How to Fix Black Screen in OBS Studio

OBS Studio is an open source software which allows users to stream their games or screens professionally. It has platforms for both macOS and Windows operating system. OBS is usually used by high-end gamers who prefer more control over their screen sharing as compared to conventional screen recording software.

Black Screen in OBS Studio

An issue has plagued OBS for quite some time where users experience a ‘black screen’ when trying to share their screens online. This issue is mostly seen in Windows platforms and systems where there are two graphics options i.e. dedicated and integrated both. In this article, we will look at all the solutions as to why this issue occurs and what are the steps to solve it.

What causes a Black Screen in OBS Studio?

We did an extensive survey and analyzed all the user cases where the black screen was occurring when streaming using OBS. Based on our analysis, we came across several different culprits which might be causing the issue. Some of them are listed here:

  • Dedicated Graphics Interfering: Whenever you start any application or game, the operating system has to decide whether to allocate resources from the dedicated graphics card or through the normal motherboard integrated graphics. This selection might have an adverse effect in terms of running mechanics and OBS might not be able to stream properly.
  • Administrator privileges: Since OBS is sharing your entire screen, there might be some cases where the computer might restrict its access, and hence it might not be able to display your content. Usually just starting the application with administrative access solves the issue instantly.
  • Conflict on 32 and 64-bit application: OBS has two versions of its applications namely 32 and 64 bit. The correct version should be selected depending on the type of operating system installed on your computer. If it isn’t, the application will not be compatible and it will not function properly.
  • Compatibility issues: We also came across several instances where OBS was not compatible with the latest version of windows. Here starting the application in compatibility mode forces the application to start and work as expected.
  • Overclocking: Overclocking may boost your PC’s performance but it also has its adverse effects on applications. You can try disabling overclocking and see if this does any good to the problem.
  • Conflicting software: There might also be other similar capture software running in the background. This software might conflict with OBS and cause a race for resources which will definitely cause OBS to malfunction and not work properly.
  • Capturing options: There are several capturing options available in OBS, for example, full screen or a specific window, etc. The correct one should be chosen when capturing content.
  • PC in error state: One can never cross out the possibility of the PC in an error state. This usually happens when you haven’t shut down your computer for a long time. Simply power cycling fixes the issue at hand.
If you have a similar situation, you can follow this article and follow the troubleshooting steps which we have laid down for you. Here we have listed down handpicked and tested methods that are used to circumvent the issue.

Make sure that you follow the solutions from the top and work your way down effectively. They are ordered in terms of difficulty and efficiency. Happy troubleshooting!

Solution 1: Power cycling your computer

Before we start troubleshooting extensively, it is worth power cycling your computer. There were several cases where simply power cycling solved OBS black screen instantly. Power cycling involves shutting down your computer completely and removing its power source as well. This forces the computer to remove all temporary configurations so whenever you start it again, everything will be initialized fresh.

  1. Shut down your computer properly.
  2. Once it is turned off, take out the power outlet or if you are using the laptop, take out the battery.
  3. Now press and hold the power button for a couple of seconds. This will ensure that all the power is drained.

After waiting 2-4 minutes, plug everything back and check if the issue gets resolved.

Solution 2: Selecting the Correct Version of OBS Studio

OBS usually comes in two versions i.e. 32 and 64 bits. The software is shipped in two versions because the Windows operating system is also shipped in two versions. A big difference between 32-bit processors and 64-bit processors is the number of calculations per second they can perform, which affects the speed at which they can complete tasks. In this solution, we will navigate to OBS’s installation directory and select the correct version of the software after checking your bit version.

First, we will check the version of the operating system installed on your computer.

  1. Right-click on This PC and select Properties.
Properties of This PC
  1. Once in the computer properties, check underneath the subheading of the System and check the type in front of System type. Note down the type of operating system and proceed with the instructions below.
Checking Operating system type

Now we will be navigating to the installation folder of OBS and launch the correct version of the application according to the bit architecture in your computer.

