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Create a Youtube Live Stream with an Encoder

There are three ways to stream on YouTube: use a webcam, your mobile device, or an encoder (streaming software or a hardware encoder). Using an encoder lets you:

  • Share your screen or broadcast your gameplay
  • Use external audio and video hardware
  • Manage an advanced production (like multiple cameras and microphones)

Follow the steps below to get started with your first live stream.


1. Enable live streaming

Enabling a live stream for the first time may take up to 24 hours. Once enabled, your stream can go live instantly. Learn how to enable live streaming.


2. Install an encoder

An encoder converts your content into a digital format to stream on YouTube. Some encoders are software applications on your computer, while others are stand-alone hardware.

Watch this video to learn more about why you should use an encoder and how they work.

YouTube Live verified encoders

Here’s a list of YouTube Live verified encoders. None of these products are made by YouTube. Make sure to evaluate the products and decide which option makes the most sense for you or your business.


3. Connect your hardware

If you’re using additional hardware, like a webcam, a microphone, or a headset, connect them and make sure they’re set up with your encoder.

Depending on your stream, you may use different hardware. Here are some typical examples:

Gaming & casual live events
Many streamers use an external microphone, webcam, and headphones. Gamers may also use other tools like a greenscreen.

Professional live streams
Advanced stream setups can include multiple microphones and cameras, mixers, and hardware encoders.

4. Connect your encoder and go live

To start streaming, enter your YouTube Live server URL and stream key into your encoder. If you have audio and video hardware, set it up with your encoder, also known as streaming software.


Software encoders

Open Broadcaster Software

A free and open source software for video recording and live streaming.

Stage Ten

Use the power of a live production studio and control room in a simple web application designed to reduce the complexity of social broadcasting and help you transform your YouTube page into a social TV channel.

Streamlabs OBS
Windows, iOS, AndroidStreamlabs OBS is the leading broadcast software for streamers. It’s free, open-source, and packed with powerful features to help you grow, engage, and monetize.
XSplit Broadcaster
Windows (Free version available!)Revolutionary audio/video mixing application that allows you to create professional live broadcasts and video recordings.
XSplit Gamecaster
Windows (Free version available!)The easiest way to stream and record your greatest gaming moments at the click of a button. Perfect for sharing your gameplay.
Windows, Mac

Easy-to-use, award-winning live streaming and production software. Add cameras, live screenshots, titles, graphics, and more with just a click of a button and click-and-drag to reposition and resize. Stream directly to YouTube or any RTMP destination. Works with the YouTube API so you can manage, create, and schedule your live events or stream your live channel without leaving the app.


Hardware encoders

Windows, MacMirror your mobile device or computer to YouTube.
Elgato Game Capture HD60
Windows, MacRecord and stream your Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii U gameplay.
Epiphan Webcaster X2
Any HDMI deviceCreate professional live streams from your HDMI camera, mixer, console, or other device with this compact hardware encoder. Connect your USB camera for live switching and picture in picture layouts.
LiveU Solo

A video encoding device that offers one-touch, wireless live streaming.


The industry’s first portable, wireless multi-camera broadcasting platform. Monitor, record, switch, edit and stream live HD-quality video wirelessly to YouTube.

Teradek VidiU Pro

Stream in broadcast quality on the go from any HDMI camera, switcher, or video source.


Mobile encoders

Windows, MacMirror your mobile device to YouTube.
Streamlabs OBS
Windows, iOS, AndroidBuilt on OBS, and combines Streamlabs alerts, widgets, tipping, face masks and thousands of free themes and overlays.
Wirecast Go
iOSFree download from iOS App Store. Easily produce professional live broadcasts from your iPhone and stream them to YouTube. Switch shots, add photos, graphics and more on up to three layers at a time for powerful mobile production. Read YouTube comments and chat in real time and interact with your audience. Schedule, create and manage your YouTube Live events directly inside the app. Upgrade from free version to stream to any RTMP destination.