January 21, 2022

How to Record a Screen with OBS

13 min

8 385

OBS – or Open Broadcaster Software – is one of the most popular programs available to help users record videos from their computer screen. This article can serve as your ultimate tutorial on how to record a screen with OBS.

Comparison parameter

OBS Studio

Movavi Screen Recorder

Performance High-performance software that can be used to record anything on your computer screen Performs flawlessly and anyone can use it upon installation
Customization Interface is customizable Customization options geared toward recordings over an interface
Features Multiple source capture and configuration, audio mixer, custom transitions, modular dock UI Multi-source capture, draw on videos, capture keystrokes and mouse, recording scheduler
Sound and video quality High-quality output Also offers professional-level output
Price Free $37.95 annual subscription or $52.95 lifetime use on 1 PC – also offers a free trial version
Ease of use Most consider OBS to have a very steep learning curve and geared toward advanced users only Beginner and advanced users can use it immediately
OS Windows, Mac, Linux Windows and Mac
Review

G2 rating

4.6 out of 5 stars, 94 reviews

G2 rating

4.5 out of 5 stars, 48 reviews

If you need an alternative to OBS, our special pick is Movavi Screen Recorder. The program can help beginners and advanced users to capture screen recordings with ease. It gives you the ability to record from multiple sources, screencast, show keystrokes and mouse movements, and a lot more.

How to use OBS Studio to record a screen on a PC

To screen record with OBS, you’ll need to download and install the program from the official OBS site. The program runs on Windows 8.1, Windows 10, or Windows 11. So as long as you have a relatively new PC, you should be fine. Just be sure to specify that you want to use the program for screen recording when installing the program.

Step 1. Install OBS Studio

Follow the link below to download the program and install it.

Download OBS Studio

Once you’ve downloaded and installed the program, follow these steps to learn how to record using OBS.

Step 2. Launch the program

Open the program however you like – icon, start menu, search. Upon opening, OBS should auto-add a Scene into the interface. But if it doesn’t, simply click on the + icon. You’ll find it within the box that reads Scenes on the bottom left corner of the screen.

Step 3. Specify the settings

Look next to the Scenes box, and you should see the Sources box. Click the + at the bottom left of the Sources box. A menu of options should appear. Click Display Capture. In the pop-up window, create a title and click OK.

Step 4. Choose the capture method

In the next pop-up window, you’ll have options to select your display method and capture method and a check-box to select whether you want to show your cursor on the recording. If you’re using multiple monitors, be sure to click the down-arrow and select the appropriate display from the drop-down menu. When you’ve finished, click OK.

Step 5. Select the output folder

Click Settings on the bottom right of your screen. In the new window, click the Output icon in the menu on the left. In the Recording box, you need to choose your destination file under Recording Path. To do this, click Browse and select a destination.

Step 6. Start recording

Once you’ve made all of your selections, click the Start Recording button on the OBS Studio record screen. It’s the icon on the lower right side of your screen below Start Streaming.

How to use OBS to record a screen and audio on a Mac

MacOS 10.13 is the current oldest compatible version that works with OBS Studio. Be sure that your Mac meets the requirements, and then download and install OBS.

Download OBS Studio for a Mac

Once you’ve installed the program, the steps for how to make OBS record your screen on a Mac are identical to Windows. But here’s a shortened version of the section above to set up OBS for recording.

Step 1. Specify the settings

Locate the Sources box at the bottom of your screen and click the + icon. From the options menu, select Display Capture and click OK.

Step 2. Choose the output folder

Click Settings on the bottom right and then Output from the sidebar. In this menu, use the Browse button next to Recording Path to choose a destination folder.

Step 3. Record your screen

Click Start Recording on the lower right side of the interface.

How to record using OBS Studio on Linux

To use OBS screen recorder on Linux, there are two requirements:

  1. You must run Ubuntu 18.05 or higher.
  2. You have to install the FFmpeg video filter.

With those two requirements met, you can download and install OBS Studio screen recording software from the official site.

Download OBS Studio for Linux

After that, the steps to record a desktop or any video source are basically the same as Windows or Mac, with one small exception.

Step 1. Specify the recording settings

Open OBS and then locate the Sources box at the bottom. Click the + icon at the bottom of the box and an options menu will appear. Select Screen Capture from the menu. Screen Capture instead of Display Capture is the key difference from Windows or Mac.

