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How to Live Stream on YouTube for Free [PC, XBox One, PS4, Switch & Mobile]

Last Updated on Sep. 2, 2022 – by David Morgan
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How to Live Stream on YouTube for Free

Whether you’re a gamer, influencer, entertainer, or marketer, YouTube is among the most valuable platforms for streaming content and interacting with your audience.

Initially, learning how to live stream on YouTube might seem like a daunting task. However, you can create professional content in real-time without spending a dime.

This guide takes an in-depth look at how to live stream on YouTube for free using your PC, gaming console, or mobile device. We also discuss everything you need for your streaming setup and answer frequently asked YouTube live stream and content-editing questions.

If you need streaming software make sure to check out 11 Best Streaming Software for Twitch and YouTube in 2022.

What is YouTube Live?

YouTube Live is YouTube’s live streaming service. Users with a verified YouTube channel can interact with viewers in real-time while streaming music performances, tutorials, gaming videos, and much more.

YouTube Live officially launched in 2011 but was only available to a few select partners to air major live events, such as the Olympics. Now it is the second most used live streaming platform (Twitch, the popular gaming live stream site is number 1). Keep reading to learn exactly how to live stream on YouTube Live.

Why Go Live on YouTube?

There are currently more than 2 billion active YouTube users, which is a third of all internet users. It is also the second-most visited site, (with Google taking the top spot), and 5 billion YouTube videos are watched every day.

What do these statistics mean? That live streaming on YouTube can bring a lot of eyeballs to your streams, and ultimately subscribers to your channel. It also means YouTube knows what it is doing and its algorithms work! YouTube algorithms will direct the appropriate audience to your live streams and help create repeat viewers.

That answers why you should start streaming on YouTube, but why live stream at all?

Live streaming turns regular videos into events. It’s the difference between watching a concert on TV or attending it live with thousands of screaming fans.

Probably the biggest reason to start a YouTube live stream is for the interaction with viewers. Fans of your channel can interact with you and other fans in real-time. It’s as if you threw a giant get-together of like-minded souls. Typically viewers will watch a video, leave a comment, and hope that you will even read it, much less respond. With live streams, viewers can get an instant response, and even see your face and hear your tone of voice as you read their comment. Interacting with viewers is a big part of learning how to live stream on YouTube.

How to Go Live on YouTube?

Follow these steps to learn how to live stream on YouTube with a PC:

  1. Open YouTube using your Chrome browser.
  2. Click on the Create button on the top right of your screen, which looks like a video camera with a plus sign.
  3. Select Go Live.

To learn how to live stream on YouTube from a mobile device, follow these steps:

  1. Open the YouTube app on your phone.
  2. Tap the + icon at the bottom of your screen.
  3. Tap Go Live.

What Do You Need to Start Live Streaming on YouTube?

The first step in learning how to live stream on YouTube is knowing what equipment you need. This depends on the type of content you want to create. For example, if you want to stream a talking head commenting on a live chat, all you need is a computer with streaming software and your built-in webcam.

However, suppose you are a gamer looking to add multiple audiovisual elements to your YouTube live stream. In that case, you might require a more extensive setup consisting of a gaming console, PC, multiple cameras, and a mic.

Video Sources

A camera is the foundation of any live streaming setup. While your computer’s webcam might be suitable for informal and short streams, investing in a quality camera with a high video resolution will help make your content look better.

The number of cameras you need depends on the nature of your streams. Most YouTube Live streamers only use one camera. On the other hand, a comprehensive simulation rig might need cameras pointing at your face, pedals, and steering wheel.

Audio Sources

Quality audio is critical when live streaming on YouTube, giving your content a professional edge. External webcams typically feature a built-in microphone, which is often sufficient. However, consider an external microphone connected to your computer via USB if you want to upgrade your setup.

Many YouTube live streamers use their ear pods’ built-in mic. However, the quality of these microphones is generally lacking.

Software

While it’s possible to stream directly from YouTube, we recommend using software for optimal streaming functionality. For example, if you want to bring on a guest, connect a gaming console, or share your screen, responsive software will give you all the tools to perform those tasks.

