How to Stream on Twitch: Everything You Need

by | Edited by Cara Haynes | Oct 7, 2019 | Equipment Guides, FAQ, Gaming

With over 1.2 million average viewers at a time, the streaming platform Twitch has exploded in popularity among gamers and creatives over the last few years. And that popularity is only growing.

If you’re itching to get in on the action, you may be wondering how to get started. We don’t blame you. Not only is streaming your games on Twitch fun, but it’s also a great way to earn a little money (or a lot if you’re good at it).

How to start streaming on Twitch

The exact process for getting set up on Twitch varies a little depending on whether you’re streaming on a PC, PlayStation 4, or Xbox. We’ll walk through each system, showing you exactly what you need to get started.

First, create a Twitch account

Twitch homescreen

The first thing you should do, regardless of platform, is create your Twitch account. Don’t fret—creating a Twitch account is super easy. You’ll use your account to log in to the Twitch app on each platform and upload your streams.

To create your account, just follow these three steps:

  1. Visit the Twitch site.
  2. Click Sign Up in the top right corner.
  3. Enter the requested info.

You might have to enable two-factor authorization to upload content—this security feature sends a one-time code to your phone to make sure it’s actually you logging in.

Twitch login

Set up your devices.

Once you’ve got your account created, you’re ready to set up your devices for streaming.

Twitch on PC

  1. Install XSplit Gamecaster. To stream on PC, you need an additional streaming program that plugs into Twitch. XSplit is one of the easiest and most popular options. First, download XSplit Gamecaster. The free account will get you started, but for the best quality stream, you’ll want the paid version, which is $5 per month.
  2. Launch the XSplit app.
  3. Launch the game you want to stream.
  4. Press Ctrl + Tab to open the XSplit overlay. This brings up XSplit options on top of the game you’re playing, which is very handy.
  5. Click the Stream button. You’ll be prompted to log in to your Twitch account the first time you stream.

Twitch on PS4

  1. Launch the game you want to stream.
  2. Press the Share button on your controller.
  3. Select Broadcast Gameplay.
  4. Select Twitch. You’ll be prompted to log in to your Twitch account the first time you try to stream.

Twitch on Xbox One

  1. Download the Twitch app on your Xbox.
  2. Log in to your Twitch account.
  3. Launch the game you want to stream.
  4. Open the Twitch app.
  5. Select Broadcast from the menu.

What you need to stream on Twitch

A gaming system

Obviously, you’ll need a good gaming system. The platforms that support Twitch in the most straightforward way are PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

You can stream from a Mac, but Macs are typically not recommended for gaming. If you already have one, great! It’ll work. But if you’re buying a new computer for gaming, a Windows PC will offer both a much broader range of games as well as the possibility for better gaming performance at a lower price.

When choosing a PC for gaming, we strongly recommend one with a dedicated video card (usually Nvidia). Intel-integrated graphics are ok in a pinch, but a dedicated card will provide noticeably better performance and graphics. Check out our recommendations for the best graphics cards.

Pro tip: If you plan on using a computer to stream on Twitch, here are our picks for the best gaming PCs and gaming laptops.

Fast, reliable internet service

The second basic requirement is a stable internet connection. For streaming in high definition (720p or greater), you’ll want an upload speed of at least 3.5 Mbps.

Upload speeds can be tricky to find because most internet plans are advertised by download speed. You may need to check the fine print for your plan to find the upload speed. In general, faster download speeds mean faster upload speeds. Slower speeds will reduce the quality of your stream, making it more likely for viewers to bounce.

A good router

When it comes to internet performance, a good router can be just as important as your connection speed. Look for a router that is rated for at least the same speed as your connection so you get the most from your service.

There’s more to a router than just raw speed though. A device with strong antennas, advanced features like MU-MIMO support, and a powerful processor will make your connection more efficient and reduce the likelihood of other online activities interfering with your streaming.

There are a lot of good routers out there, but we have a few favorites we recommend for optimal gaming performance:

Streaming software for PC

On a PC, you need third-party streaming software to produce your streams and upload them to Twitch. Two of the most popular are XSplit and OBS. We covered XSplit in this guide, but either software will work just fine, so it really comes down to personal preference.

OBS stands for Open Broadcaster Software. It’s an open-source software, so there are actually several different versions available. You can find several choices in your Twitch settings under Streaming Tools.

Twitch applications screen

A webcam

This one is optional, but it can really help personalize your streams. If you want to broadcast your reactions to the game you’re playing, you’ll need a webcam. Choosing a webcam mostly comes down to finding a good mix of quality and price. We’ve got a few recommendations:

Tips for better streaming

Stick to a schedule.

If you’re trying to attract viewers, giving them a consistent schedule is a great way to start. This will allow regulars to plan their activities around when you’ll be online. And if they like you, they’ll know when they can catch you again.

Be an entertainer.

Don’t just sit and play in silence. There’s a lot of competition for views on Twitch, so make sure you’re engaging with your audience. Tell some jokes, respond to comments, and let your personality show. Give it your own personal stamp.

Choose your game wisely.

If attracting viewers is your goal, you need to choose a game that Twitch isn’t already saturated with. Games like League of Legends, Fortnite, and Minecraft may not be the best choice simply because there are already so many competing streams.

A smarter way to get views is to choose a less popular title that still has an active community. Once you’ve built a following, you can branch out to other games with a higher chance of success.

FAQ about Twitch streaming

What is Twitch?

Twitch is a livestreaming platform where gamers can stream themselves playing games for others to watch. Twitch is still mostly known for gaming, but it has expanded since its creation in 2011 to feature art, music, and other streamed content as well.

Why stream on Twitch?

There are a lot of reasons to stream on Twitch. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Interact with others in the gaming community.
  • Share accomplishments and get support.
  • Entertain others.
  • Make money. Streamers can apply for the Twitch Partner Program, which earns both Twitch and the streamer income based on the number of subscribers your channel has.

Is Twitch safe for kids?

How safe Twitch is for kids is a complex topic. Twitch, like any other part of the internet, has its dark side. Some streamers are more explicit in what content they produce than others. And since chat is streamed live along with the game stream, inappropriate comments can pop up at any time.

Additionally, not every streamer is online to share video game footage—there are occasional lewd streams and channels that pop up, though Twitch has attempted to crack down on these.

Here are some tips to help minimize the risks:

  • Keep an eye on the channels your kids subscribe to.
  • Talk to your children about the types of comments and messages that are appropriate, and encourage them to inform you if anyone is harassing them.
  • Supervise Twitch time with preteens.

Which gaming system do I need for Twitch?

For the best experience streaming with Twitch, you’ll want a PC, Xbox One, or PlayStation 4.

Which games can I stream on Twitch?

There are hundreds of games you can stream on Twitch. Some of the most popular titles include Fortnite, Hearthstone, League of Legends, and Overwatch. Twitch has a list of prohibited games—beyond that, pretty much anything is up for streaming.

Is your internet connection too glitchy to stream? Enter your ZIP code below to see faster plans in your area.

About the Author

Dave has written professionally for tech companies and consumer technology sites for nearly five years, with a special focus on TV and internet. He uses his industry expertise to help readers at HighSpeedInternet.com get the most out of their services. No matter the project, he prefers his coffee black (the stronger, the better).

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