In the pop-up menu, select OK. And if you have multiple monitors, be sure to pick the one you want to record.

Step 2. Choose the output folder

Click the Settings icon on the bottom right and choose Output from the sidebar menu. Next to Recording Path either type one or click Browse to choose a destination for the saved file.

Step 3. Record the screen

Click the Start Recording button on the bottom right of the interface.

How to record a mobile device screen using a screen recorder from OBS

There is no mobile application or mobile version of OBS available yet. Many newer smartphones already have screen recording software built into their OS, so there isn’t much need.

But if you absolutely want to use the screen recorder from OBS on your mobile phone, there is a workaround. But you’ll need a cable to connect your phone to a computer. The lightning connector on the iPhone is standard. And if you have an Android device, you’ll need whichever connector your phone uses – typically USB-C or USB Micro-B.

With the cable ready, follow these steps:

iPhone

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC with a lightning cable.
  2. Open OBS and locate the Sources box at the bottom of the display.
  3. Click the + icon at the bottom of the box and choose Video Capture Device from the menu.
  4. Within the pop-up menu that appears, check the circle that says Create New. Then click OK.
  5. Another window should appear. Next to Devices click the down arrow to open a drop-down list and choose your iPhone. If it isn’t there, check your connection and re-open the menu to see if it shows up.
  6. When your iPhone screen displays on the interface, simply click the Start Recording button to record.

Android device

There is literally no difference in the steps between an iPhone or an Android device for recording your screen with OBS. Follow the steps above to get things moving. The only difference is that you’ll use a different cable to connect to your computer and select your Android device from the drop-down menu next to Devices.

Again, there are no applications or mobile versions of OBS, so it’s not the best method of capturing your mobile phone’s display. In fact, capturing the screen this way is known to be glitchy because you’re running the recording through a cable.

If your mobile device doesn’t come with screen recording software, it’s best to look through the Apple or Google Play store to find an alternative application. There are plenty of applications designed for mobile screen recording in both marketplaces.

How to record system sound in OBS

Setting up OBS to record internal audio is relatively easy. Follow these steps to get it going:

Windows

  1. Open OBS, and within the Sources box, click the + icon to add a new source.
  2. Select Audio Output Capture from the menu.
  3. A pop-up menu will appear. Choose a name or leave it as-is and then click OK.
  4. In the next menu, click the drop-down menu next to Default. Then, choose the default audio output device you use on your computer, or whichever you’re using. Click OK and you’re done!

Note: If you’re able to view the meters moving for your audio but can’t hear anything, it may be necessary to use a Multi-Output Audio Device or a monitoring system.

Mac

Mac is a little different from Windows. You must first download a program called Blackhole. It’s a set of drivers that allows you to push your audio to other applications with no latency issues.

Once you’ve downloaded Blackhole, open the Audio MIDI Setup application on your Mac. You can either search for it in the search bar or go to Applications > Utilities > Audio/MIDI Setup. From here, you must create a new Multi-Output device that has both Blackhole and your audio output.

After you’ve set this up, follow the same steps as in the Windows section above. Only you’ll select the Multi-Output device you created.

Double-check OBS is receiving the audio by monitoring the meter on the audio mixer. It’s essential that the meter doesn’t move into the red. Otherwise, your audio will definitely come out distorted in your recording.

Once all this is set up, the sounds that would typically come out of your speaker will now record to your video.

How to record a microphone in OBS

Recording from a microphone is a little easier than internal audio. The same process works for both Windows and Mac, so just follow these steps:

  1. Open OBS and click the + icon in the Sources box at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Choose Audio Input Capture from the menu that appears.
  3. A pop-up menu will appear. Name your source or leave it and then click OK.
  4. Click the drop-down menu next to Device and select your desired microphone from the menu.

Within the Audio Mixer box, you’ll see a new channel appear. You can monitor these meters to set your recording levels.

Note that with this method, your microphone audio will record directly to the video file and all audio sources will go into a stereo audio track within the video file that outputs.

If you want to do advanced-level audio mixing, right-click on the audio mixer and then select Advanced Audio Properties from the menu that appears.

Where do OBS recordings go?