  1. Press Windows + E to launch the file explorer. Now search for OBS in the dialogue box and open the file location as shown below in the image.
OBS Studio Shortcut – Windows Explorer
  1. Now select and open the correct version of the application depending on the bit version of your OS. Check if the issue is resolved.

Solution 3: Changing Compatibility mode

We received mixed reports of the compatibility mode option present in the application. According to some users, the latest version of Windows was not supported by the application, hence they had to change the compatibility to Windows 7 while some users reported that disabling the compatibility mode solved the issue instantly. Here you can try both methods and check which one works for you. If it doesn’t, revert the setting back to default and move on with the other solutions.

  1. Press Windows + S, search for OBS, right-click on the application and select Open file location.
Opening File location of OBS – Start menu
  1. Now right-click on the executable and select Properties.
Properties of OBS Studio
  1. Once in properties, select the Compatibility tab and check the option Run this program in compatibility mode for. Now you may choose Windows 7 or 8.
Enabling Compatibility mode – OBS
  1. Save changes and exit. Now try launching the application and see if the issue is resolved.

Solution 4: Granting Administrator Rights

Another issue for why you might not be able to stream your screen or game properly is because your application doesn’t have proper administrator privileges. Since OBS is in effect sharing all your content and computer usage online, it is essential that you have granted it administrator rights. In this solution, we will be doing that and check whether this solves the issue. Even if it doesn’t, make sure that you keep the option checked for all time.

  1. Navigate to OBS’s executable properties as we did in the previous solution.
  2. Now click on the Compatibility tab and check the option of Run this program as an administrator.
Granting Administrator access to OBS
  1. Apply changes and exit. Restart your computer and launch OBS again. Now check if the issue is resolved.

Solution 5: Selecting the Correct GPU for Resources

Another interesting phenomenon we came across was where not selecting the correct GPU according to the capture you are using caused several issues including the black screen. The breakdown on which GPU to select according to the display selected is as follows:

  • Game capture: Dedicated graphics (NVIDIA or AMD).
  • Monitor/display capture: Intel’s stock GPU

Note: This solution is only for users who have a dedicated graphics card installed on their computer.

Here we will signify the methods on how to cater to both the situations. Make sure that you follow them according to your case.

  1. Right-click anywhere on your screen and select NVIDIA Control Panel.
  2. Once in the control panel, navigate to Manage 3D settings and click on Program Settings.
  3. Once in program settings, select the OBS display capture. If you are not able to find the entry, click on Add and look up the software by navigating to its installation directory and selecting the executable from there.
Selecting OBS in NVIDIA Control Panel
  1. Now according to the type of capture you are doing (game or monitor), select the correct graphics processor for the program. In the case down below, NVIDIA’s processor is selected.
Selecting Integrated/Dedicated Graphics for OBS
  1. Save changes and exit. Now restart your computer and launch OBS again. Check if the black screen issue is resolved.

Solution 6: Changing Drive Permission Settings

If your OBS is installed in your primary drive (C), there are chances that probably even your user might have not have full permissions to edit and modify its contents. This is the usual case and the reason why a conventional user is not allowed access to the drive is because of security reasons because all the core operating system files are present. However, according to some user reports, changing the ownership settings of the drive solved the issue instantly. Make sure that you are logged in as an administrator before following this solution.

  1. Press Windows + E to launch the File Explorer. Now right-click on your C drive (or whichever drive is set as your main operating system disk) and select Properties.
  2. Select the Security tab and then click on Edit in front of permissions.
Editing Permissions of C Drive
  1. Now select the option of Authenticated users and select the checkbox of Full control.
Granting Full Control to Authenticated Users
  1. Press Apply to save changes and exit. Restart your computer and start OBS again. Check if the issue is resolved.

