How to add a chat overlay to stream with OBS and SLOBS

Your viewers will thank you later.

Image via Twitch

Each streamer tries to create unique content to draw viewers’ attention. While the type and quality of content you produce will be essential in attracting new viewers, there are other variables in the equation that will convince them to stay.

Twitch chat is arguably one of the most impactful features of a stream, so much so that there will be viewers tuning in just to hang out in your chat. The chat portion of a stream is usually glued next to the visual feeds, but keeping an eye on it might turn into a cumbersome task when viewers switch to watching your stream on full screen.

Featuring your chat overlay on your screen will let your viewers keep up with the chat even when they’re on full screen. Two of the most popular streaming programs OBS and Streamlabs OBS (SLOBS) support this feature, and here’s how you can enable it.

How can you add a chat overlay to your stream on OBS?

You’ll need version 23 of OBS Studio or higher to add a chat overlay to your stream. If you’ve been staying up-to-date with the updates, then you should be in the clear.

  • Launch OBS and open your channel through your browser.
  • Navigate to your chat and click on the cog icon at the bottom of the chat section.
  • Choose “Popout Chat.” 
  • Your chat will open in a separate browser window, and you’ll need to copy its link.
  • Switch back to OBS and click on “Add,” the plus button on the bottom left.
  • Choose “Browser.”
  • Pick a name for this new overlay, preferably “Twitch Chat,” so you don’t confuse it with other windows.
  • Click on “OK,” and you’ll be directed to a new page where you’ll be able to enter an URL.
    • You’ll also be able to customize the size of your chat through this panel.
  • Choose “OK” once again to confirm your settings, and a new browser window will appear on your overlay, showing your Twitch chat.

If you’d like a transparent chat but still want to continue using OBS Studio you can follow the method below and extract a chat overlay link through SLOBS.

How can you add a chat overlay to your stream on SLOBS?

SLOBS offers more customization options compared to OBS. Unlike getting a separated window on your screen to showcase your chat, you’ll be able to bury your chat into your content with a transparent background.

  • Launch Streamlabs OBS and locate “Chat Box” under widgets from the left panel.
  • The top portion of the “Chat Box” menu will showcase a preview of how your chat will look on your live feed.
    • A handful of customization settings can be found on this panel, allowing you to change your chat’s font and colors.
    • The color setting only changes the test panel’s background color, and the chat will always appear as transparent when you go live.
    • Around the preview part of this screen, you should notice a URL link that belongs to the widget. Copy the link and follow the steps for featuring your Twitch chat on OBS Studio. Using the link from this widget will allow you to have a better-looking chat box compared to featuring Twitch’s default chat overlay.
  • Save your settings and navigate back to the Streamlabs OBS Editor.
  • Choose the plus sign under the sources and click on “Add Source.”
  • Click on “Add Existing Source,” and a chat box overlay will appear on your test screen.
    • Move it to a decent part of your screen where it won’t block any content while still being easy to read.
  • You can place colorful boxes behind your chat to make it easier to read.

If you decide to go with the transparent chat widget of SLOBS, spending some time optimizing how your chat looks might help viewers enjoy your stream even more. You can filter out chatbots and allow messages to disappear after some time, which will all increase your chat’s overall readability.