a free, open-source software for video recording and live streaming.

RTMP-enabled software encoders like OBS Studio provide the most versatility and are used by the majority of professional broadcasters. What is OBS Studio? OBS Studio is a free, open-source broadcasting software with an integrated video encoder application.

In this article, we will explain how to use OBS Studio. We’ll also cover how to add audio and video sources, add an image or OBS window capture to a broadcast, position multiple video sources, set up hotkeys, and choose the best encoder settings. Finally, we will provide you with a basic OBS studio tutorial.

Table of Contents

  • What is OBS Studio Used For?
  • How to Use OBS Studio
    • How to Add Video Sources on OBS Studio
    • How to Use the OBS Screen Recorder
    • How to Add Images or Text with OBS Studio
    • How to Arrange Multiple Video Sources on OBS Studio
    • How to Set Up Hotkeys on OBS Studio
  • Choosing the Right OBS Studio Encoder Settings
  • How to Use OBS Studio with Dacast
  • OBS Studio Video Tutorial
  • Streamlabs OBS (SLOBS) vs. OBS Studio
  • Conclusion

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What is OBS Studio Used For?

obs studio 27.0.1

OBS Studio is a great software encoder option and has many use cases. A simple setup is required before you can get started.

OBS Studio is a free and open-source streaming software that many broadcasters use for mixing and producing live video content. The latest version of OBS Studio, Version 29.1.1 was released on May 9th, 2023. It is available for macOS 11 or newer, Windows 10 and 11, as well as Ubuntu 20.04 and newer operating systems. For the Linux version, FFmpeg is required.

Using OBS Studio, you can livestream your content to multiple popular streaming platforms, including the likes of YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook, among others.

Some of the main functions of OBS Studio are encoding, screen recording, adding text and graphic overlays, managing multiple stream sources, and more. OBS operates with community-developed plugins, which you can find on the OBS Forums page.

Since OBS Studio software is a free and open broadcaster software, we often recommend that new broadcasters use OBS Studio to experiment and learn the ropes of video production.

How to Use OBS Studio

In order to use all of the functions of OBS Studio, you have to set up OBS to flow with your streaming setup. Luckily, the OBS Auto-Configuration Wizard is available to automatically determine the proper settings for your computer and streaming solution. The OBS Auto-Configuration Wizard makes using OBS for streaming video simple for beginners.

Even with the OBS Auto-Configuration Wizard tool, there are a few manual configurations that you’ll need to set up to use OBS for streaming. That said, let’s run through the process of setting up OBS Studio:

  1. Download OBS Studio
  2. Run the OBS Auto-Configuration Wizard to find optimal settings for your system
  3. Manually adjust suggested settings if necessary
  4. Setup your audio input capture devices: “Settings” > “Audio”
  5. Add a source: “Sources” > “+” > choose your source
  6. Confirm that settings are proper in: “Settings” > “Output”
  7. Test your stream by clicking “Start Recording” or “Start Streaming”

Check out the OBS Studio Quickstart Guide for more information on how to use OBS Studio.

With that general process in mind, let’s take a look at how to use the different functions of OBS Studio, such as adding a video source, screen recording, incorporating graphic overlays, and more. Let’s dive into how to use OBS for streaming.

How to Add Video Sources on OBS Studio

One of the simplest and most important tasks with OBS Studio is to add video sources to your stream. Video sources include things such as webcams or digital cameras.

This is how to set up video sources on OBS.

To add a video source, such as a webcam or a camera connected via a capture card, first, plug the device into your computer. Then, click on the “+” sign that is inside the “Sources” widget on OBS Studio:

Add Video Sources on OBS Studio

  • This will generate a drop-down menu with three different choices: Display Capture, Window Capture, and Video Capture Device.
  • Select “Video Capture Device” to add a camera.
  • Then, you will be asked to name your video source. You can add an existing one or create a new one
  • At this stage, you can also choose to flip the image vertically or horizontally, adjust the opacity, change the resolution, or set up a chroma-key (green screen) effect.
  • When you are done, click “OK,” and your video source will be added.

If there is a blank space bordering your video feed, you may need to go to “Settings” and adjust the resolution of your broadcast to match the size of your video input.

That is how you select a source in OBS.

Along with the video sources, OBS Studio also offers you an audio mixer that you can use when you’re dealing with multiple audio sources. It helps you mix the audio, mute them, and more to get greater control over your livestreams.

How to Use OBS Studio Window Capture

If you want to share your computer screen during your broadcast, you can either use Display or OBS Window Capture. Let’s go over how to use window capture.

Display Capture will broadcast everything that is on our computer screen in a certain area, although the size of that area can be changed. Window Capture for OBS will allow you to broadcast the screen of a particular application (Skype, Word, PowerPoint, Internet Browsers, etc.) and only that.

Here’s how to set up a Display Capture:

  • To set up a Display Capture, go to the “Sources” widget, click on the “+” sign and select “Display Capture.”
  • Give it a name and click “OK.”

