How to Stream on Twitch: The Ultimate Guide

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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🔥 Ready to enter the wild world of live streaming on Twitch, but have no idea where to start? No problems! We help you with this definitive guide to live streaming on Twitch. Learn about popular live streaming software, the best microphones and webcams for streaming, required PC specs, and more!

You can't talk about live streaming without mentioning Twitch. The platform that emerged as an offshoot of the JustinTV live streaming platform is a key part of the live streaming ecosystem. 

Twitch started out as a gaming platform, but in recent years it has expanded to include creators of all genres. Even if you are not a game streamer, you should still know how Twitch works if you want to enter the world of live streaming.


👉 Creating a Twitch Account

Twitch's best features are only accessible to registered users. If you want to interact with the content, you will need to create an account. The same goes for joining the ranks of content creators. So that's where we're going to start. After that, we'll cover the software, equipment, and streaming process.

👀 How to create a Twitch account for live streaming

Setting up an account is simple. Even though Twitch has an extra step for those who want to live stream on the platform, it increases the total number of steps to three. And Twitch accounts are completely free.

1. Review the community guidelines.

Ideally, you should read the entire legal section of the Twitch website. But there's a lot of jargon, so follow the community guidelines at the very least. Please read the guidelines before creating the account and bookmark the page for occasional updates.

2. Create an account.

On a desktop computer, it's as easy as clicking the “sign up” button and filling out the form.

On mobile devices, you need to download the Twitch mobile app. Twitch recommends signing up initially with your phone number and adding an email later.

3. Enable two-factor authentication.

Here's the kicker: you can't stream on Twitch without enabling 2FA, and you can't enable 2FA on mobile devices. So, go to a desktop computer, log into your account, find security settings and enable 2FA. You will need a cell phone to complete the 2FA process.

⚙️ Which software to use for live streaming on Twitch

When streaming on Twitch from a desktop computer, the consensus is that beginners should start with software encoders unless they have hardware encoders available. 

Each software encoder comes with its own sets of pros and cons. If you're interested in some of the more popular options, they are:

  • OBS Studio – The top choice for many novice content creators, OBS Studio is free and open source streaming software with cross-platform compatibility. The learning curve can be a little steep if you've never used live streaming software before.
  • OBS Streamlabs – The Streamlabs version of OBS has some great features that can help you monetize your channel. It's only available on Windows, however. Read about the difference between OBS Studio and Streamlabs OBS to help you decide.
  • XSplit – A common solution for broadcasters looking to try paid software, it only shines if you are willing to invest in the paid version.
  • vMix – Consider this option when you decide you are ready to become a professional streamer.

If you're looking for a quick start on Twitch just to see if streaming is for you, try Twitch Studio, Twitch's proprietary streaming software that is currently in open beta. For even more options, check out Twitch's streaming software suggestions.

If you want to stream to platforms other than Twitch simultaneously, you will need to subscribe an additional software solution to your list.

Multistreaming software that integrates broadcast, chat and analysis can help you. It's easy to set up, free to use and requires no download. We know what you're thinking: you can't simulcast if you're a Twitch affiliate. 

Multistreaming is still a great way to get started on Twitch (you won't become an Affiliate overnight!), and it can be a valuable ally even after you're subject to the platform's exclusivity clause.

🤔 What kind of hardware to use when streaming on Twitch

You don't need the latest generation of CPUs or the latest model of DSLR to stream on Twitch. The platform isn't at the cutting edge in video quality – it doesn't support 4K streaming like YouTube does – so you can imagine getting away with lower quality gear.

However, the one hurdle many Twitch content creators face is that when streaming a video game, coding and playing can be too much of a burden on a computer's CPU. So you can't just start streaming on Twitch with any kind of gear. You need a CPU powerful enough to handle this. Let's look at one gear at a time.

💁‍♂️ A computer / console / smartphone

The central piece of hardware in any streaming setup is your computer, console, or smartphone, depending on what you're using. Game consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are viable options, as are smartphones. These devices provide an easy entry into the world of streaming because you don't have to worry too much about additional software and hardware.

