Mastering your OBS stream key… It’s an essential skill for many livestreamers—and one of the earliest challenges beginners will face.
Stream keys are especially important if you’re using OBS Studio. They’re also critical for Facebook Gaming creators (not to mention Twitter, Trovo or multistreaming). Some basic stream key knowledge can be a lifesaver, even if you’re on Twitch, YouTube, or using Streamlabs.
But your stream key can be confusing, especially for new broadcasters. First there’s finding it. Then you have to figure out where to put your stream key in OBS. Then there’s adjusting settings and servers — not to mention safeguarding your key from others.
Don’t get overwhelmed, it’s easier than you may think. We’ll have you streaming in no time.
But first, we’re going to show you:
- What stream keys are (and who needs them)
- How to find them on YouTube, Facebook Gaming and Twitch
- How to add your stream key to OBS Studio and Streamlabs OBS
- Plus tips for protecting your keys, optimizing settings, servers and more
Once you’ve mastered the OBS stream key, you’re nearly ready to hit that “Start Streaming” button. Let’s get you prepped for your first big stream.
OBS stream keys, explained
In simple terms, a stream key is a string of letters and numbers—unique to your streaming channel. Every channel has one, and no two are the same.
When you input your stream key to OBS, your channel and broadcasting software become connected, or linked. It’s how the two platforms ‘talk’ to each other. That way, when you click the “Start Streaming” button on OBS, you’ll also automatically go live to YouTube or Facebook Gaming—or wherever you’re trying to broadcast.
Back in the day, manually copying-and-pasting your stream key was the only way to connect to OBS. That changed in 2019, when OBS Studio added a “connect account” feature for Twitch streamers. This meant you could log into your Twitch account directly from OBS, instantly connecting the two. No more hunting around in your dashboard or settings — OBS would automatically pull your stream key for you. In a single click, your Twitch and OBS accounts were linked.
Two years later, OBS Studio expanded the feature—and much more—to YouTube. For most YouTube creators, copy-pasting stream keys was now a thing of the past.
Suddenly the stream key didn’t feel so important anymore.
Who needs a stream key?
Unfortunately, OBS Studio hasn’t yet rolled out its “connect account” feature to many streaming platforms. Until it does, streamers on Facebook Gaming will need to do things the old fashioned way — by copy-pasting their stream key into the OBS dashboard.
Of course, the same goes if you’re livestreaming on non-traditional platforms. That includes Twitter, YouNow and even newcomer, Chinese-owned Trovo. These creators will all need to manually insert their OBS stream keys.
If you’re using Streamlabs or StreamElements, chances are you don’t need to worry about stream keys. Both platforms allow users to quickly and easily connect their streaming channels. Users can log in directly to Twitch, YouTube or Facebook — without the need for stream keys.
One exception is Restream, the popular multistreaming tool. Streamlabs OBS does not currently have a “connect account” feature for Restream. “SLOBS” users will need to manually insert their Restream key into the software.
Why else would I need a stream key?
There are other reasons you may need to locate your key, not related to your OBS software.
For one, not everyone is comfortable sharing their account information across platforms. Some may be wary to offer their data to OBS or Streamlabs — even if integrations like these have been proven secure. For these people, online privacy trumps the convenience factor.
In this case, you’ll need to learn how to manually input your OBS stream key.
Errors can happen too. For one reason or another, some may not be able to connect their channels — despite troubleshooting. These creators have no choice but to do things the old fashioned way.
So let’s learn how.
Where to find your stream key
Each streaming platform treats stream keys a bit differently. Navigating through dashboards can be frustrating. Let’s find out where your stream key is located, starting with…
Stream keys on Twitch are pretty basic. You’ll have a single, reusable key — which means you need to take extra care to safeguard it!
At the moment, it’s not possible to retrieve your key from a mobile device. You’ll need to be logged in from a desktop browser.
- Head over to Twitch. Click your profile picture in the top-right corner, then select “Creator Dashboard”.