In the “How to Live Stream on YouTube Using a PC” section below, we provide a step-by-step guide on streaming live video using PowerDirector video editor and Screen Recorder 4. You can click the button below to download it for free and start streaming on YouTube.

*Note: The free version of PowerDirector doesn’t include Screen Recorder. Please download Screen Recorder for free separately here.

Gaming Console

If you want to live stream gaming content to YouTube, you can incorporate a gaming console, such as Xbox One, PS4, or Nintendo Switch, into your setup. Some consoles, such as PS4, can stream directly to YouTube.

However, if you are using an Xbox One or another console without direct streaming capability, you need to use a capture system with a PC and streaming software. Below, we provide a step-by-step guide on how to live stream on YouTube from an Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.

Encoder

An encoder converts real-time video into a suitable format for live streaming on YouTube over the internet. You can use a hardware encoder, an external device, or a software encoder that you install on your PC.

If you are just starting to learn how to live stream on YouTube, consider using a free software encoder that you can easily update whenever a new version is available. When using a software encoder, you also need a capture card to stream raw on-screen video content.

In 2018, YouTube incorporated a significant technical change, allowing content creators to stream live from their notebooks or desktop computers without using an encoder.

Lighting

An essential part of learning how to live stream on YouTube is proper lighting. Various lighting options are available with a specific design and color temperature to illuminate your subject for the camera, whether you are filming a talking head, art videos, or any other type of content. However, these lights can be expensive, and if you don’t have a generous budget, experiment with regular lighting to ensure proper illumination.

Software such as PowerDirector will give you the ability to edit your stream recordings and enhance your video, offsetting the effects of insufficient lighting.

If you’re a beginner content creator and want to create a YouTube live stream without spending any money, you can create professional streams using only your computer and Screen Recorder 4.

How to Live Stream on YouTube Using PC

You need responsive and professional screen recording software when learning how to live stream on YouTube using your PC. Screen Recorder 4 is a versatile tool for video recording, streaming, and editing video. You can even incorporate a feed from your gaming console into your stream using this software. The product is a component of PowerDirector, a robust software you can use to edit and enhance your stream recording or any other video.

To follow along with our steps on how to live stream on YouTube using your PC, click the button below to download PowerDirector for free, and launch it on your PC.

*Note: The free version of PowerDirector doesn’t include Screen Recorder. Please download Screen Recorder for free separately here.


Step 1: Manage Your Preferences

After launching PowerDirector, open Screen Recorder under the Plugin menu. Then click on the Gear icon on the top right of your screen, opening the Preferences window. By navigating the categories to the left of this window, you can customize the app’s functionalities to personalize your stream.

Plugin - Screen Recorder Stream - Preferences

Under General, you can choose what happens to the app after launch and during streaming on YouTube. Other settings include automatic updates and language. Under the File tab, you can select the export folder for your screen recordings and add a captured video prefix, plus the file name for your screenshots.

Under the Video tab, you can select whether you want to record your primary, secondary, or third monitor. You can also use these settings to lock your screen recording to a specific window.

In the Audio section, you can select the microphone you want to use for your stream. You can also turn on your system audio and balance it with your mic volume. Under Webcam, select the camera you want to use from the drop-down menu, and select the size of the webcam’s picture-in-picture window.

After configuring your preferences, click OK.

Step 2: Configure Recording Settings

Under the Record tab, you can choose from multiple recording options, including Full Screen, Game, Lock to App, Custom, or Device. Under each option, you can select your video resolution and frame rate and whether or not you want to record mouse clicks, your webcam, and your microphone.

Under the Game tab, you can select an application to record on your computer. If you want to record a device, you can select the input device from the drop-down menu under the Device tab.

Screen Recorder - Record Tab

Step 3: Start Streaming on YouTube

After configuring your recording settings, you can start streaming on YouTube. Click on the Stream tab next to the Record tab, and then select YouTube from the streaming platform icons. Follow the on-screen instructions to log in to your YouTube account and give access to the platform.