However, desktop computers are the most popular choice for streaming. You can use a wide variety of hardware with them, and the streaming software allows for cool features like creating scenes and using overlays. In fact, desktop computers are so useful that even people streaming from consoles often use game consoles and a PC to stream the game.

PCs are pretty much unavoidable for high-end streaming, but they also give you more options when you're just starting out. Here's what you should consider when building a streaming desktop computer:

  • A CPU : need to deal with simultaneous games and encoding. You will need a very strong CPU. The Intel Core i5-10600K and AMD Ryzen 7 5800X are respectable mid-range choices, and the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is a solid budget option.
  • A GPU : an Nvidia RTX graphics card has built-in hardware encoders and you can use it with OBS Studio to help the CPU. Other good GPU options are the Radeon RX 570 and the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti.
  • SO : You can use a PC, but also a Mac or even a laptop. You'll need a good one if you want to use it for gaming and streaming .
  • Dual computer setup : You can use one computer for gaming and the other for encoding and streaming. The one with a stronger CPU should take care of the encoding.

Overall, you can start streaming with an i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a solid internet connection. However, the more you want from your content, the more you need to invest in basic equipment. The same rule applies to all other equipment that you will be using to broadcast as well, as you will see below.

a microphone

Unless you're an elite player who can attract and keep an audience simply by playing games incredibly well, you'll need to offer something else to keep your viewers engaged. Audio commentary is the least you can do – it allows you to show some personality and communicate with your audience.

Microphones are always a good investment for streamers because the audio quality of your stream is critical. You want people to be able to hear you clearly and understand what you say. If your viewers can't hear you, they won't stay on your channel. 

It's possible to use a gaming headset's built-in mic for a while, but it would be better to opt for a standalone mic right away. From lowest to highest price, some popular options are:

  • Elgato Wave 3
  • HyperX Quadcast S
  • Audio Technica AT2020
  • Razer Seiren Mini
  • Blue Yeti X

a webcam

If you think you should add facial expressions and other forms of non-verbal cues to your list of communication tools, you'll want to invest in a camera. You can get good results with webcams, which don't require a capture card. Here are some popular options:

  • Logitech HD Pro C920
  • Logitech StreamCam
  • Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000
  • Razer kiyo
  • Logitech BRIO

If you want to increase the video quality of your stream, you can also try streaming with a DSLR camera. To use it with live streaming software like OBS, you will need a capture card. A DSLR camera is more expensive than a webcam, but it increases the value of your output.

Choosing the least expensive options for a microphone and webcam will cost you around $100 in total, but it will ensure that your Twitch viewers can hear and see you well.

For a basic setup, a PC (or console or smartphone), a microphone and a webcam are all you need.

Additional streaming equipment

Basic setup is a great place to start. But eventually the lack of production value will stop it. If you want to add another computer to your setup or just want to look better on the camera, you will need to purchase some additional equipment.

Here are some of the gears you might want to consider when subs start coming in:

  • Lighting – if you're broadcasting with a camera, why not use a flattering light that makes it easier to be seen? There are many options – LED softboxes provide soft lighting, a ring of light provides even coverage with just one light, and inexpensive, strategically placed staple lamps can eliminate unwanted shadows.
  • Green screen – If you want to add or remove your background, a green screen can come in handy. Best of all, most coders will recognize it, so learning how to chroma key your streams is easy.
  • game capture card – if you want a two-computer setup or if you want to stream console games through one computer, you will need a game capture card. You have two options: external or internal. However, it can be difficult to find a game capture card below the $150 price point.
  • deck of streaming – a touchscreen that lets you trigger commands with a swipe of your finger, a streaming deck is a handy tool if you want to switch between multiple scenes while streaming, or if you want a simpler way to adjust audio levels and change your lighting.

As you become a more experienced Twitch content producer, you start figuring out what additional gear you need and which is just to burn your pocketbook. When it comes to live streaming equipment, think about value for money. Always look for the biggest bang for the buck you can spend.

🖥 How to live stream to Twitch from a desktop computer

One of the drivers behind the live streaming boom is accessibility. All you need is an internet connection and a device with a display to watch live streams. The fact that there are a large number of people with access to both bodes well for your broadcasting career.