- On the left menu, click on “Settings” to reveal a drop-down menu. Now, select “Stream”.
- At the top you’ll see “Primary Stream key”, which is hidden by default. Click the “Copy” button.
Now your stream key is ready to be pasted into OBS!
Facebook offers more flexibility when it comes to stream keys. In the past, Facebook Gaming changed your stream key every time you went live. This provided extra security, but meant you had to repeatedly copy-paste your key into OBS.
Eventually Facebook (wisely) changed the default option to a single, “persistent” stream key. That means you only have to paste it into your OBS encoder once — making things a lot easier. (You can always switch back to unique stream keys, if you’d prefer the extra layer of security.)
For now, let’s locate your Facebook Gaming stream key from a desktop browser:
- Make sure you’re logged into your Facebook Gaming profile, not your personal account.
- Visit the Live Producer dashboard. There are multiple ways to do this. From your home feed or profile page, you can scroll to the top and click the red “Live Video” icon. Or you can just go to facebook.com/live/producer.
- Select the red “Go Live” option.
- Locate the “Select a video source” section in the top-right. By default, “Webcam” is selected. Since we’re using OBS, select “Streaming Software” instead.
- Just below, in the “Streaming Software Setup” section, click “Advanced Settings” to reveal more stream options. Make sure that “Persistent Stream Key” is turned on, or blue.
- You’ll find your stream key just above. Click the “Copy” button.
Now you’re ready to jump back into OBS!
YouTube Gaming / YouTube Live
YouTube’s stream key manager is by far the most powerful (and complex).
By default, your channel will be assigned a single, “persistent” stream key. But you can also custom-create stream keys, which is super useful for hosting live events — and even running multiple, simultaneous livestreams from the same channel!
For most creators though, all you need is your channel’s primary, reusable stream key. Let’s find out how to locate your YouTube stream key for OBS.
(Note, if this is your first time livestreaming on YouTube, you may not be able to immediately access your stream key. First, you’ll first need to enable live content for your channel. This requires a quick verification, plus a 24-hour waiting-period to activate your account.)
- Click the red “Create” icon in the top right, then select “Go Live” to visit the Live Control Room.
- Select the top option, “Right now”.
- Pick your stream type. Since we’re using OBS, choose “Streaming software”.
- From the next window, make sure the “Stream Settings” tab is selected. Just below, locate the “Stream Key” section.
- In the “Select stream key” field, make sure to pick “Default stream key (RTMP, Variable)”.
- You’ll see your stream key just below—which is hidden by default. Click the “Copy” button.
Now let’s switch over to OBS.
Where to put your stream key in OBS
You’ve got your stream key, now let’s plug it into your streaming software. We’ll start with OBS Studio, then briefly run through Streamlabs OBS.
The OBS Studio dashboard can a bit confusing at first. Here’s how to navigate to your stream key settings:
- Locate the “Controls” dock, then select “Settings”. Alternatively, you can click “File” in the top-left corner, then select “Settings” from the dropdown.
- In the left sidebar, click “Stream”.
- Click the top “Service” dropdown and select your streaming platform — “Twitch”, “Facebook Live” or “YouTube – RTMPS”. (If your platform isn’t listed, click the “Show All…” option for a more detailed list.)
- If you’re streaming to Twitch or YouTube, select the “Use Stream Key” button.
- For now, leave the “Server” field as-is. Later, we’ll show you how to change this, if you’d like. But most streamers will want to use their platform’s default server option.
- Paste your key into the “Stream Key” field, click “Apply” then “OK”.
Note, if you’re using StreamElements’ free plugin, OBS.Live, the process is identical to traditional OBS Studio. Follow the steps above and you’re ready to go!
Manually-inserting your stream key into SLOBS? Here’s how to set up your Streamlabs OBS stream keys:
- From the lower-left menu, click the “Settings” gear icon.
- Select “Stream” from the side-menu.
- At the bottom of the next window, click “Stream to custom ingest”.
