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How to fix the black screen on OBS?

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  • 10 min read

You can ask any person who streams anything using their PC, and they’ll tell you OBS is one of the most popular and easy to use software you can use to stream.

However, that opinion is reserved mostly for PC people. Should you try to stream using OBS from a laptop, you’ll have a bit of a different opinion. 

You see, unlike desktops, most laptops have two GPUs. An integrated GPU that runs low power tasks like playing videos, running browsers or rendering your desktop, and then a high performance, dedicated GPU takes care of all the heavy lifting.

Now that’s all well until OBS gets in the picture. You see, programs can only run on one of the two GPUs at a time. This means that if your game is running on the dedicated GPU and OBS on the integrated one, OBS won’t be able to ‘see’ anything, and you’d end up with the infamous black screen.

So let’s take a look at how to fix OBS black screen error.

Also read: How to record with OBS? Where are OBS recordings saved?

What causes the OBS black screen error?

There are a number of reasons why OBS might show a black screen, the most common one being GPU conflicts between the dedicated and integrated GPUs. Some other reasons are as follows.

  • GPU conflict: If you’re running OBS using one GPU and the application you’re trying to capture on the other, you’ll end up with a black screen inside of OBS.
  • Admin privileges: Since OBS captures your entire screen, it’s very possible that your computer might restrict the program’s access. 
  • Conflicts between application versions: OBS installs two versions of itself, one for 32-bit machines and the other for 64-bit machines. If you’re running the wrong version, you’re most likely see a black screen. 
  • Compatibility issues: Compatibility issues between OBS and Windows can also cause black screens.
  • Conflicting software: If you’re running another capture software on your machine, OBS won’t be able to capture anything, resulting in a black screen. 
  • Overclocking: Overclocking has known to have conflicts with software. This could be a rare one but it is one of the reasons you can face this issue.
  • Capturing options: OBS can capture your screen or programs in a number of ways such as fullscreen, borderless or windowed. If you’re using the wrong option, you’ll end up with this issue.
  • PC in an error state: Sometimes, your PC might just be in an error state. Rebooting your machine can fix this. 

Also read: How to remove the ‘Activate Windows’ Watermark?

12 ways to fix OBS black screen error

The solution here is actually rather simple. There are a couple of ways you can tackle this problem — your approach may or may not impact OBSs’ performance. Here are 12 ways you can fix OBS black screen error.

The universal approach

As you can guess, using this method, you’ll be able to record or stream just about anything you want.

However, depending upon your laptop’s configuration and how OBS is set up, you might have some performance impacts, especially while streaming. 

Step 1: Open the Nvidia Control Panel from the toolbar in your taskbar.

How to fix the black screen on OBS? | Candid.Technology
My apologies to AMD people, please figure out where your control panel is

Step 2: Inside the control panel, go over to the Program Settings tab under Manage 3D settings. 

Step 3: Under Select a Program to customise, select OBS studio and right under it, select Integrated Graphics as the preferred graphics processor. 

Now when that’s done, all you need to do inside of OBS is to use the Display Capture for anything you want to record or stream, and this should fix the OBS black screen error

Also read: How to add alerts to OBS?

The performance approach

If you see too big a performance drop on the first approach, here’s what you can do to improve that. 

Do keep in mind that this method depends heavily on your GPU and how OBS is set up. Your mileage may vary. 

Repeating step 3 from our last approach, all we need to do is select our dedicated GPU instead of the integrated one. 

Now all you need to do is select Game Capture instead of Display Capture inside of OBS. Note that you won’t capture your display or any program that runs on your integrated GPU with this approach. 

Check out this article about setting up OBS on a laptop for more insight on how to tackle this problem, 

Power cycle your machine

Power cycling your PC before you dive into complex solutions can save you a lot of time and effort. Just turn your PC off, disconnect the power outlet, and if you’re using a laptop, remove the battery if you can. 

Press and hold the power button for about two or three seconds and then wait for a few minutes. Restart your PC, and the OBS black screen issue should be resolved.

Disable any overclocking

If you’re overclocking your CPU or GPU, it could well be causing issues with OBS. We recommend turning off any overclocking you’ve trying to rerun OBS. If you’re not getting the black screen anymore, the overclocking settings you’ve applied to your machine have something to do with the error. 

Select the correct OBS version

OBS comes packaged in two versions, one for 32-bit machines and the other for 64-bit machines. You need to make sure that you’re using the correct version corresponding to your OS’s architecture. 

If you use the wrong one, you’ll run into many issues, including the infamous black screen. 

Also read: How to update OBS?

Use admin privileges

Running OBS with admin privileges can also help get rid of the black screen issue. 

Step 1: Press the Windows key and search for OBS. Click on Open file location from the right pane.

Step 2: Right-click the executable file and click Properties.

Step 3: Unde the Compatibility tab, check the Run this program as an administrator checkbox. 

Also read: How to fix the ‘SonyLiv not working on Chrome’ issue?

Change compatibility modes

Running OBS in Windows 7 or 8 compatibility modes can also help eliminate the black screen issue.

Step 1: Press the Windows key and search for OBS. Click on Open file location from the right pane.

Step 2: Right-click the executable file and click Properties.

Step 3: Under the Compatibility tab, check the Run this program in compatibility mode for checkbox and select either Windows 7 or 8 from the list. 

Change drive permission settings

If you’ve installed OBS in your system drive, changing the drive’s ownership to your user account can help resolve permission or access issues that could be causing the black screen.

Step 1: Press Windows key + E to open Windows Explorer. Right-click on your C drive and click Properties. 

Step 2: Head over to the Security tab and click on Edit.

Step 3: Click Authenticated users followed by the checkbox for allowing full control. 

Click Apply to save the changes. Restart your computer and try rerunning OBS. 

Also read: What is RPCS3? System Requirements

Change OBS settings

Here are a few OBS settings that you can tweak to get rid of the black screen error. 

ModeSelect according to preference/use case.
ScreenSelect according to the game/program.
PriorityDefault settings suffice.
SLI/CrossfireEnable (you can also try disabling it if it doesn’t work)
Force ScalingDisable
Framerate lockDisable
Record cursorEnable

Check conflicting software

Are you using any other screen capture programs on your PC simultaneously? Even if you’re not, having multiple such programs installed can cause them to conflict with each other, and they all might end up having OBS black screen issue.

We recommend removing any other screen capture programs from your PC and trying again. 

Step 1: Press Windows key + R to open the Run prompt. Type appwiz.cpl and hit enter.

Step 2: Look for any conflicting screen recording or streaming software that you might have installed and remove them using the Uninstall button. 

Also read: How to fix ‘Err Connection Closed’ issue?

Reinstall OBS

If nothing else works, you can try reinstalling OBS from scratch to fix the black screen error.

Step 1: Press Windows key + R to open the Run prompt. Type appwiz.cpl and hit enter

Step 2: Find OBS in the list, select it and click the Uninstall button. 

Step 3: Make sure you select the User Settings option when selecting which components to uninstall. 

Restart your computer and try downloading OBS again. 

Multi-adaptor compatibility

OBS has a feature called Multi-adaptor compatibility, which is great for computers having SLIs or Crossfire. Enabling this feature can help get rid of the OBS black screen instantly.

However, since this option isn’t available in the latest OBS version, we couldn’t source all screenshots. Follow the steps mentioned below and see if it helps fix the black screen issue in OBS.

Step 1: Launch OBS and click on the Settings gear icon under Sources.

Step 2: Check the Multi-adaptor Compatibility checkbox. Click OK to save changes.

Also read: How to fix ‘Another Computer is Using this Printer’ error?

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here:

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