So you’ve run into the dreaded black screen issue in OBS Studio. Ouch. Believe me when I say I know how you feel.
I still remember the time I was live for three hours when I first started streaming, only to realize I had been streaming with a black screen, and only found out about it because someone finally popped in my chat to say, “Hey, you know your screen is black, right?”
Embarrassment intensifying!!! That was quite a hard lesson to learn.
Let’s get this sorted out for you.
Table of Contents
Common Causes Of The Black Screen Issue in OBS Studio
The Game Capture Source in OBS Studio
The black screen issue in OBS Studio typically comes from the game capture source. This happens because of how this source works.
By default, the game capture source will capture any full-screen application. However, If you run a program in borderless window mode or windowed mode, it won’t capture it using that method, and you’ll end up with the game capture black screen issue. To resolve this, you’ll need to configure the source to capture a specific window using the Mode selector dropdown. From there, you can select one of your actively running applications, et voila!
If only it were that easy…
That is merely one of many methods you’ll have to try, as there is more than one cause of this problem. Also, if you plan to use the game capture source to capture non-games, good luck. It is hit-or-miss on what programs work. You are better off trying method 6 for non-game applications.
Easy Anti-Cheat Protected Games
Another significant portion of the causes of the blank screen issue is games that don’t like how the game capture source hooks into the .exe. This is most common for games protected by Easy Anti-Cheat, which is known to overreact to any sort of external intrusion in the executable, including capturing it using OBS. Outside of those games, specific titles have their own anti-cheating implementation that might cause false positives.
- Destiny 2
- Sea of Thieves
Obviously, this is far from a comprehensive list, but it is surprisingly hard to find examples.
OBS has implemented an anti-cheat compatibility hook setting in the source options, but YMMV with it.
To work around this issue, you should try method 6 in this list. It’s best not to poke the EAC bear if you don’t have to – a potential ban for trying to stream a game hardly seems worth the benefits.
OBS Isn’t Installed in Programs Folder
The other weird instance where the black screen issue can occur is when OBS isn’t installed within the Programs Folder or Programs Folder(x86). This is typically only a problem if you play games from the windows store. Essentially, windows store games are picky when it comes to what sort of hooks it will allow from programs on your computer.
Fixing The OBS Black Screen Game Capture Issue
Now that you have a rough idea of the causes of the black screen game capture issue in OBS Studio, it’s time to discuss solutions. I’ve ordered the list in terms of most common fix to least common fix, so you can go through each method to figure out which one works for you.
Method 1: Verify the Correct Application is Selected
When you create a new source and select an application in OBS Studio, there may be multiple instances of the same application in the list. The only solution then is to systematically go through each application instance until the preview window shows the gameplay window. If this does not fix the problem, proceed to Method 2.
Method 2: Make the Captured Application the Active Window
In the past, I have used the game capture source, and I’ve noticed that whenever the application that I am capturing with OBS isn’t active, it disappears from the preview window. The solution, then, is to simply click into the application you are trying to capture, right?
Well, yes, but only because the program is running in full-screen mode. Of course, that is a problem that you will need to work around.
There are three ways to work around this issue:
- Set up an automatic scene transition to swap scenes and show different content while the application isn’t your active focus.
- Set the program to run in Borderless Window, or windowed mode, if it is supported
- Use Method 6 in this list: (Not Recommended, but last resort and least time-consuming to implement. An emergency fix for while you are live)
Method 3: Recreate the Game Capture Source
Sometimes you can experience a black screen issue in OBS Studio by some sort of bug or issue with the source, though it is very rare. In this case, you will need to remove and recreate the game capture source from scratch. While you are at it, restarting OBS Studio can also help in this particular case.
Method 4: Run OBS Studio as Administrator
Running OBS Studio as administrator is something that can do wonders in a few areas, particularly with GPU utilization sharing issues. Incidentally, it can also sometimes resolve the black screen issue from the game capture source as well. At least, that is what users on the OBS Forums claim. I haven’t been able to recreate this setup, but I felt that it had the merit to include here.
This method does have some drawbacks, though, in the form of security risks. Any browser source you use also has elevated permissions, which can lead to potential back doors. This post by Lawrence on the OBS forums explains this in an easier-to-understand way.
If nothing else works, this may be your only option.
Method 5: Enable Compatability Mode in OBS
If you are using Windows 11, you may be experiencing the blank screen in OBS Studio for an entirely different reason altogether. As the operating system is still so new, you may need to run OBS Studio in compatibility mode. To do this:
- Right-Click on the OBS Shortcut
- Select Properties
- Locate the Compatibility tab and left click it
- Under compatibility mode, check the box labeled “Run this program in compatibility mode for:
- Select Windows 10
Method 6: Try Window or Display Capture
This method to fix the black screen in OBS issue is honestly the easiest to implement but comes with some significant drawbacks.
Firstly, Display capture will capture everything your monitor displays. This makes this method of capture a personal information bomb waiting to happen –
- A stray email with your first and last name popping up from your mail application
- Accidental sharing of bank details
- Password leaks
If you do choose to use Display capture, you must be extra vigilant to hide this personal information as best as you can.
Method 7: Revert to a Previous OBS Version (Or try a Beta Version)
In a last-ditch effort, the final option available to you is to revert to a previous version of OBS Studio. You can find a complete list of every single version of OBS Studio ever released on the public OBS Studio Git Repository.