OBS Studio is an open source video recorder and streaming app for Windows, Linux and macOS

Oct 10, 2019
Linux, Mac, Windows, Windows software

OBS Studio aka Open Broadcaster Software Studio is very popular among YouTube users. You can use it to broadcast gameplay streams live or use it to record videos (which you may then upload to YouTube or other video hosting sites). Want to set up a camera and mic to record content for your vlog? You can do that too.

This is one of those rare applications that is user-friendly on the one hand but still advanced enough to deliver the options that advanced users require. That being said, we're going to take a look at the basic usage of the program, the recording of on-screen content.

OBS Studio is a cross-platform program that is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

When you run the program for the first time you will see an "Auto-configuration Wizard" prompt. This can help you setup the program for your usage as it may optimize the settings for streaming (with recording as a secondary option) or recording (no streaming).

The wizard also lets you pick the resolution and frame rate per second, both of which are important for recording/streaming gameplay video. OBS Studio can stream directly to Twitch, YouTube, Mixer, Facebook, or Twitter among many other services. The program can be used to authenticate your channel's account to stream content directly to it.

If you choose the auto-config wizard, OBS Studio will determine your system's hardware capabilities and choose a pre-set for the video output (encoder, quality, resolution, fps..). This is recommended if you're new to the video capturing scene.

The interface of OBS Studio is quite easy to grasp even for beginners. The menu bar at the top has some advanced options that you can tinker with but can be safely ignored for now. The large pane in the middle is the video preview pane. The bottom of the screen is divided into 5 parts; Scenes, Sources, Audio Mixer, Scene Transitions, Controls.

Video capture

Scenes are a collection of sources. You can have multiple scenes, each containing different sources. The Sources section is where you select the content that you wish to capture. You can select audio, video, images, browser (web URLs), windows (select the program),  games (full screen applications) etc. as the source.

Once you select the video source, the preview pane will display a live preview of the content that you wish to capture. For example, if you wish to record your desktop screen, select "Display capture", for gameplay, select game, and so on.

OBS Studio is an open source video recorder and streaming app for Windows, Linux and macOS

Audio capture

Now that your video source is set up, let's move on to audio. The Audio Mixer can be used to record the Desktop Audio and Mic Audio. These options can be useful if you want to record gameplay audio and want to add your own commentary to it. Or just one of the two. Control the volume using the bars, or mute either or both of them by clicking on the speaker icon. Clicking on the gear cog icon next to the audio bars lets you select the audio source in case you have more than one sound cards.

Finalizing the video settings

Scene Transitions are useful when switching from one video to another, or if you want to focus on something else. Before we dive to the Controls section, let's go through the Settings. Here you can configure various options for the program.

More importantly, you can define the audio and video input and output settings. Examples include configuring the video output to use x264 encoding, or to save the recording in a format like mkv, mp4, flv or mov. You can also choose the bitrate of the video and audio as per your requirements.

Record or stream

Once you are happy with the settings, hit the Start Streaming button or the Start Recording button (in the Controls section) to start the capturing process. You can pause recordings with the pause button.

Interestingly, this feature wasn't available until a recent update. Click on the stop button and the video will be saved at the location that you selected in the settings.

OBS Studio settings

Closing Words

Please refer to the official website for advanced usage tips, keyboard shortcuts, customization options, etc. It takes time to master the application. The program is easy to use and very powerful at the same time.

OBS Studio is available in a portable version for 64-bit systems. The program runs on Windows 7 and above, macOS 10.11 and newer, Ubuntu 14.04 or newer.

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Author Rating
1.5 based on 3 votes
Software Name
OBS Studio
Operating System
Windows, Linux, macOS
Software Category
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  1. Tony said on December 31, 2019 at 2:18 am

    I recommend Allavsoft, it has both the record and downloading feature.
    It can record screen activity and also download online video and music files by copy and paste the video or music url.
    It has both Mac and Windows version

  2. ipnonymous said on October 11, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    XSplit Broadcaster also very good.

  3. Clairvoyance said on October 11, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    OBS Studio is the best application made. It changed video recording and streaming entirely. It made a lot of people’s lives too. It’s really great project. Hopefully, it stays this way!

  4. OBS User said on October 11, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    If only they could fix the black screen issue with Chrome using hardware acceleration. Other than that it’s very good even the intefrace is a bit dated and messy.

  5. Jonas said on October 10, 2019 at 11:54 pm

    I bought ScreenFlow (for the Mac) years ago, but upgrading it to work with recent versions of MacOS would cost me at least $130 (or more, depending on the version/package I chose). OBS Studio sounds appealing as it’s free and cross-platform.

    I realize this is mostly a Windows-centric website, but does anyone here happen to know how OBS Studio compares to ScreenFlow in features and general workflow/quality?

    1. VioletMoon said on October 11, 2019 at 8:41 pm

      Here’s a quickie link:


      Lots of reviews; Camstasia, I think, is the best.

      1. Jonas said on October 13, 2019 at 5:24 am

        Thank you. It’s rare that I get such a direct, useful answer to a question like that.

        From their chart, it looks like ScreenFlow really does have a few features that are important to me, and which OBS Studio lacks (such as partial screen capture). They also say that ScreenFlow has “high-quality recording” which is not listed for OBS — but I’m not sure what, specifically, that means. I just looked at Camstasia’s website too; apparently it costs about twice as much as ScreenFlow.

  6. VioletMoon said on October 10, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    That was fun–Live!


    1. VioletMoon said on October 11, 2019 at 8:46 pm

      Totally easy to start a Live Stream of desktop or one’s own show.

      One can easily save the Live Stream.

      Rather easy learning curve.

      Comments on anything Ashwin writes usually disappear–never published even though they follow the guidelines–or it takes so long for the comment to appear that a link such as the Live Stream becomes irrelevant for showing one aspect of OBS that makes it a power-fool piece of open source software.

  7. ikjadoon said on October 10, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    While I used to be a big OBS user (excellent compression & quality), I had to move on to Captura (also free & open source).


    OBS since version 23.x cannot record two screens at once if they’re powered by separate GPUs (for me, one display by the iGPU and one by the dGPU). You have to go back to version 15 and so I moved on. Captura does this no problem,.

    Still love OBS, but Captura is pretty dang good (and I can say, way more user friendly).

  8. sorry said on October 10, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    Obs best feature is the “Replay Buffer” which can save what you have been doing (desktop/game/etc) for the last x minutes.

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