To become a content creator, however, the bar is higher, especially if you want to succeed. But it takes little more than decent streaming gear and a willingness to get your feet wet. Here are the basic steps to start streaming on a desktop computer.

1. Plan the content you want to broadcast.

Twitch is now home to many different types of content. We'll look at all the good stuff you can live stream a little bit later, but for now, you should understand that different types of content require different equipment.

For example, creating good ASMR content requires high-quality microphones or even specialized equipment such as the 3Dio Free Space binaural microphone. This type of equipment may not be readily available at your local store, and if it is, it may come with a hefty price tag. Plan your content so you can plan your equipment.

2. Gather, connect and configure your equipment.

Before starting the streaming software setup, make sure all the hardware you need is connected. This means connecting your webcam and microphone to your computer. If you plan to add an additional computer monitor to your setup or want to use a green screen, now is the time to get it ready.

Test everything too. Set your webcam at a good angle and check the microphone audio levels. Now is a good time to isolate sound from the room you are streaming into or adjust the lighting if you are using lights.

3. Install the software and connect it to Twitch.

Any of the software options we mentioned earlier will work just fine for Twitch. For the purposes of this guide, however, we will use OBS Studio for all examples and explanations.

After installation, OBS Studio will ask whether or not to run the automatic configuration wizard. Consider opting for a manual configuration. This will make you familiar with some important aspects of streaming.

To get started, go to File > Settings > Flow in OBS Studio. Choose “Twitch” as your service, then connect your Twitch account to OBS Studio or connect Twitch using the stream key.

For the former, you just need your Twitch account login information. For the latter, you should go to Twitch, go to Settings > Channel & Videos and copy the primary stream key you see there. Paste it into OBS and you're done.

4. Add any audio/video sources and visuals you plan to use.

Everything you want to stream in your stream needs to be added as a source in OBS. Your microphone is a source, and so is the game you want to play, as is your webcam feed and everything else on your desktop. If you want this in your stream, you'll have to add it as a source.

The great advantage of OBS Studio is that most of the time it will recognize your audio sources. If not, you can go to File > Settings > Audio and find the devices you want to use for audio. Typically, this means having a device for desktop sounds (sounds you are playing on your computer) and a device for the sounds that come from your microphone (your voice).

As far as video sources are concerned, you will see the “sources” field in the main panel of OBS Studio. Clicking the “+” button will open a menu that allows you to add a variety of fonts, including games, your desktop, web pages, images and text files. Remember, though, that the fonts appear on the screen exactly as they appear in the “fonts” box, layered on top of each other. Moving a font up in the list will make it visible on top of other fonts.

5. Find your perfect streaming settings.

The streaming settings you want for Twitch will depend on your available upload bandwidth, the power of your encoder, and the type of content you want to stream. Higher bandwidth, a powerful processor, and the ability to dedicate only to encoding provide high-quality settings.

If you're looking for hard numbers, Twitch's own guide would be a good place to start. Twitch recommends that for a basic 720p stream at 30 fps you need a bitrate of around 3000 kbps. If you look at a list of good upload speeds for streaming, you'll see that this translates to around 5 Mbps upload speed.

Going through the five steps above is the simplest way to configure your OBS Studio for the first stream. This will help you at first, but you should consult a more in-depth guide when the time comes to improve things.

🤓 How to live stream to Twitch from consoles or smartphones

Live streaming on Twitch from a PC might not be the perfect option for you. Maybe you prefer to play on consoles, as many people do. Maybe you enjoy watching live streams on consoles – a lot of people are doing that too – and you don't see any justification for having separate devices to stream and watch. Or it could be that you don't want to go through the clunky process of setting up a gaming PC when there's a perfectly good console you can use for gaming and streaming. And, as a console user, you're probably already familiar with Twitch.

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🎮 How to stream to Twitch from a PS4

If you're looking to join the less crowded Twitch console streaming space, here's how to set up your consoles after creating a Twitch account and enabling 2FA. We'll start with the PlayStation 4.

