How to Live Stream from a Windows PC to YouTube

Introduction

This guide will help you setup and retrieve your YouTube Stream Key, set up streaming software, and ready yourself for your first stream.
Before You Begin:
  • Be at your computer.
Active Google Account
YouTube

Streaming Software

Windows 10 does not come with any pre-installed desktop streaming software that is compatible with social Live Streaming services.

In order to continue, you will need to have some sort of screencasting software installed and functioning on your computer. There are dozens of different packages available, each with different options, user interfaces, and features. Each is made by different companies or groups, and many are paid-for software, while some are free.

If you are more familiar, and prefer to use a different screencasting software suite, you may choose to use that package instead.

OBS

OBS

OBS is a free, open source software package designed to be very powerful, but relatively easy to use, to stream your desktop to a service such as YouTube.

1 Streaming Process Overview

The basic overview for streaming is:

  1. Get your YouTube Stream Key.
  2. Setup your Encoding Software.
  3. Add your stream information to YouTube.
  4. Go live with your stream.
This guide is designed to give you a basic overview to the process of streaming. You will most likely want to further customize exactly how you use your streaming software, as well as the exact options chosen on YouTube.

2 Retrieve Stream Key

  1. Open your preferred browser and type youtube.com/live_dashboard in the address bar, then push Enter or Return.
    Browser with address entered and highlighted.
YouTubeFirst-Time Streamers
YouTube imposes a 24-hour delay on streaming after requesting Live Streaming capabilities for first-time streamers. There is no way around this. Please prepare ahead!
Every Google and YouTube account is slightly different; you may or may not see some of the prompts here, depending on exactly how your account is setup. If a step appears to be "missing", simply move forward with what is on your screen, instead.
  1. Sign in to YouTube with your Google account.
    Google sign-in with email address and Next button highlighted.
  2. Enter your name, or the name you want to stream with, and select Create Channel.
    Use YouTube as with name fields and Create Channel highlighted.
  3. Select Get Started.
    Streaming welcome with Get Started highlighted.
  4. In order to stream you YouTube, your Google account must be fully verified. Select your Country, if you'd prefer to receive the two-step verification code with a phone call or a text message, enter your Phone Number, then select Submit.
    Google Account verification with Country, verification method, phone number, and submit highlighted.
  5. Enter the six-digit number you received via text or call, then select Submit.
    Account verification with 6-digit code and Submit highlighted.
  6. Your account is now verified, select Continue.
    Account verified with Continue highlighted.
  7. You'll be returned to your YouTube Channel's Status and Features. Scroll down, and select Enable for Live Streaming.
    Live Streaming with Enable highlighted.
  8. You'll be reminded there is a 24-hour hold on new streamers from when you request to enable the feature. Select Learn More (or visit support.google.com/youtube/answer/2474026 at any time) to review Google's Introduction to Live Streaming, access the YouTube Community Guidelines, and Terms of Service that you must adhere to.
    Live Stream enabled with 24-hour wait with Learn More highlighted.
Please take a moment and be sure you read and understand both the Community Guidelines, as well as the Terms of Service before live streaming with YouTube.
  1. Scroll down to Encoder setup, select Reveal.
    Encoder setup with Reveal highlighted.
  2. Carefully note your Server URL and Stream name/key. You will need this to configure your streaming program.
    Encoder Setup with Server URL and Stream Key highlighted.
    Your stream key is yours and yours alone. Do not share it with anyone, nor show it live on a stream. Anyone who has this code can go live on your YouTube channel, and you will be responsible for any content they share.

3 Auto-Configuration Wizard (YouTube)

  1. Open OBS Studio.
    OBS
  2. The first time you launch OBS Studio, you'll be asked if you want the program to automatically configure. Select Yes.
    Auto-Configuration Wizard with Yes highlighted.
    If you wish to re-launch the auto-configuration wizard, select Tools > Auto-Configuration Wizard.
    Tools menu with Auto-Configuration Wizard highlighted.
  3. You'll be asked how you wish to use OBS primarily. Select Optimize for streaming, then select Next.
    Usage Information with Optimize for streaming and Next highlighted.
  4. For Base (Canvas) Resolution select Use Current. For FPS, select Either 60 or 30. Then, select Next.
    Video Settings with Use Current, Either 60 or 30, and Next highlighted.
  5. For Service, select YouTube / YouTube Gaming. Enter your Stream Key you just got from your YouTube Live Dashboard. Then, select Next.
    Stream Information with Service, Stream Key, and Next highlighted.
    The Stream Key will appear as dots. This is to help keep you safe from people seeing it as you enter your key. Always keep your Stream Key secret.
  6. OBS will perform a test of your system to determine the best quality with minimal impact on your stream as possible. Once complete, select Apply Settings.
    Final Results with Apply Settings highlighted.

