If you‘re wondering "Is OBS recording software really free to download and use on my Windows PC or Mac?" – the answer is a resounding YES!
OBS Studio is completely free and open source software for live streaming and screen recording.
There are no hidden charges, no watermarks, no features disabled. You get access to the full suite of professional-grade streaming and recording capabilities without paying a single cent!
Now let‘s dive into the details so you can start leveraging this awesome free tool to create great video content!
OBS Studio – The Go-To Free Stream Software
Developed by the OBS Project, OBS Studio (also known as Open Broadcaster Software) has become the free streaming software of choice for millions of content creators worldwide.
Gamers, vloggers, podcasters, educators and enterprises rely on OBS Studio for all their streaming and video recording needs.
According to the official OBS download page, over 32 million people have downloaded OBS! It has nearly 250,000 followers on Twitter and 100,000 members on Reddit.
There are several compelling reasons for OBS Studio‘s runaway popularity:
Completely Free and Open Source
Unlike many other stream tools, OBS Studio is 100% free for everyone to download and use. The source code is available on GitHub for anyone to access and contribute to.
Being open source means new features, improvements and bug fixes are contributed continuously by developers from around the world. This also helps ensure transparency, trust and no hidden telemetry or mining.
Available on Windows, Mac and Linux
You can run OBS Studio natively on Windows 7 and above, macOS 10.13 and above as well as all major Linux distros like Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian etc.
So whether you are a gamer with a tricked out PC, podcaster on a Macbook or enterprise trainer using Linux workstations – OBS has got you covered!
Packed with Professional Features
Despite being free, OBS Studio doesn‘t compromise on features. It gives you everything you need for professional live streaming and video recording:
- Multi-source scene mixing
- Transitions, overlays and chroma key
- Webcam, audio and screen capture
- Media files and browser sources
- Plugin ecosystem for extended functionality
- Simple to advanced settings for customization
The feature set rivals paid tools like XSplit and Wirecast costing $60 and up per year.
Active Community Support
With a flourishing community translating OBS Studio into dozens of languages and constantly improving documentation, tutorials and help resources – you can always find help to troubleshoot issues.
The active forums provide guidance for everything from beginner setup challenges to advanced multi-PC streaming configurations.
Performance Focused Design
OBS Studio is designed to be light on system resources. It can stream and record high quality HD video without needing a beastly PC, thanks to efficient coding and GPU offloaded encoding.
So whether you have an older gaming rig or a new laptop, OBS Studio will run smoothly and deliver great quality live or recorded content.
With these benefits, it‘s easy to see why OBS Studio is the tool of choice for first-time streamers as well seasoned professionals. And the best part is it‘s totally free!
Now that you know OBS Studio is legit free software, let‘s look at how to download and start using it.
How to Download and Install OBS on Windows PC
Getting started with OBS Studio on your Windows 10, 8 or 7 machine takes just a couple of minutes.
Step 1 – Go to the official OBS Studio Download Page and click the Windows button under the Installer column. This will download the latest Windows installer for OBS Studio.
Step 2 – Locate and run the downloaded OBS-Studio-XX.X.X-Full-Installer-x64.exe file.
Step 3 – Windows User Access Control may prompt you to confirm changes to the system. Click Yes to allow OBS Studio to install.
Step 4 – Accept the GNU GPL license agreement then continue to the install options.
Step 5 – Choose whether you want to install for all users or just yourself. The default install folder is fine for most cases.
Step 6 – Make sure both options – Install OBS Studio and Start OBS Studio are checked. Then click Next to begin installation.
Step 7 – Windows will now quickly install all the necessary OBS Studio files and folders. Once done, OBS Studio will directly launch on your desktop!
And that‘s it! OBS Studio is now ready to start streaming or recording right from your PC. The installer takes care of all dependencies so you don‘t have to install anything else separately.
Downloading OBS Studio on Mac
Using OBS on your Mac running macOS 10.13 High Sierra or above is also quick and straightforward:
Step 1 – Head to the OBS Download page and get the Mac installer under the MacOS column.
Step 2 – Open the downloaded OBS-Studio-XX.X.X-Installer.pkg and click Continue.
Step 3 – Proceed with the on-screen instructions, accepting the license agreement and install path.
Step 4 – Enter your macOS user account password when prompted to provide admin access.