1. Set up your PS4 for live streaming.

There are a few settings you should pay attention to before turning on the game and connecting the console to your Twitch account:

  • Make sure HDCP is turned off . You will find this option under Settings > System. Turn it on when watching content from services like Netflix on your PS4. During transmission, it must be off.
  • Configure your devices . Under Settings > Devices, you can find options for audio devices and also for PlayStation Camera. This is where you can adjust your microphone or headphone levels. The PlayStation 4 does not support any webcams other than the PlayStation Camera.
  • Configure audio sharing . When starting the game, press the “share” button on the controller and go to Sharing and Streaming Settings > Streaming Settings > Advanced Settings > Audio Sharing Settings. This is where you mute your microphone for your broadcast.
  • enable chat . In Sharing and Broadcast Settings > Broadcast Settings > Advanced Settings, you can check “Display Messages to Viewers and Comments from Viewers” ​​to enable chat.

2. Connect your PS4 to your Twitch account.

By clicking the “share” button on your controller, you will see the option to stream the game. The PS4 will ask which platform you want to use, and after selecting Twitch, you will need to connect the console to the account. You can do it:

  • Scanning a QR code that you will see on the screen, or
  • Go to from a computer or smartphone and enter the code you will see on the screen.

3. Do a final check and start streaming.

After connecting the console to Twitch, you will be able to choose a title for the stream, enable the camera if it is connected, and select the output quality. When you're done, you're ready to start streaming to Twitch from your PS4.

It's an easy process; you don't even need to install the Twitch app to do this. However, you'll need the Twitch app if you want to watch other people's streams on a PS4.

For steps to set up your PS5 to stream to Twitch, see this guide.

🕹 How to stream to Twitch from Xbox

The Xbox, unlike the PS4, does not come with native Twitch support. So if you want to stream to Twitch from an Xbox, your journey starts at the Xbox store.

1. Install the Twitch app.

Go to the store on your Xbox, look for the official Twitch app and install it.

2. Connect the Twitch app to your account.

After running the app for the first time, you will receive a six-digit code that you must manually enter at You will need a desktop computer or smartphone to visit this address.

3. Connect and configure your devices.

You can use any regular webcam with an Xbox One, and you can also use external microphones and headphones. Connect everything to your Xbox and make sure the microphone and webcam are enabled in the settings. You'll also want to tweak some other settings, so head to Settings > Account > Privacy & Online Safety > Xbox Live Privacy > View Details & Customize, then:

  • Go to Game Content and enable the options “You can stream the game” and “You can share content made using Kinect or another camera”.
  • Under Online status and history, select “Everyone” under “Others can see if you are online”.

It's also worth noting that the only way to stream video from an Xbox One to Twitch is with a Kinect. The console and Twitch app do not support external cameras, so if you don't have a Kinect, your stream will have to be audio and game only.

4. Create a title and start streaming.

Once you've set your stream title, you're ready to launch a game and start streaming.

📱 How to stream to Twitch from a smartphone

While consoles are very focused on streaming game content, smartphones are less so. The Twitch smartphone app only allows you to stream from your phone's camera, so if you want to stream mobile games, you'll have to deal with third-party apps. See how you stream live to Twitch from your smartphone.

1. Download and install the Twitch app.

Let's start at the beginning – you need to have the app installed on your smartphone. Download the Twitch app from the Play Store or the App Store.

2. Log in to the app.

You will have to go through the entire Twitch two-factor authentication process to log into the app.

3. Press your profile picture button in the upper left corner.

This will take you to the screen where you will notice the “go live” button.

4. Press the “Go Live” button.

You will have to allow access to your camera and/or microphone before you can live stream to Twitch via the app.

5. Set up the broadcast and go live.

Follow these simple steps before finally entering no ar:

  1. Give your stream a name.
  2. Select one of the content categories from the drop-down menu.
  3. Choose the camera you want to use.
  4. Share a link to your stream through apps you have on your phone.

With that, just hit the “start stream” button and you will be online.

Live streaming on Twitch is not too demanding for a newbie. You can have your content live on Twitch in a matter of minutes with some basic equipment and general computer skills. It's very easy to learn how to stream on Twitch – if your goal is just to stream live.