Next, click the Gear icon to open Settings, then enter a title for your stream and select your privacy settings. Go back to the Stream tab to select the video resolution and frame rate. If you want to share your stream on social media, you can also copy the live URL from the Stream tab.

Screen Recorder - Youtube Settings

You are now ready to start streaming on YouTube with your PC. Check the box next to Save Streamed Video to Disc then click Go Live. A countdown timer will appear, and then whatever is on your computer screen will appear live on YouTube. After streaming, click Stop in Screen Recorder 4.

How to Live Stream on YouTube With a Gaming Console

How to Live Stream on YouTube With Xbox One

Xbox One doesn’t allow for direct streaming on YouTube. However, you can stream Xbox One to YouTube using your computer, Xbox Console Companion, and Screen Recorder 4.

To learn how to live stream on YouTube using your Xbox One, click the button below to download Screen Recorder 4 for free and follow along.


  1. Start by installing Xbox Console Companion to your computer from the Microsoft Store, launch the app, and sign in to your Microsoft account. Click on the Hamburger icon on the top left of your screen, select Connection, and click Add a Device.
  2. Next to My Xbox Device, click Connect. If your console doesn’t appear, make sure it is on. You might need to enter your console’s IP address. Click on Stream above the Now Playing panel, and your Xbox feed should appear on your computer screen.
  3. Screen Recorder - Go Live
  4. Click the Full-Screen icon at the top right of the application screen. This icon looks like two arrows pointing at each other.
  5. Open Screen Recorder and configure your preferences using the instructions above. In the Record tab, select Game, then choose Xbox Console Companion from the Application drop-down menu. Now you can select the Stream tab, choose YouTube as your streaming platform, and start your YouTube live stream.

How to Live Stream on YouTube With PS4

Your PS4 lets you stream directly to YouTube, which is handy if you don’t want to add additional video elements. See below for how to live stream on YouTube with a PS4.

  1. Start by turning on your PS4, and selecting Settings from your console’s main menu. Under Account Management, select Link with Other Services, and select YouTube. Follow the on-screen sign-in instructions to connect your YouTube account to your console.
  2. Open the game you want to stream. Then, tap the Share button on your controller once, opening the Share menu on your screen. Select Broadcast Gameplay and select YouTube again.
  3. Next, you can configure your video options, add a title to your stream, and select your video resolutions. If you have a PlayStation Camera, you can stream a video of your face as well.
  4. To start the stream, select Start Broadcasting. After finishing your stream, press the Share button on your controller, and select Stop Broadcasting.

How to Live Stream on YouTube With Switch

Like Xbox, Nintendo Switch doesn’t offer a built-in live streaming capability. However, you can broadcast your gameplay on YouTube using a capture card and software encoder.

To learn how to live stream on YouTube using your Switch, click the button below to download Screen Recorder 4 for free and follow along.


  1. Start by docking your Switch and connect your dock output to your capture card via an HDMI cable.
  2. Next, connect the capture card’s output to your monitor using an HDMI cable, and connect your capture card to your PC via USB.
  3. Launch Screen Recorder 4 on your PC, click Video in the Preferences menu and check the Enable Hardware Encoding box. Select the capture card from the drop-down menu in the Device section under the Record tab.
  4. Screen Recorder - Device Capture Card
  5. Head to the Stream tab, and then select YouTube as your streaming platform. Connect to your YouTube account before starting your broadcast.

How to Live Stream on YouTube from Your Phone or Tablet

You can stream directly to YouTube from mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets. However, before you can start streaming on YouTube with a mobile device, you need at least 50 subscribers (1,000 subscribers if you want your video public), and you need to have a verified YouTube account. Below we explain how to live stream on YouTube from your mobile device.

  1. Open the YouTube mobile app on your device, tap the + button at the top of your screen, and click Go Live. If you are streaming for the first time, you need to allow YouTube access to your device’s camera, microphone, and storage.
  2. Manage your preferences in the Go Live section. Choose whether to capture the live stream using your front-facing or selfie camera. If you are using an Android device, you have the option to broadcast your phone screen as a PiP image. You also need to enter the details of your live stream, including the video name, age restrictions, location, and privacy settings.
  3. When you are done inputting your data, tap Next to start the countdown timer. When the timer reaches zero, the app will take a picture of you as a thumbnail. If you are happy with the thumbnail, tap Go Live to start the stream. You can also upload a thumbnail from your local storage and share the live stream’s link to your social media.
  4. After finishing your live stream, tap the X button at the top of your screen. Your stream will upload as a video to your channel within 24 hours.

