How to use Twitch as a viewer

A group of otters float down a river, surrounded by rugged man-made mountains. A group of people emerged from a door on the mountain, holding a plate of fish with "Happy Birthday" written on it. No, this isn't your fever dream recorded in your Notes app—these are employees of a marine mammal rescue in Vancouver, Canada, and one of them is celebrating the sun's return.

The scene is just one of many videos posted by the rescue center on Twitch. Twitch is a live streaming platform where everyone from alligators at the zoo to famous gamers can share what they're doing publicly with millions of people. While most people on Twitch are watching streamers talking about League of Legends or Grand Theft Auto V, others are watching real-life animals, grooming tutorials or candid conversations between netizens. Viewers love Twitch because the live streaming element feels more intimate and informal than other video platforms like YouTube or Netflix. It's just that if you're just learning how to use Twitch as a viewer, navigating the cluttered homepage isn't exactly easy.

According to data from web traffic training company Backlinko, the number of monthly users of the streaming platform will reach 140 million by 2022, with 7.4 million users posting content every month. Reading: There are tons of streams to choose from. When the home page loads, you'll immediately see a live stream of what's most likely someone you don't know playing a game you're not familiar with, engaging in a conversation with the audience that seems filled with inside jokes. This isn’t the most popular platform for newbies, but you’ll get used to it quickly.

Even though gaming is the most popular content on Twitch, you don't have to be a Rocket League master or play Minecraft your entire life to enjoy it. You can also find live streams featuring cooking, vlogging, art, mature (i.e. 18+) chat, crafts, sports, and more. Think of Twitch as a more interactive way to watch, and a more direct way to connect with people who like the same things.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about getting into Twitch, from how to find videos you like to making friends on the platform.

How to join Twitch


Anyone can lurk on Twitch, no registration required - streaming is free - but creating an account and filling out your profile will allow you to chat with viewers during your live stream, bookmark your favorite videos, and set A wallet so you can subscribe to your favorite channels. To sign up, click the button in the upper right corner of the homepage and create a username, enter your birthday, and verify your account using the code sent via email or text message.

To subscribe to a channel, you need to load your Twitch wallet by clicking on your profile icon, then wallet, and then buy gift cards. Once you have some money in your account, you can show your support by subscribing to your favorite streamers' channels and get ad-free viewing, a private rewarded subscriber stream, messaging, and badges (these will show how long you've been subscribed) Make you stand out in the chat. Subscription prices typically start at $4.99 per month, with small savings available for longer subscriptions.

How to find your favorites on Twitch

If you're already a fan of a game, player or streamer through other social media, just look up their content directly in the search bar above. If you have learned about various popular channels through TikTok, you can browse the recommended channels bar on the left menu. Alissa, 23, who streams digital art on Twitch, said it can be helpful to find some big streamers you're more familiar with on other social media platforms before finding one on Twitch. For example, if you really like Fortnite and enjoy using Twitter, search the app for popular posts about the topic and browse the streamers and creators there, then look them up on Twitch.

If you want to find more streamers who play less popular games, you'll have to do more research. “Twitch makes recommendations based on views, so I recommend searching for smaller streamers as well (by searching for tags and scrolling through popular names) as they may be just the kind of content you like,” Alissa said.

How to use Twitch if you don't know what you like

If you're new to Twitch, it's easy to get overstimulated by all the different content and pop-ups, so having some kind of game plan can be helpful (no pun intended). If you're interested in a specific category of video games (such as role-playing games) or a specific type of streaming (such as cooking demos), search for these tags and then narrow it down to find something more specific. When you find a video you like, look at the tags and explore them. Maybe you start watching 24/7 street food cooking live streams, then follow the tags to find auditory ASMR videos, and suddenly you're in a completely different place than when you started.

Bernadette, 32, Final Fantasy IX players say another way to find content you like is to try tags that are specific to atmosphere, rather than content. "Search by tags like cozy, chatty, safe space, etc. Twitch has really improved discoverability over the past two years," she said, meaning it's easier to find videos you might like through tags and keywords.

So think about what kind of mood you're in - passively listening to someone talk about their day while you do chores, a makeup tutorial that you actually follow along with in real time, or maybe a casual chat that you actually participate in.

How to make friends on Twitch

Although interacting with other people on the platform isn't a necessary part of participation, Twitch has a huge social element thanks to the old-school chat room style comments section. After setting up your profile, you can chat with other viewers in the streamer chat room or directly with the streamer. "There are so many micro-communities on the platform, and eventually you'll start to see overlap in the people in the chat. That's my favorite thing because we all know each other, which makes the environment very welcoming and comfortable," Bernadette Tell Bustle.

If your mission is to make friends on Twitch, Bernadette recommends looking for smaller streams (under 150 viewers) where people are more likely to interact in the chat. "In those smaller streams, it's more personalized."

To make deals and become friends on Twitch, or to support your favorite streamers, connect on other social media, says Alissa. "Add people on social media and search your Twitch community through Discord servers - they're a great place to make friends, have fun and discuss common interests."