🙌 How to get good at streaming on Twitch

On Twitch, success is measured by the distribution of hours watched. A very limited number of top-tier streamers, four thousand of them, keep three-quarters of the hours watched live. Twitch has around 9 million monthly streamers, so the math is obvious. A lot of people aren't getting much attention on their content.

You will need to put in a little more effort than just learning how to stream on Twitch if your goal is to find a place among successful streamers. Creating your successful strategy starts with the most important aspect: content.

💬 What kind of content should you stream on Twitch?

Gaming content is what originally launched Twitch. For a long time, it was the main attraction of the platform. Even today, people seem to tune in primarily to watch game content. Two of the most popular categories, in terms of hours watched, are two game categories: League of Legends and Fortnite.

It is important to note, however, that as of March 2021, the Just Chatting category was dominating concurrent views and has amassed 63 million hours watched, representing a 12,8% view share of total hours watched. In the Just Chatting category, you can find channels about anything, not just gaming and gamer culture.

So what does this mean for you? You don't have to limit yourself to producing bad game content if there's something else you're much better at. Here are some tips that should help you establish yourself in a good content category – or a few.

1. Are you a variety streamer or are you limited to one category?

Some people will switch between gaming, chatting and streaming as part of a varied content strategy. Others will focus on talking alone, or creating art, or playing a single game, or playing a genre of games. As a variety streamer, your personality is the main attraction. If you're a more focused streamer, on the other hand, your knowledge and skills will help you build an audience.

2. Broadcast what you love.

You will likely spend some time broadcasting to a small audience. Getting started can be tough, and streaming can sometimes feel like an uphill battle to win over one viewer at a time. The best way to keep it up is by broadcasting something you really enjoy doing, whether it's a hobby of yours or a game you enjoy playing.

3. Carefully choose the games you want to stream.

The most popular games have a lot of viewers, but also a lot of established channels that reach them. New releases can skyrocket quickly, as is evident in the 2019 Apex Legends success story. A good trick is to use tools like Quizzical Pixel's What to Stream to find games that have good viewing but few channels stream them.

4. Consider a cross-play niche that people will find interesting.

You don't have to limit yourself to one category to become a respected streamer with a good following. You might be a speedrunner who wants to finish games as quickly as possible. You might be a highly competitive player who dominates games just to duel people. You can thrive as a community guru who discovers game mechanics and helps others become great at games.

5. Select content that you can generate regularly.

Since consistency is key when it comes to streaming, the best way to do this is to try to stick to a schedule as much as possible. If the content you want to create doesn't allow you to stream it regularly, it's best to avoid streaming that type of content. That is, of course, if you don't plan on adding some other type of content to your portfolio that might fill in the gaps.

👌 How do I make my stream look and sound great?

Your gear and your upload speed play a crucial role in the quality of your stream, but it's not all that matters. Content also affects quality, albeit in a different way. There are a few other effects you can add to your stream, as well as special settings you can pay attention to, that can make a world of difference.

If you want your stream to look and sound like some of the most popular streamers, consider the following:

  • Configure scenes in OBS Studio before streaming . Scenes are different layouts of content that you want to appear on screen and are essential for the smooth running of your stream.
  • Prepare a welcome screen, a BRB screen and an end screen . These can be still images that let people know that you're starting to broadcast soon, that you've had to walk away from her, or that the broadcast has ended.
  • Start using overlays . Overlays are graphics that sit on top of your live footage. They can help you customize the look and feel of your stream. There are free, premium and custom overlays available from the best overlay manufacturers.
  • Add alerts to your streams . Alerts are audiovisual packages triggered by specific actions, such as someone subscribing to your channel. They are provided by third-party services such as Streamlabs, Muxy, and StreamElements.
  • Check out some Twitch extensions . Twitch extensions are apps that can interact with your stream and, for example, provide real-time statistics on how your game is performing. You can also use them to let your viewers play minigames.
  • Add music to your stream . You'd be surprised how empty a stream can sound without music. Streaming copyrighted music without permission may cause your channel to be muted or subject to other penalties. Stay on the safe side using royalty-free music services like Pretzel Rocks, Soundstripe, Epidemic Sound or Restream Background Music.
  • Beware of Audio Sync . Having problems with audio syncing is quite common if you are streaming on Twitch. Handle this in OBS Studio using the Audio Sync Offset setting that you can find in the Audio Mixer settings.