Do’s and Don’ts of YouTube Live Streaming

Learn the best practices for how to live stream on YouTube by following our do’s and don’ts below.

Do

  1. Follow YouTube’s Community Guidelines
  2. The YouTube Community Guidelines that apply to uploaded videos also apply to Live Streams. Streaming content that is dangerous, hateful, or sexually explicit will earn you a restriction, and you will be unable to create a YouTube live stream for 90 days. Too many restrictions and your channel could be permanently banned. Part of learning how to live stream on YouTube is knowing the rules and regulations you must follow.

  3. Prepare
  4. Live streams are different than other YouTube videos because, well, they are live. You can’t edit out mistakes or pause filming while you think of something to say. While a YouTube live stream doesn’t have to be scripted, you should at least have some talking points ready in case your mind goes blank when that red light turns on. Your audience scheduled time to log in and join your stream, so don’t disappoint them with rambling nonsense or dead air.

  5. Have fun
  6. If you feel super nervous or awkward, your viewers will feel tense too! Relax and have fun. If something goes wrong while you are streaming on YouTube, laugh about it with your viewers instead of getting upset.

Don’t

  1. Ignore your audience
  2. The appeal of live streaming is real-time interaction. Ask questions, take a poll, and respond to comments. This will keep viewers engaged and get them to hang around. The comments during a YouTube live stream could be telling you something important - like your mic isn’t on!

  3. Share personal or private information
  4. When streaming on YouTube, you can’t go back and edit out personal information you accidentally disclose. Protect yourself by making sure your streaming location doesn’t disclose anything you don’t wish to share with an audience. If you are streaming on a mobile device around your neighborhood, make sure any street signs or address numbers aren’t visible, and never show the front of your house. For gamers or anyone live streaming a screen recording from their computer, make sure no private information is visible on the screen.

    That also goes for anything you might say while streaming on YouTube. Once it’s out there you can’t take it back! And if you have social media accounts where you post photos, make sure location tags aren’t turned on.

  5. Create low-quality streams
  6. With so many entertainment options available, why would anyone choose to watch a live stream that looks and sounds bad? Nowadays, it is easy to get high-quality video from a phone or webcam, so spend your money on a good microphone and lighting.

    It’s also a good idea to test all of your equipment before you start streaming on YouTube to check sound levels, lighting, how your hair looks on camera, etc. Have batteries and chargers on hand, as well as backup USB and HDMI cables to avoid any prolonged technical difficulties.

Download the Best YouTube Live Streaming Software for Free

YouTube is among the most popular platforms for broadcasting live videos and interacting with your audience. Streaming on YouTube lets you showcase your unique talents, market your business, or entertain your followers. As a novice content creator, you can create professional live streams without breaking the bank, provided that you have a computer and the right software.

Using the Screen Recorder 4 plug-in of PowerDirector, you can capture video and audio feed from your screen, an app, or an external device, such as a capture card. Learning how to live stream on YouTube with this software is incredibly easy. It also lets you stream directly to YouTube, and you can set up your streaming feed and sign in to your YouTube account in minutes.

You can also save your stream to your computer and use PowerDirector to cut highlight reels of your streams before you upload them to YouTube or other platforms. Download PowerDirector with the Screen Recorder 4 plug-in for free today by clicking the button below.

*Note: The free version of PowerDirector doesn’t include Screen Recorder. Please download Screen Recorder for free separately here.

How to Live Stream on YouTube FAQ

1. How do I save YouTube streams?

You can save your broadcast in the Stream tab when using the Screen Recorder 4 plugin of PowerDirector by checking the Save streamed video to disk box before going live.

Screen Recorder 4 will automatically download the video to the folder you selected in the preferences window.