Solution 7: Changing Settings of OBS

Another workaround to consider is changing some specific settings of OBS. Usually, OBS allows users to set the configurations according to their own preferences or will. However, in some cases, the custom settings might conflict with the software and cause the black screen. Here we have listed down some of the changes in settings that you have to do in order for OBS to run in optimal settings.

Mode: *Select according to your preference*

Screen: *Select according to your game*

Priority: *Usually the default one suffices*

Sli/crossfire: Check (You can also try unchecking this one later)

Force scaling: Uncheck

Transparency: Uncheck

Framerate lock: Uncheck

Record cursor: Check

Anti-cheat: Uncheck

Overlays: Uncheck

After you have made changes to the settings of OBS, restart it and check if you can stream your screen/games properly without any issues.

Note: You can also change the mode from “Capture any fullscreen application” to “Capture specific window“.

Solution 8: Enabling Multi-adapter compatibility

OBS has a setting of Multi-adapter compatibility which is meant for computers involving SLI or Crossfire technology. SLI/Crossfire is technologies by NVIDIA/AMD which allows users to connect two graphics cards instead of one and utilize them both in your gameplay or applications. Enabling this feature seemed to have fixed the issue of black screen in OBS instantly.

Enabling Multi-adapter compatibility

The funny thing is that this fixed the black screen in computers that don’t even have SLI/Crossfire technology installed. To conclude, we can safely say this is a bug in OBS and you have to enable multi-adapter compatibility whether or not you have SLI/Crossfire. You can easily enable this option by selecting the stream and clicking on the gears icon. A new window will pop up from where you can check the option.

Solution 9: Disabling Overclocking

Overclocking allows you to increase the clock rate of your processor until it reaches the threshold temperature set by the manufacturer. Once it reaches the temperature, the clock speed returns back to default so it is cooled down. After it reaches the optimal temperature, its clock speed is increased again and the cycle continues. Overclocking allows users to have better framerates and performance but they aren’t without their share of issues.

MSI Afterburner

We observed that PCs that had overclocking enabled were having the black screen issue in OBS. You should try disabling overclocking and also overclocking related software such as MSI Afterburner and try launching OBS again. If the black screen issue is resolved, consider disabling overclocking for good whenever you are using OBS.

Note: Also try disabling Overlay from GeForce Experience and Windows game bar features. Take into account any additional software features which may provide additional controls over games or video.

Solution 10: Checking for conflicting software

Another reason why you might be experiencing the black screen on your OBS software is that you have additional software running in the background which is also related to screen capture and video recording. This is a very common scenario for users where they ‘think’ that the other third-party software is not running but in reality, it is in the background. In this solution, we will go through all the different software installed on your computer and uninstall all extra software which might be causing the issue.

  1. Press Windows + R, type “appwiz.cpl” in the dialogue box and press Enter.
  2. Once in the application manager, search for any recording software which you might have installed on your computer. Right-click on it and select Uninstall.
Uninstalling Conflicting Applications
  1. You should also check your taskbar for any extra applications running in the background. Right-click on each entry and exit the application.
Checking Taskbar for applications
  1. After you are absolutely sure that no program is running the background, run OBS again and check if the issue is resolved.

Solution 11: Reinstalling the application

If all the above methods don’t work and you are still unable to stream your game/screen successfully using OBS, you should consider reinstalling the application entirely. It is possible that you have a corrupt/outdated copy with issues with several modules. All your preset configurations will be lost during this solution so make sure that you have saved all the work that you need.

  1. Press Windows + R, type “appwiz.cpl” in the dialogue box and press Enter.
  2. Once in the application manager, search for OBS, right-click on it and select Uninstall.
Uninstalling OBS Studio
  1. Select both options (one of them will be preselected) and click on Uninstall.
Deleting User and Program data for OBS
  1. Restart your computer. Now navigate to OBS Studio’s official website and download the latest version from there. Install it and check if the issue persists in the fresh copy.
Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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How to Fix Black Screen in OBS Studio

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