When you finish recording, OBS defaults the output to your default Video folder on Windows or Mac. To reveal the location, simply click File and then Show Recordings from the menu.

However, your files don’t have to go to the default Video folder, and it’s pretty easy to choose a custom location. Follow these steps:

  1. Click the Settings icon at the bottom right of the interface.
  2. Choose the Output tab on the sidebar on the left.
  3. Under the Recording box, you'll see Recording Path. Type or paste your file destination there or click Browse and select your desired folder.

Once your recording is complete, the files will route to that folder. You can use the same File > Show Recordings process to open the folder.

If you’re having difficulty playing your recording, you may need to check your output format – MP4, MPV, or MKV, for example. If it isn’t your desired format, don’t worry. Simply click File and then Remux Recording. Select your file and then choose a better format for remux.

Summary

With this guide, you now know the basics about how to use OBS to record a screen and audio. As stated, many reviewers have spoken about the software’s high learning curve.

If you’re looking for a solid alternative that’s easy-to-use for beginners and advanced users alike, Movavi Screen Recorder is an excellent choice. Though it’s not meant for gaming recording, it’s a superb option for residential, educational, and commercial use.

Frequently asked questions

How do I record my screen with OBS?

In the sections above, you’ll find detailed instructions on how to record your screen with OBS on Windows, Mac, Linux, and mobile devices. But here’s a shortened step-by-step version of what you’ll see above.

  1. Open OBS and click the plus sign in the Sources section.
  2. Choose a name for the source and click OK.
  3. Choose a display and capture method and then OK again.
  4. If you don’t want to use the default file destination source, click Settings and then Output. Then choose another destination folder next to Recording Path.
  5. Click Start Recording.

Why is OBS recording a black screen?

Many people have reported this issue, so don’t feel you’re the only one. This issue mainly comes up for Windows users and computer systems where two graphics options – typically dedicated and integrated – are available. However, there is a wide range of possibilities. Below is a list of the most common causes for a black screen with OBS.

  1. You’re not running the right version of OBS

    Check to see if you’re running the 32 or 64-bit version of OBS. If your computer processor doesn’t match, this could cause an issue.

  2. OBS doesn’t have administrator rights

    OBS shares your screen when streaming and any content you bring up on your desktop. So if it doesn’t have the proper administrator privileges, it may not record properly.

  3. You don’t have the right GPU selected for what you’re recording

    If you have a dedicated graphics card for gaming and another for the monitor. You must select the correct GPU for what you want to record.

  4. You haven’t enabled Multi-adapter capability

    If you’re using SLI/Crossfire technology with two graphics cards and don’t have this enabled, it may cause a black screen recording.

  5. You’re running conflicting software

    Many users don’t realize they’re running software in the background that also deals in video recording or screen capture. It’s a good idea to check and see if any third-party applications are causing the issue and delete or disable them.

How do I set up OBS for recording?

There are three general scenarios for recording with OBS. Check your recording scenario and review the bullets below to ensure you have a good setup.

Gaming

  • Open your capture settings and select Game Capture from the menu. The program takes care of the rest!
  • If you won’t be playing in full-screen but still want to capture the gaming window, set the Base (Canvas) Resolution as the same as the dimensions of the window.
  • To set up an audio-only recording session, set the audio to Desktop Audio. But you can also select the Mic Audio options and configure it to include narration.

Online conference or lecture

  • Set the video capture options to Display Capture.
  • Then adjust the Base (Canvas) Resolution to match your window.
  • Open Audio Settings. If you’re recording yourself as the presenter, then select your mic from Mic Audio for the best sound. If you’re recording a speaker, then select Desktop Audio.

Low-end computers

  • To create the best video possible with a low-end computer, go to the Settings menu and reduce the resolution – 16:9, 720p, or down to 480p.
  • If you’re recording gaming, you’ll need to do the step above and also reduce the resolution within the game itself.

To learn more about OBS settings for recording, follow the link below.

Read about the best OBS settings

What are the best OBS alternatives?

There are tons of OBS alternatives available, but here are some recommendations.

Recording

  • Bandicam
  • Icecream Screen Recorder
  • FlashBack Express

Streaming

  • Lightstream Studio
  • Wirecast

Follow the link below to check out more alternatives:

Read about the best OBS alternatives