2. How do I stream live from my YouTube?

Log into your YouTube account and click the Create button, then select Go Live.

For more detailed instructions, see the “How to Live Stream on YouTube Using PC,” and “How to Live Stream on YouTube From Your Phone or Tablet” sections above.

3. How do I record and edit gameplay?

The process for recording gameplay is similar to the process for live streaming. However, you don’t need to connect to a streaming platform with gameplay recording.

Record gameplay with Screen Recorder 4:

  1. Connect the video capture device
  2. Adjust device capture settings
  3. Adjust webcam settings
  4. Adjust microphone settings
  5. Add any video overlays
  6. Record

Edit gameplay with PowerDirector:

  1. Import footage into PowerDirector
  2. Add footage to the timeline
  3. Edit footage
  4. Add titles and transitions
  5. Export

4. What is the best video editor for cutting gameplay videos?

PowerDirector is among the best video editors for cutting and editing your gameplay videos. The software has an intuitive interface with comprehensive video-editing capabilities.

The gameplay-editing toolkit you get with PowerDirector includes:

  • Advanced motion tracking.
  • Speedy no-freeze rendering.
  • Direct sharing to YouTube and other platforms, such as Twitch.

With PowerDirector, you also get access to voiceover options, creative special effects, and extensive royalty-free music, images, and motion graphic title libraries.

5. What features should I look for in streaming software?

Learn how to live stream on YouTube with the following essential features:

  1. An intuitive interface
  2. Direct streaming to YouTube and other streaming platforms
  3. Feed importing from cameras, microphones, applications, and external devices
  4. An automatic saving feature
  5. Video resolution and frame rate options
  6. Live URL sharing to social media

For a streaming software that checks all of these boxes, we recommend PowerDirector with Screen Recorder 4.

6. Should I pay for live streaming software?

If you are a beginner who is just learning how to live stream on YouTube, you may not be ready to shell out big bucks for streaming software. However, paying for high-end streaming software is likely a worthy investment. With tools such as PowerDirector and Screen Recorder 4, you can get all the streaming, screen recording, cutting, and editing tools you need to create engaging content.

If you still aren’t convinced, you can try out all the features in both PowerDirector and Screen Recorder 4 for free before you commit.

7. Can I live stream on YouTube without 1000 subscribers?

Yes. Subscriber number restrictions are only for streaming on YouTube with a mobile phone or tablet.

If you plan to start streaming on YouTube using your mobile device, you must have at least 50 subscribers. If you have under 1,000 subscribers, YouTube will limit the number of viewers and your stream will automatically be set to “Private.”

8. How do you live stream with someone on YouTube?

Currently, the only way to invite guests to your live stream is by using 3rd-party software. Check out our article, 11 Best Streaming Software for Twitch and YouTube to learn about the best streaming services on the market.

In March of 2022, YouTube launched a small test pilot of a feature called Go Live Together, where streamers can send a link to guests and have them join the live stream. Until YouTube opens up the feature to all users, using a 3rd-party streaming software is how to live stream on YouTube with a guest.

9. How long can I stream on YouTube?

Technically you could be streaming on YouTube forever. However, if your YouTube live stream is longer than 12 hours, it may not be captured for you to save and post later. YouTube will automatically archive any streams that are under 12 hours.

YouTube does have daily limits for the number of live streams you post in 24 hours. This number goes up the more your channel is verified (proving identity with an ID will allow you more YouTube live streams than only providing your phone number), and if your channel doesn’t have a lot of strikes.

10. Can anyone go live on YouTube?

Streaming on YouTube is prohibited for anyone age 13 and under unless an adult is visibly present.

Also, you cannot set up a YouTube live stream if your channel isn’t verified, you’ve reached your daily limit, or if you’ve received a Live Streaming Restriction in the past 90 days. The following actions can earn you a Live Streaming Restriction:

  • Not adhering to YouTube Community Guidelines
  • Your YouTube live stream has received a Content ID claim or closely copied another channel
  • Your YouTube live stream includes copyrighted material
  • Someone in your YouTube live stream is holding or handling a firearm

A very important part of learning how to live stream on YouTube is knowing what not to do!

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