Step 5 – Once installation completes, OBS Studio will be available in your Applications folder and you can begin streaming!
The Mac version has feature parity with Windows and Linux. You get access to all the same capabilities of OBS Studio on a Mac free of charge.
Installing OBS Studio on Linux
OBS Studio is right at home on Linux, being open source software. It‘s available in the official repositories for most Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora etc.
To install OBS on Ubuntu or Debian, just open the Terminal and enter:
sudo apt update sudo apt install obs-studio
For RPM distros like Fedora, use the following instead:
sudo dnf check-updates sudo dnf install obs-studio
That grabs the latest OBS Studio package for your distro from the repositories and sets it up. You may also need to install some extra dependencies for app capturing and browser sources:
sudo apt install v4l2loopback-dkms ffmpeg xdg-utils sudo dnf install v4l2loopback-dkms ffmpeg xdg-utils
Once done, you can launch OBS Studio directly from the apps menu. It integrates seamlessly into the Linux desktop environment.
Alternatively, you can download the Linux installer from the OBS website and install it manually if needed.
What Can You Do for Free with OBS Studio?
Now that OBS is installed and ready to use, what streaming and recording features do you get access to for free? A lot actually!
Stream to Twitch, YouTube and More
Go live to Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and 40+ streaming platforms with just a couple clicks. Add your stream key and start broadcasting!
For Twitch streaming, make sure to:
Get your Twitch Stream Key from the Dashboard
Add it as a Streaming Service in OBS Settings
Click to Connect Account and Authenticate
You can even stream simultaneously to multiple platforms like Twitch + YouTube for expanded reach.
Record Your Screen in HD Quality
Capturing gameplay footage, vlogs, how to guides and other videos is super simple with OBS Studio‘s built-in recording capabilities.
Just set your desired video and audio formats and quality under Output Settings. Then click the Record button to save local files without limits.
OBS Studio lets you record your desktop, applications and webcam in resolutions up to 4K UHD. You can directly upload recordings to YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Audio Mixing with Multiple Sources
Not just video – OBS Studio helps you mix audio from various sources:
- Capture Desktop Audio for gameplay, music and video clips
- Mic and Aux input for commentary, singing, instruments
- Browser Audio for web videos, Spotify streaming
- Audio Files for sound clips, stings, theme music
Add VST Plugins for filters, effects and virtual instruments. Balance relative levels and boost sound quality.
Chroma Key Green Screen Effects
With the high quality Chroma Key filter in OBS Studio, you can overlay your webcam, smartphone or external camera feed over your background seamlessly.
Just set up some green backdrop, configure the chroma key filter properties like threshold, smoothing and color to remove the green spill. Adjust until the background fully blends with your scene behind it.
Media Files, Images, Text and Browser Sources
Enrich your scenes with additional visual elements:
- Images and GIFs – Add your logos, banners, illustrations & animations
- Videos – Play animated intros, intermission filler videos, play alerts
- Browser – Embed web pages, tools, charts, dashboards
- Text – Overlay labels, titles, scrolling text tickers, alerts
OBS makes it easy to quickly add these media sources to your existing camera and screen captures.
Transitions, Overlays, Alerts & More
Add professional touches by customizing:
- Transitions like cuts, fades, wipes, slides for switching between scenes
- Overlays with graphics, borders, lights and flourishes
- Alerts for follows, subs, raids, cheers and tips
- Animated Stingers to spice up your stream!
And countless more customizations via hundreds of free plugins contributed by the amazing OBS community.
As you can see, OBS Studio provides a full production studio for creating incredible live and on-demand video content without needing expensive subscriptions or equipment.
Performance Requirements for OBS Studio
"How powerful does my PC or Mac need to be to run OBS smoothly?" – is a common question asked by new streamers.
The good news is OBS Studio is designed to be light on system resources, so you can start streaming and recording even without a high-end machine.