From there, you have the choice of whether you want the mouse cursor to be captured or not. You can also set the opacity and select a “Sub-Region” to create a smaller area of your monitor screen to capture:

  • OBS window captureFor Windows Capture, go to the “Sources” widget, click on the “+” sign, and select “Window Capture.”
  • Name the source and click “OK.”
  • On the drop-down menu, select which application you want to OBS Window Capture from. If you don’t see the one you wanted, try re-launching OBS or the program (or both). If it still doesn’t appear, use “Monitor Capture” instead.
  • Choose whether you want to capture the Entire Screen or the Inner Screen. You have the option to choose if the mouse cursor is captured or not, the opacity, and create a smaller sub-region.
  • Click “OK” when you’re done.

This is how you record a window on OBS and get it to show your screen when recording a video.

Want to try Dacast with OBS Studio risk-free for 14 days? Take advantage of our free trial and the version of OBS that was designed to be used with Dacast.

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How to Add Images or Text with OBS Studio

It is easy to add images and text to your OBS streaming set-up.

So, how do you do it?

Here is the easiest way to add images to your OBS stream.

  • To add images to your stream, right-click under sources, then click “Add.”
  • From there, select “Image.” This will give you the option to browse for the image you want to add and adjust the opacity.

Alternatively, you can add an image slideshow and select several individual files or an entire folder.

The process of adding text to your OBS stream is very similar.

How, you might ask?

You can use the menu settings to choose color, opacity, font, size, and message text. Also, you can indicate whether or not you want the text to scroll, and you can set the scroll speed.

How to Arrange Multiple Video Sources on OBS Studio

OBS allows broadcasters to create scenes with more than one input on the same screen. This allows you to create professional picture-in-picture broadcasts and bring in multiple guests/videos via multiple video sources.

You can even mix the videos for a powerful post-production output. You can achieve this by adding your own stinger video files to OBS. You can also choose from numerous different and customizable transitions.

After adding a source, you can position it anywhere you like. To move a source, just click on it and resize and reposition it the way you want:

OBS Multiple video sources

You can also right-click on your video source to change the order, rotate them, or even add filters.

If you want to rearrange the layering of your sources, go to “Order” and then select “Move up,” “Move Down,” “Move to Top” or “Move to Bottom.” Whatever is on the top layer will cover the sources behind it, with the bottom layer at the back.

So, how do you add a filter?

To add a filter:

  • Right-click the video source
  • Select “Filter”
  • Choose the type of filters you want to add.

You can choose from a video filter, audio filter, or effect filter on the image.

For example, below is an example of an image blend filter and a color correction filter added on the video capture device source:

OBS studio filters

To remove anything that has been added in your OBS Studio software—a filter, a video source, or a desktop audio source—just click on the “eye” icon to mask it. For instance, after clicking on the “eye” icons of the effect filters previously added, my video source is back to its original state:

OBS effect filters for video capture device

It is easy to learn how to set up OBS for streaming and customize the layout.

And the best part about OBS Studio?

It also offers a Studio Mode. When you activate this mode, you will have the ability to preview your scenes from the sources before you go ahead and livestream them. This helps you avoid any untoward incident where a poor stream gets live streamed to your audience.

How to Set Up Hotkeys on OBS Studio

Hotkeys are a key feature of OBS Studio that will help take your streams to the next level.

Essentially, setting up hotkeys allows you to switch between multiple scenes instantly at the touch of a button. For example, if you have ever used CTRL+C to copy something on your computer, you have used a hotkey.

With OBS, the use of hotkeys allows for smooth, precisely-timed cuts between different pre-recorded or live video streams.

If you’ve followed our instructions above, you’ve already created your first scene.

And how do you use the hotkeys?

To use hotkeys, start by creating another scene by clicking on the “+” within the “Scene” widget:

How to Add a Scene in OBS Studio

You can set up hotkeys for switching between video streams, using filters, and other functions. OBS has some basic commands already established as hotkeys, such as:

  • Copy source              Ctrl+C
  • Past source               Ctrl+V
  • Remove source         Del
  • Fit to screen               Ctrl+F
  • Stretch to screen       Ctrl+S
  • Center to screen        Ctrl+D

This will make it easier to learn how to stream on OBS and create engaging broadcasts.

Choosing the Right OBS Studio Encoder Settings

Now that you’ve created your scenes and set up your video sources, you’re almost ready to begin broadcasting.

How do you ensure you’re ready then?

Double-check to make sure your encoder settings are correct.

Dacast has a few required OBS studio settings that apply to OBS Studio and any other encoding software you may use.

These are the required settings:


H.264 (x264 may work)


25 or 30


2 secs (or 2x frame rate)




Constant (CBR)




128 kbps


2 (Stereo)


48 kHz (48,000 Hz)

Check out our live encoder configuration post for a complete list of suggested settings to optimize your audio and video streaming.

How to Use OBS Studio with Dacast

dacast obs

In order to learn how to use OBS Studio with Dacast, you must first learn how to connect the two platforms.

For easier and faster setup, we recommend using the Dacast custom version of OBS Studio. If you decide to use our custom version of OBS Studio, check out this tutorial.