Increase your live stream setup

If you're looking to add some power to your streaming setup to make it better at handling any game you want, adding a dedicated streaming PC is a great way to do that. If you're running a two-PC setup, you'll want the one with the most processing power to handle streaming. And you will need a capture card.

Capture cards come in internal and external variants. Internal cards must be physically installed on the motherboard of the streaming computer and then connected to the gaming PC via HDMI. External cards connect via USB to the streaming computer on one end and via HDMI to the gaming computer on the other end. After that, you just need to add the capture card as a source in OBS.

If you're using a PC console setup, the main difference is that the capture card sits between the console and your computer's TV or monitor. Use the “in” HDMI port to connect the console to the card and the “output” HDMI port to connect the card to the monitor or TV. Again, just add the card in OBS Studio as a source and you're done.

😇 What are the Twitch rules of etiquette that will help me engage the audience?

Just like any other place where people gather, Twitch has its own list of do's and don'ts. Some of these are Twitch-coded in the community guidelines, and yes, you should still read them if you skipped them at the beginning of the article.

But there are also practices that can increase your engagement and generally help everyone watching your stream – including you as a streamer – have fun. This is Twitch etiquette, and the most important rules you should observe include:

  • Say “hello” to viewers who frequent your channel. This will show them your appreciation and give other viewers something to work on.
  • Stick to your streaming schedule . Don't keep your viewers waiting and try not to surprise them with impromptu streams too often. People have lives.
  • use social media . Work to establish a presence on social media to further interact with your audience and look for business opportunities.
  • Network with other streamers . You're not doing this in a vacuum, so play with other streamers or stream together with them occasionally.
  • Say “thank you” to people who support you . Neglecting this is one of the worst ways to financially treat the people who support you.
  • Don't go to other people's streams to promote yourself in the chat room . This is beyond bad behavior and will likely have your efforts blocked by mods.
  • Recruit mods . Moderators can make all the difference to keep your stream chat clean and friendly.

You want your channel to be a fun place where people can have fun and enjoy the show. As a streamer, you must be welcoming. You must take your viewers' time and attention seriously and repay them by being the best content creator possible. Never miss an opportunity to engage with your audience, whether it's saying "hello" to them when they sign up or creating content that specifically appeals to your audience.

🦑 Twitch and multistreaming

When you're just starting out in your live-streaming career, sticking to a single platform can feel like you're putting all your eggs in one basket. And it's kind of – there are other platforms out there, and you might want to stream to them too. That's exactly what Restream is for.

Restream is a service that allows you to multistream or stream simultaneously to multiple channels. It has all sorts of convenient tools that can help with everything from streaming chats across different platforms to streaming pre-recorded content.

If you want to multi-stream to Twitch and other platforms, you can – but only up to a point. Once you become a Twitch Affiliate, which allows you to start earning revenue from your Twitch streams, your content will be subject to a 24-hour exclusivity clause. This means your content will be exclusive to Twitch during the stream and for 24 hours afterwards.

At this point, you can still use Restream to stream your content now from VoD to other platforms and take advantage of the analytics and chat features it offers. But you'll have to decide if you want to use Twitch first or keep all your cards open and multistream for a while.

Let's close!

Live streaming can be an incredibly rewarding experience. If you are able to create streamable content from something you enjoy doing, you can benefit from starting streaming. Whether it's making new friends, finding new business opportunities, or simply exercising your performance skills, streaming can only do you good.

As far as places where you can stream entertainment content, Twitch is an obvious choice. It is the leading platform that is successfully opening its doors to all types of content from games to ASMR and full body makeup tutorials. The platform is so popular and huge in the market that learning how to stream to Twitch is almost a rite of passage for future content creators.

However, Twitch is not the only platform out there. A lot of the advice you should follow when streaming to Twitch also applies to other platforms. By learning how to be a successful streamer on Twitch, you will learn how to be successful on other platforms as well. If you want to spread your content across multiple platforms, Restream is the tool you should use.

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