Alerts, donations, and notifications

Congratulations on setting up your OBS. By now, you’ve surely mastered how to use it offline; next up, you’ll have to fend for yourself against the inundation of messages and notifications that comes with livestreaming online.

Some of the things you’ll have to monitor during your stream are

Having a dedicated UI for chat and donations is particularly important because of the interactive component; not all chat comments are kind, and not all donations are made in good faith. These are comment vectors for abuse like posting spoilers, not just on the message text, but usernames, too. Sadly, Twitch does not have any measures for preventing new accounts from interacting with your stream, be it directly or through third-party services with Twitch auth.

As a result, some streamers manually approve each alert on the stream.

Eons ago when I first wrote guides like the one you’re reading right now, there were a lot of third-party services competing to assist you with this task. While more services exist, your best choice is basically between either of:



Right now, StreamElements has the best default assets, but Streamlabs is much easier to use.

If you want to make your own browser-source overlays, check out my “Make your own overlay”.

Setting up donations

For donations, I won’t go into more detail, but check out the payment guide and my own donation settings for more info.

To monitor donations for you, you obviously can’t use Streamlabs’s tools if your donations go through StreamElements, and vice versa.

Extending OBS with integrated tools

By now, you’ve set up OBS, but keep in mind that Streamlabs and StreamElements each have their own version of OBS:

These come with their own native UI and features for livestreaming.

Extending OBS with separate tools

I personally just use plain OBS, especially after OBS v23 added a bunch of native integration with things like Twitch’s chat and dashboard.

But how do I monitor donations to my stream then?

Rather than using the services’ website dashboards, download

I’m not sure why they give their services such weird names.

The apps are mostly for notificatins for subscriptions, donations, and so on, but they also come with song- or mediasharing features as well as some other bells and whistles.

Ground Control.
Stream Labels.

Stream Labels’ killer feature

One key advantage Stream Labels has over Ground Control—which is why I still have it installed even though I use StreamElements now—is that it saves your channel stats locally as text files so you don’t have to pull them from somewhere and work them into an overlay yourself.

If you click Change Output Directory, you can find their directory.

Keep in mind that Stream Labels can only update these stats if it’s open; otherwise you’ll be pulling outdated numbers.

By going to Settings and using the top-left drop-down, you can inspect each stat and change how they’re represented.

To show the stats on your stream, all you have to do is load the .txt a files as new Text (GDI+) sources in OBS and check Read from file. Now you can decorate and position your information however you want without dealing with browser sources, HTML, CSS, and other crap.

I recommend enabling an Outline on your text to give it a text shadow that makes it easier to read regardless of the background. Light on dark, dark on light, you know the drill. And Impact is never a bad default bold font.

What next?

You’ve made it this far, now go read more about all the tools you can use to make life easier for you.

You should also go read “Make your own overlay” at some point.