Before we dive into how to use OBS Studio for live streaming, we’re going to quickly cover how to connect your OBS Studio encoder to Dacast. This will allow you to ensure software compatibility, check out our post on the minimum OBS system requirements.

Open OBS Studio

  • First, you’re going to want to open up “Settings” on OBS Studio.
  • You’ll see a “URL” and “Stream Key.”
  • Keep these two codes handy.

Open Dacast live streaming platform

  • Navigate to the “Encoder Setup” window and select “Other RTMP Encoder.”
  • Input the URL and Stream Key into the fields labeled “Stream URL” and “Stream Key,”
  • Select “Use Authentication.”
  • Fill in “Username” and “Password” using the login information of your live channel.

From there, you should be good to go to live stream with OBS Studio using Dacast.

Connect OBS to Dacast

Next, we need to connect OBS to Dacast.

  • To do this, go to “Settings” and select “Stream” on the left side Menu.
  • Select “Custom Live streaming server“:

OBS studio settings - custom streaming server

The URL and Stream keys are available in the RTMP encoder to set up a section of your Dacast last channel.

Once you have copy-pasted the information related to your Dacast live channel, check “Use authentication”.

OBS studio settings - user authentication

You will see that you need to enter a username and a password. These are the login and password of your Dacast live channel, available in the encoder setup section where you find the stream URL and stream key. For more details on those 2 steps, you can always check this tutorial for connecting Dacast with OBS.

Finally, make sure your encoder settings are correct. We recommend the following:

  • Resolution: match your camera/source resolution
  • Frames per second: use 30 unless you have a specific reason not to
  • Keyframe interval: 2 seconds
  • Video codec: x264
  • Bitrate: Check out our bitrate guide for multi-bitrate streaming
  • Audio codec: AAC
  • Channels (audio): Stereo for all streams above 360p resolution, Mono for below
  • Audio sample rate: 22 Khz

Now do a test stream to make sure your broadcast looks and sounds the way you want.  If it all works the way you’d hoped, you’re ready to go!

OBS Studio Video Tutorial

We recommend checking out our OBS Studio video tutorial for a visual recap of this step-by-step walkthrough of how to use OBS Studio.

Streamlabs OBS (SLOBS) vs. OBS Studio

Streamlabs OBS is another open-source software that functions similarly to OBS Studio. Both of these tools are great for professional broadcasters, but there are a few notable differences between the two.

In general, Streamlabs OBS has more automated features, making it easier to use. However, OBS Studio supports some more advanced functionalities.

Streamlabs OBS offers access to some premium features, such as a Streamlabs App Store, Naming Cloud Bot, extra storage, and more. Also, Streamlabs has multistream capabilities and is one of several multistreaming platforms that supports this feature. However, these features can only be accessed with a paid Prime subscription to the software.

Like OBS Studio, Streamlabs OBS can be downloaded for free, but the Streamlabs OBS Prime membership costs $149/year or $19/month. OBS Studio is free forever, so it is certainly worth trying out.


1. How do I use OBS Studio step by step?

Here are the steps you can follow to use OBS Studio:

  1. Download OBS Studio
  2. Run the OBS Auto-Configuration Wizard
  3. Adjust suggested settings, if necessary
  4. Setup your audio devices: “Settings” > “Audio”
  5. Add a source: “Sources” > “+” > choose your source
  6. Confirm that settings are proper: “Settings” > “Output”
  7. Test your stream by clicking “Start Recording” or “Start Streaming”

2. What is OBS Studio and how do you use it?

OBS Studio is a free and open-source platform for Mac, Windows, and Linux that’s particularly used for offline recording of videos and live streaming. You can start using it by adding a source for your video streams and select an output for the same.

3. How do I start recording on OBS Studio?

To start recording on OBS Studio, you need to first select your video source. Next, select your output settings to ensure that they’re on point. Finally, click on “Start Recording.”

4. Is OBS Studio only for live streaming?

No, OBS Studio is also available for video recording and not just live streaming. You can capture and save your video file for later use on your device.

5. Do I need a PC to use OBS Studio?

Yes, you need Windows (10, 11), Mac (macOS 11 and newer), or Linux (Ubuntu 20.04 and newer) PC to run the latest version of OBS Studio. Older versions might be compatible with older generations of PCs, but you can’t use any other devices.

How to Use OBS Studio: Conclusion

Once your streaming software is all set up and you know how to work with all of the features that OBS Studio has to offer, run a test stream to make sure your broadcast looks and sounds the way you want.

How does this help?

If it all works the way you’d hoped, you know how to use OBS Studio well. You can use the OBS Studio platform to broadcast content from webcams, cameras, and even record and share the contents of your screen.

Using OBS with Dacast is a great option if you want to stream live video on your website since it is fully loaded with the features you need to run a professional-grade broadcast.

New to Dacast and interested in trying out our white-label streaming platform for yourself? Sign up today for a 14-day trial to test out all of our features for free. No credit card is required.

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Harmonie Duhamel

Harmonie is a Senior digital marketer with over 6 years in the Tech Industry. She has a strong marketing and sales background and loves to work in multilingual environments.