“Video output is currently active” Error Message In OBS

I do not know a single person who likes error messages. But they serve an important purpose. They tell you when something has gone wrong. If you have tried changing your OBS Studio video settings, you might have found the options greyed out with the following error message at the bottom: “Video output is currently active. Please turn off any outputs to change video settings.”

“Video output is currently active. Please turn off any outputs to change video settings” is one of the most irritating error messages because it barely gives you pointers on how to fix the problem. It means that your OBS program is currently recording or streaming. 

What is Video output in OBS?

Video output is any footage that is transmitted by OBS Studio over the internet or encoded onto your computer’s hard drive. Output in OBS is usually already compressed instead of being just raw footage. 

Video output is captured by webcams or other attached cameras or by screen recordings in the event of screencasting. Any audio commentary is considered part of this video output.

Where are the output settings on OBS Studio?

Output settings on OBS Studio determine the quality of the final video that’s streamed or encoded. You need output settings to create a balance between the video output, the processing power of your computer, and network bandwidth.

Let’s use this as an example. The ultimate best video you can make with commonly available technology (camera, computers, and processing software) is a 60 fps 1920 by 1080p HD video. There are higher video resolutions like 4K but those require specialized equipment to both create and view. The average computer or phone screen doesn’t have 4K resolution. Only high-end TVs do. And the human eye can barely distinguish between 4K and HD anyway.

Now, 60 fps 1920 by 1080p HD video requires a lot of processing power to encode and space to store. If your computer is not powerful enough, it’s going to struggle, and might even crash. There might also be trouble on the users’ end. A 60 fps video takes up double the space of a 30 fps video. 

A large video file takes quite a while to buffer, especially on slow internet connections. This severely impacts the viewing experience. While a site like Youtube often automatically adjusts a video’s frame rate and resolution depending on a user’s internet speed, this is not a universal practice.

What’s even more enlightening is that you do not need a high frame rate unless you’re showing things like Formula 1 races where there’s a lot of motion. 24 fps is fast enough to show fluid motion. Nearly all videos are shot at 24-30 fps.

You can also adjust other settings like resolution. If you’re just broadcasting a screencast, then a resolution of 0f 1280 by 720p is often good enough. It showcases your screen in clear detail and only requires half the storage space of a full HD video. Playing with your output settings helps create a balance between video quality,  video file size, and computing power. 

What causes the “Video output is currently active” Error Message in OBS Studio?

The error message is caused by an ongoing recording or streaming session. If you’re still getting the message after turning off your stream then there’s a plugin running in the background that’s still recording, usually NDI or virtual camera. 

Both of these plugins often run video processes in the background. NDI allows you to use your phone with OBS Studio while VirtualCam allows the use of OBS Studio as a video source. VirtualCam also happens to have auto start enabled by default.

How to fix “Video output is currently active” error message on OBS?

  • Turn off any recording or streaming

This is the first step. You can’t change settings while you’re still recording or streaming. Think of it like you would a car. You can’t change your tire while driving at 200 miles an hour down the highway. You have to stop, pull over, and get the jack out of the trunk first.

  • Check your plugins

Some OBS Studio plugins are very popular due to the increased functionality they offer. 

The NDI plugin, for example, allows for the easy bi-directional transmission of data over a network. This feature allows you to connect the OBS program on your computer with other devices like your phone. This way, you can use your phone camera instead of being limited to your PC or laptop’s webcam.

The virtual camera plugin allows you to send video feed directly from OBS Studio to video calling applications like Google Meet, Zoom, Discord, Skype, and many others. Its benefits are endless.

These plugins tend to run in the background, however. VirtualCam, for example, often autostarts. That means it’s up and running every time you launch OBS. With these plugins running, you’re technically still in the middle of a recording session even if you may not be streaming anything. 

If you get the  “Video output is currently active” error message, check your plugins and turn them off.  If you have autostart enabled on your virtual camera, uncheck the option to prevent future issues.

  • How to remove plugins from OBS

For NDI: 

  • On the menu bar of OBS Studio, click on “Tools”. 
  • On the drop-down menu, click on “NDI Output Settings.” 
  • In the dialog box that appears, uncheck “Main Output” and “Preview Output” then click “OK.”

For virtual camera:

  • On the menu bar of OBS Studio, click on “Tools”. 
  • On the drop-down menu, click on “VirtualCam.” 
  • In the dialog box that appears, uncheck “Auto Starts” and then click “Stop.”