- From the “Service” dropdown, select either “Twitch”, “Facebook Live” or “YouTube – RTMPS”. (If your service isn’t listed, check the “Show all services” option to view the complete list).
- Keep the default “Server” option for now. We’ll explain this setting later. Chances are though, the default option is your best bet—no matter where you’re streaming.
- Paste your key into the “Stream Key” field, then click the “Done” button.
Now your channel is officially linked to Streamlabs OBS. Congrats, you’re ready to go live!
OBS Stream key tips and tricks
It’s not enough just to locate your stream key. For starters, you’ll want to safeguard your key. You may also want to try tweaking some of your key settings, to improve stream performance. That’s why we’ve prepared a short-list of our top stream key takeaways.
Starting with the single most important rule of stream keys.
Keep your OBS stream key close.
NEVER share your stream key with anyone. Using your key, a stranger could hijack your channel and start streaming from it! That puts your channel at risk of suspension, ban, sponsorship loss and more.
Seriously, protect your stream key at all cost. If, for some reason, you have to visit your stream dashboard while live, always make sure your stream key is hidden (it should be by default).
In fact, there’s really no reason to ever click the “Show” button next to your stream key. All you’re doing is putting your key at risk—whether you’re streaming or not. Especially when all that’s needed is a simple copy-paste.
Which leads us to our next tip…
When in doubt, reset your stream key.
If you think your key may have been exposed, don’t take the chance. Reset your key.
Doing so is quick and easy. First, locate your stream key in Twitch, Facebook Gaming or YouTube. Next to your key, you’ll see a “Reset” button. Click it. Then just re-paste your new key into OBS Studio or Streamlabs. And you’re done!
There’s no limit to the number of times you can reset your stream key. Don’t risk it — when in doubt, click that “Reset” button.
Select the right Twitch server.
Twitch streamers will want to pay close attention to the “server” option — in both OBS and Streamlabs.
You’ll almost always want to pick the “ingest” server closest to you. Generally, the closer you are to a server, the better broadcast performance you’ll see — as in, fewer dropped frames and a more stable connection.
In theory, the default “Auto (Recommended)” does this automatically, picking the best server based on your location. In most cases, this is true. OBS does a pretty good job matching your location to nearby ingest options.
However, it’s not perfect. Take a quick look at your default server selection—and see what else is available nearby. After all, there may be an alternative server, having a similar distance but a lower ping timing. We recommend running a quick bandwidth test to find the best Twitch server for your location (and internet provider).
Just connect your account, where possible.
Why bother with stream keys—and risk them getting into the wrong hands—if you don’t have to?
If your OBS software has a “connect account” feature, we’d recommend using it. Most Streamlabs users should really never have to touch their stream keys. The same goes for Twitch or YouTube streamers using OBS Studio. There’s just no need, unless you’ve encountered an error or are running advanced broadcast events.
In fact, these integrations are proven to be more secure than manually managing your stream keys. That’s why your OBS software will always—by default—recommend account connection, when it’s available.
Just know that if you forgo this option, you’re taking your online safety into your own hands.
The days of manually copy-pasting OBS stream keys may soon be over.
Likely, it won’t be long before OBS Studio extends its “connect account” feature to other major platforms, including Facebook Gaming. When that happens, many new creators may not even know that stream keys exist!
Until then, keep your keys close and hidden.
Of course, if you encounter any issues along the way, our support team is here to help.
December 9, 2020
Transition Matrix OBS Guide 2021
Ever wanted to use multiple stinger transitions on-stream? Wonder how the pros do it without breaking a sweat? Chances are, […]
September 19, 2021
Royalty Free Music For Twitch – Our Top Picks
Finding copyright free music for Twitch can be tricky. Doing your own research is overwhelming. But it’s more important now […]
June 25, 2020
Stream Design 101: A Beginner’s Guide
New to streaming? You’ve probably got a million questions. “How do my PC specs hold up?” “Which broadcasting software should […]