Here are the approximate CPU, GPU and RAM specs recommended by OBS for different quality settings:
For 720p 30fps streaming/recording:
- CPU: Intel i3 / AMD FX-4000 series quad core
- GPU – NVIDIA GTX 600 series / AMD Radeon HD 7000 series
- RAM: Minimum 4GB
For 1080p 60fps streaming/recording:
- CPU: Intel i5 / AMD Ryzen 5 or greater
- GPU: NVIDIA GTX 10-series / AMD RX 500-series
- RAM: 8GB minimum
For the best performance when gaming + streaming simultaneously, use at least:
- CPU: Intel i7 / AMD Ryzen 7
- GPU: NVIDIA RTX 2060 or better
- RAM: 16GB
Here are some tips to get smooth OBS performance even on lower spec systems:
- Use a hardware encoder like NVENC on Nvidia GPUs to offload encoding from CPU
- Reduce video resolution and frame rates like 720p 30fps if needed
- Lower encoder CPU usage preset in Output settings but this impacts quality
- Disable resource heavy sources and effects you don‘t need
- Close other apps when recording/streaming to conserve RAM and CPU
With some testing and tweaks, you can get perfectly usable recordings and live streams even with a relatively modest PC. OBS optimizations and community guides help you get the most out of your system.
Comparing OBS Studio with Popular Paid Alternatives
While OBS Studio covers the basics for new streamers, you may be wondering how it stacks up against paid alternatives like Streamlabs OBS and Wirecast that cost $150-$500 per year.
Here are some of the key advantages premium tools like Streamlabs OBS and Wirecast have over completely free OBS Studio:
More Polished Interfaces
The UI for OBS Studio is very usable but looks dated compared to sleek modern interfaces of Streamlabs OBS and Wirecast. These tools are more accessible for non-technical folks.
Advanced Audio Mixing
Built-in audio ducking, equalizers, noise cancellation and multi-track audio for sound effects, music make mixing easier.
Instant Replay & Highlights
Mark exciting moments in game streams and quickly replay the last 30 seconds or more with a key bind.
2 PC Streaming Support
Dedicated encoding and streaming PC capabilities to add overlays, switching and recording to a gaming rig.
Direct Editor Integration
Send recordings directly into video editors like Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro for instant post production.
Uncapped Recording Frame Rate
OBS Studio limits recordings to 60fps while Streamlabs and Wirecast can record gameplay up to 240fps.
24/7 Customer Support
Get access to email, chat and phone support when issues arise or you just need someone to help optimize settings.
Integrated Features & Tools
Inbuilt widgets, alerts, gent notifications and detailed analytics within the interface rather than needing plugins.
However, for most casual streamers and YouTubers, OBS Studio has all the core functionality covered. The open source community also fills many gaps via plugins.
I‘d recommend starting with OBS Studio since it‘s free. Once you start hitting limitations, look into paid tools for a more polished experience. For example, Streamlabs OBS Pro costs $174 per year.
Finding Help with OBS Studio
The OBS Project community provides phenomenal guides, tutorials, documentation and forums covering all aspects of the software. So don‘t be afraid to dive in as a beginner!
Here are some great OBS Studio learning resources:
Official OBS Studio Documentation – In-depth guides on setup, streaming, recording, troubleshooting and everything in between.
OBS SubReddit. – Active community of over 100k users discussing OBS help, tutorials, plugins and news.
OBS Forums – Get help with specific issues during install and setup. The forums have an extensive searchable knowledge base.
Discord Server – Live chat with experienced OBS users and developers. Great for real-time troubleshooting.
YouTube Tutorials – Tons of video guides on using OBS for beginners and advanced scenarios.
With these resources plus the excellent official documentation, you‘ll be able to troubleshoot any issues and customize your setup.
If you made it this far, hopefully you now have a good overview of OBS Studio‘s capabilities and value as a free and open source stream production studio.
Let‘s recap some key points:
OBS Studio is 100% free on Windows, Mac and Linux PCs with no limits or watermarks.
You get full access to professional streaming and recording features.
Capable of high quality, multi-source broadcasts.
Huge community resource for guides, plugins, updates etc.
Performance focused design works great even on mid-range PCs.
So if you want to get started with live streaming your gameplay, vlogs, music and more with no upfront investment, definitely try OBS Studio!
It provides an incredible amount of value for zero cost. Once you grasp the basics, you can produce broadcasts rivaling paid software costing over $150 per year.
Go ahead and download OBS Studio to get going with streaming and recording. The community is here to help you through each step.
Looking forward to seeing you go live on Twitch or produce awesome videos on YouTube all for free with OBS. Now go out there, make some content and start building your audience!