Over the past decade or so, OBS has emerged as one of the most popular live-streaming programs for content creators. The software is intuitive, easy to use, and available for free.
Does OBS work on a Mac?
OBS is compatible with Mac, in addition to Windows and Linux systems. Despite this, there are some aspects of OBS that run more smoothly on PCs compared to Mac computers or laptops. These areas include the performance of external plugins and display issues.
Although OBS is compatible with Mac, many users agree that there are certain aspects of the software which run more smoothly on a Windows PC.
Likewise, there are many other programs for audio and video creators which perform better on a Mac system compared to PCs.
- In this guide, we’ll definitively answer whether OBS works on a Mac, and the disadvantages compared to using it on Windows.
Is OBS Compatible With Mac Devices?
The home page of OBS’ website presents three download options – Windows, macOS 10.13+, and Linux. However, just because the software is available for Mac users doesn’t necessarily mean that it runs smoothly on that operating system.
The truth is, OBS does indeed work on a Mac. Like most high-end programs designed for audio and video processing, OBS has been developed to run on all types of computers and laptops.
- Despite its compatibility with three operating systems, many users report significant differences in the way that OBS runs on Mac, particularly in comparison to how it runs on PCs.
Mac users may anticipate that their devices will have no problems running OBS, especially if they’ve used other types of software in the past.
Indeed, many powerful programs run flawlessly on Mac devices, but they are usually dedicated to Apple, and approved by the brand.
Music DAWs such as Logic, ProTools, and GarageBand are three examples of software that works very well with a Mac. Likewise, video editing software like Premiere Pro or After Effects also works flawlessly on the Mac operating system.
The difference between the aforementioned programs and OBS, however, is that they are passed for use by Apple, whereas OBS was originally designed to be used on Windows PCs.
OBS Disadvantages on Mac vs. PC
Using OBS on a Mac is a different experience from using it on a PC.
Indeed, many variables will also affect how smoothly the software runs on either operating system, which we will look at in a later section.
Putting the individual specifications of the laptops or computers aside for the time being, it’s fair to say that PCs handle OBS better in general compared to Mac devices.
Live streaming requires plenty of CPU power, GPU power, and general computing power.
The majority of Mac devices lack the necessary power in these areas compared to PCs. For live streaming on OBS, a Mac will allow you to carry out the basic functions of the software, but when you get into the more complex actions which require more power, they are likely to be less effective.
It’s much easier to customize a PC and add components that improve its performance for live streaming with OBS. You can upgrade the graphics card, and increase the processing power, RAM, and memory capacity of the system without needing much prior experience with computers.
Mac devices are generally more difficult to upgrade.
This means that the components that come with a Mac are essentially what you’re stuck with, and if they’re not the best equipped for running OBS for live streaming, this could cause the software’s performance to be less satisfactory.
As I previously stated, I am commenting specifically on how well a Mac is likely to work with OBS. Other software which is approved by Apple may run perfectly on a Mac, but because OBS is an open-source application, it tends to perform better on a good quality PC.
- I have written an article on connecting an external mixer to OBS. This massively improves the audio quality and gives you full control over your audio. You can read this article here.
How to Improve OBS’ Performance on a Mac
If you’ve already got a Mac and you’re wondering whether there’s anything you can do to improve how OBS works on your laptop or desktop computer, thankfully there are some measures you can take.
- User Interface issues are quite common when using OBS on a Mac. The display may glitch out, or your live streams may be plagued by lagging and slow processing. If this is the case, one thing you may want to consider doing is installing software that allows you to run Windows on your Mac device.
If you’ve never heard of this before, it may seem like a strange thing to do. However, because OBS is not a Mac-specific live streaming software, it is likely to be beneficial to its performance.
- One popular program which allows Mac users to run Windows 10 temporarily on their device is known as ‘Boot Camp’. This utility comes pre-installed on Mac devices and is specifically designed to allow you to install Windows 10 on your device.
Why would a Mac user want to do this? Simply because many programs are either exclusive to PCs, or perform much better on the Windows operating system due to compatibility.
Check out this popular YouTube video that shows how to get “Boot Camp” set up with your Mac
Using Boot Camp on a Mac provides users with the full capabilities of a PC, which may help to iron out some of the issues surrounding the user interface of OBS, helping it to run more smoothly.
NDI (Network Device Interface) is another program that may improve the ability of OBS on a Mac. Developed by NewTek, this software is used to broadcast high-definition video and audio using what is known as an interface gigabit network.
NDI is highly compatible with OBS, and combining it with Boot Camp is a good way to improve the live streaming capabilities of a Mac device.
Some additional benefits include being able to use your mobile phone as an additional camera, monitoring several computers from a Mac or PC, and receiving audio and video from other computers for recording or live streaming.
Despite the ingenuity of Boot Camp and its obvious benefits, some users report that it still doesn’t result in OBS working as effectively as it does on a genuine PC. This is commonly a result of the program using up a lot of Mac’s CPU, which makes OBS run slower and with more problems.
OS differences are unavoidable. The variations between Mac, Windows, and Linux are what make each operating system unique and popular amongst their respective loyal users. Mac does many things better than a PC does, but unfortunately, OBS is not one of those things!
OBS & Open Source Software
To fully understand why OBS tends to work less smoothly on Mac compared to Windows, we need to explore the topic of ‘open-source software. This term is used to describe software that is free of cost, and available for anyone to download. OBS falls into this category.
Open-source software is often created by people who choose to make the code public and grant permission for other people to make changes to it if they wish. These updates are then also made public, and the thought process behind this is that it helps to develop the software and make it better for all of the users.
- Most of the programs and software that work best on a Mac are not open-source.
They fall under the category of ‘proprietary’ software, or ‘closed source software. This means that the software is the legal property of the creators, whether that be an individual or a team of programmers.
In contrast, to open-source software like OBS, proprietary software’s code is hardly ever realized to the public, and users are often required to purchase a unique license key to use it.
This is relevant when discussing how well OBS works on a Mac because open source software is updated and developed at a much faster rate than closed source software, and Mac doesn’t receive many of these updates. PCs on the other hand can be used to update OBS very easily.
The table below displays the key differences between these different software types.
|Open Source (eg. OBS)||Proprietary (eg. Logic Pro)|
|Users can change, duplicate and share the software||Users license the software and cannot make changes to it|
|Free of cost||Not free|
|Groups of people can improve and update the software||The creator or rights holder is in charge of the updates and development of the software|
Why is my OBS lagging?
There are several potential causes for lagging when using OBS. These commonly include issues with network latency or an overload of your GPU. Thankfully, these issues can usually be solved.
What are the optimal system requirements for OBS?
Ideally, OBS users should preferably have either an Intel i5 2000-series processor or an AMD FX processor. The graphics card should be capable of DirectX10, and there should be at least 4GB of RAM for optimal performance.
Is OBS good for mixing audio?
One of OBS’ greatest strengths is its ability to mix and process audio when live streaming. The program allows you to create individual mixes of the audio from your streams, adjust the dynamics and use the onboard audio mixing tools.