4 Add Stream Info

  1. Open your preferred browser and type youtube.com/live_dashboard in the address bar, then push Enter or Return.
    Browser with address entered and highlighted.
  2. Scroll down, and fill in the Basic Info about your stream. Give it a Title and Description, select a category, and choose if your stream will be Public, Unlisted, or Private.
    Stream info with Title, Description, Category, and Listing highlighted.
    Public
    Anyone will be able to join and watch your stream, and it will be searchable from YouTube's search bar. This is best for gathering a large audience and being social with anyone who has access to YouTube.
    Unlisted
    Your stream will not be listed or searchable, but those you give the address will be able to see your stream. This is best if you wish to share your stream with a select few, such as backers or a small community, but not with everyone, though anyone can join if someone shares the address with them.
    Private
    Only those you specifically invite will be able to see the stream. This is best if you're streaming to a very select group, such as family or a close-knit group, and don't want everyone to be able to join. The people you choose to allow in must have a Google account, and you must select them personally.
You may wish to review further options in Stream Options, Cards, and Encoder Setup to further refine your stream.

5 Go Live

  1. Return to OBS. Under Controls, select Start Streaming.
    OBS
    Controls with Start Streaming highlighted.
  2. A few moments later, the status bar at the bottom of OBS will start providing information about the health of your stream.
    OBS status bar
    Dropped Frames
    If your computer can't keep up with encoding, your Internet connection isn't quite fast enough, there's congestion on the Internet between you and the streaming server, or the Ingest server is very busy, you may see that your stream drops frames. Some dropped frames are fine, but if there's a large percentage of dropped frames, it may indicate you need to decrease quality or change other settings.
    LIVE
    How long you've been live and streaming for.
    REC
    If you've chosen to record, how long you've been recording your screen for.
    CPU
    How much CPU or how much of your computer's processor is in use at a given moment. This also gives an estimate of how many frames per second, or FPS, you're streaming at.
    Color Square
    The colored square gives a simple, at-a-glance view of the health of your stream, green, yellow, or red.
    kb/s
    How much upload bandwidth you're using for your stream at a given moment.
    At this point, anything and everything shown on your screen is being broadcast, live, to anyone who chooses to tune in.
    Do not show any sensitive information, such as banking, passwords, stream keys, etc. or they will be taken.

Stopping Stream

  1. When you are done streaming, select Stop Streaming in OBS to end your stream.
    OBS
    OBS Controls with Stop Streaming highlighted.

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This guide will help you setup and retrieve your YouTube Stream Key, set up streaming software, and ready yourself for your first stream.
Before You Begin:
  • Be at your computer.
Active Google Account
YouTube

Streaming Software

Windows 10 does not come with any pre-installed desktop streaming software that is compatible with social Live Streaming services.

In order to continue, you will need to have some sort of screencasting software installed and functioning on your computer. There are dozens of different packages available, each with different options, user interfaces, and features. Each is made by different companies or groups, and many are paid-for software, while some are free.

If you are more familiar, and prefer to use a different screencasting software suite, you may choose to use that package instead.

OBS

OBS

OBS is a free, open source software package designed to be very powerful, but relatively easy to use, to stream your desktop to a service such as YouTube.

The basic overview for streaming is:

  1. Get your YouTube Stream Key.
  2. Setup your Encoding Software.
  3. Add your stream information to YouTube.
  4. Go live with your stream.
This guide is designed to give you a basic overview to the process of streaming. You will most likely want to further customize exactly how you use your streaming software, as well as the exact options chosen on YouTube.
  1. Open your preferred browser and type youtube.com/live_dashboard in the address bar, then push Enter or Return.
    Browser with address entered and highlighted.
YouTubeFirst-Time Streamers
YouTube imposes a 24-hour delay on streaming after requesting Live Streaming capabilities for first-time streamers. There is no way around this. Please prepare ahead!
Every Google and YouTube account is slightly different; you may or may not see some of the prompts here, depending on exactly how your account is setup. If a step appears to be "missing", simply move forward with what is on your screen, instead.
  1. Sign in to YouTube with your Google account.
    Google sign-in with email address and Next button highlighted.
  2. Enter your name, or the name you want to stream with, and select Create Channel.
    Use YouTube as with name fields and Create Channel highlighted.
  3. Select Get Started.
    Streaming welcome with Get Started highlighted.
  4. In order to stream you YouTube, your Google account must be fully verified. Select your Country, if you'd prefer to receive the two-step verification code with a phone call or a text message, enter your Phone Number, then select Submit.
    Google Account verification with Country, verification method, phone number, and submit highlighted.
  5. Enter the six-digit number you received via text or call, then select Submit.
    Account verification with 6-digit code and Submit highlighted.
  6. Your account is now verified, select Continue.
    Account verified with Continue highlighted.
  7. You'll be returned to your YouTube Channel's Status and Features. Scroll down, and select Enable for Live Streaming.
    Live Streaming with Enable highlighted.
  8. You'll be reminded there is a 24-hour hold on new streamers from when you request to enable the feature. Select Learn More (or visit support.google.com/youtube/answer/2474026 at any time) to review Google's Introduction to Live Streaming, access the YouTube Community Guidelines, and Terms of Service that you must adhere to.
    Live Stream enabled with 24-hour wait with Learn More highlighted.
Please take a moment and be sure you read and understand both the Community Guidelines, as well as the Terms of Service before live streaming with YouTube.
  1. Scroll down to Encoder setup, select Reveal.
    Encoder setup with Reveal highlighted.
  2. Carefully note your Server URL and Stream name/key. You will need this to configure your streaming program.
    Encoder Setup with Server URL and Stream Key highlighted.
    Your stream key is yours and yours alone. Do not share it with anyone, nor show it live on a stream. Anyone who has this code can go live on your YouTube channel, and you will be responsible for any content they share.
  1. Open OBS Studio.
    OBS
  2. The first time you launch OBS Studio, you'll be asked if you want the program to automatically configure. Select Yes.
    Auto-Configuration Wizard with Yes highlighted.
    If you wish to re-launch the auto-configuration wizard, select Tools > Auto-Configuration Wizard.
    Tools menu with Auto-Configuration Wizard highlighted.
  3. You'll be asked how you wish to use OBS primarily. Select Optimize for streaming, then select Next.
    Usage Information with Optimize for streaming and Next highlighted.
  4. For Base (Canvas) Resolution select Use Current. For FPS, select Either 60 or 30. Then, select Next.
    Video Settings with Use Current, Either 60 or 30, and Next highlighted.
  5. For Service, select YouTube / YouTube Gaming. Enter your Stream Key you just got from your YouTube Live Dashboard. Then, select Next.
    Stream Information with Service, Stream Key, and Next highlighted.
    The Stream Key will appear as dots. This is to help keep you safe from people seeing it as you enter your key. Always keep your Stream Key secret.
  6. OBS will perform a test of your system to determine the best quality with minimal impact on your stream as possible. Once complete, select Apply Settings.
    Final Results with Apply Settings highlighted.
  1. Open your preferred browser and type youtube.com/live_dashboard in the address bar, then push Enter or Return.
    Browser with address entered and highlighted.
  2. Scroll down, and fill in the Basic Info about your stream. Give it a Title and Description, select a category, and choose if your stream will be Public, Unlisted, or Private.
    Stream info with Title, Description, Category, and Listing highlighted.
    Public
    Anyone will be able to join and watch your stream, and it will be searchable from YouTube's search bar. This is best for gathering a large audience and being social with anyone who has access to YouTube.
    Unlisted
    Your stream will not be listed or searchable, but those you give the address will be able to see your stream. This is best if you wish to share your stream with a select few, such as backers or a small community, but not with everyone, though anyone can join if someone shares the address with them.
    Private
    Only those you specifically invite will be able to see the stream. This is best if you're streaming to a very select group, such as family or a close-knit group, and don't want everyone to be able to join. The people you choose to allow in must have a Google account, and you must select them personally.
You may wish to review further options in Stream Options, Cards, and Encoder Setup to further refine your stream.
  1. Return to OBS. Under Controls, select Start Streaming.
    OBS
    Controls with Start Streaming highlighted.
  2. A few moments later, the status bar at the bottom of OBS will start providing information about the health of your stream.
    OBS status bar
    Dropped Frames
    If your computer can't keep up with encoding, your Internet connection isn't quite fast enough, there's congestion on the Internet between you and the streaming server, or the Ingest server is very busy, you may see that your stream drops frames. Some dropped frames are fine, but if there's a large percentage of dropped frames, it may indicate you need to decrease quality or change other settings.
    LIVE
    How long you've been live and streaming for.
    REC
    If you've chosen to record, how long you've been recording your screen for.
    CPU
    How much CPU or how much of your computer's processor is in use at a given moment. This also gives an estimate of how many frames per second, or FPS, you're streaming at.
    Color Square
    The colored square gives a simple, at-a-glance view of the health of your stream, green, yellow, or red.
    kb/s
    How much upload bandwidth you're using for your stream at a given moment.
    At this point, anything and everything shown on your screen is being broadcast, live, to anyone who chooses to tune in.
    Do not show any sensitive information, such as banking, passwords, stream keys, etc. or they will be taken.

Stopping Stream

  1. When you are done streaming, select Stop Streaming in OBS to end your stream.
    OBS
    OBS Controls with Stop Streaming highlighted.
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