Command-Line Interface

The CLI can be used to either pipe streams to a video player for playback or download them directly to a file.


The CLI is designed to be as simple as possible to use, in two or less steps you can start playback of your favorite stream in a desktop video player such as VLC or mpv.

Let’s say you want to watch the stream located on, you start off by telling Livestreamer where to to find information about your stream by giving the URL to the command livestreamer as the first argument.

You do not need to include the protocol when dealing with HTTP URLs, just will do.

$ livestreamer
[cli][info] Found matching plugin twitch for URL
Available streams: audio, high, low, medium, mobile (worst), source (best)

Livestreamer will find out what streams are available and print them out for you to choose from. Simply give livestreamer the stream as the second argument and playback will start in your video player of choice.

The words printed next to stream names within a parantheses are synonyms and can be used when selecting stream to play. In this case the best stream is a reference to the stream that is considered to be of highest quality, e.g. source.

$ livestreamer best
[cli][info] Found matching plugin twitch for URL
[cli][info] Opening stream: source
[cli][info] Starting player: vlc

The default player is VLC, but it can be easily changed using the --player option.

Now that you have a basic grasp of how Livestreamer works, you may want to look into customizing it to your own needs, such as:

Configuration file

Writing the command-line options every time is painful, that’s why Livestreamer is capable of reading options from a configuration file instead. Livestreamer will look for config files in different locations depending on your platform:

Platform Location
Unix-like (POSIX)
  • $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/livestreamer/config
  • ~/.livestreamerrc
Windows %APPDATA%\livestreamer\livestreamerrc


  • $XDG_CONFIG_HOME is ~/.config if it has not been overridden
  • %APPDATA% is usually <your user directory>\Application Data

You can also specify the location yourself using the --config option.


The file should contain one command-line option (omitting the dashes) per line in this format:



Any quotes used will be part of the value, so only use when necessary.


# Player options
player=mpv --cache 2048

# Authenticate with Twitch

Plugin specific configuration file

You may want to use specific options for some plugins only. This can be accomplished by placing those settings inside a plugin specific config file. Options inside these config files will override the main config file when a URL matching the plugin is used.

Livestreamer expects this config to be named like the main config but with .<plugin name> attached to the end.


Platform Location
Unix-like (POSIX)
  • $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/livestreamer/config.twitch
  • ~/.livestreamerrc.ustreamtv
Windows %APPDATA%\livestreamer\

Have a look at the list of plugins to see the name of each built-in plugin.

Plugin specific usage

Authenticating with Twitch

It’s possible to access subscription content on Twitch by giving Livestreamer access to your account.

Authentication is done by creating an OAuth token that Livestreamer will use to access your account. It’s done like this:

$ livestreamer --twitch-oauth-authenticate

This will open a web browser where Twitch will ask you if you want to give Livestreamer permission to access your account, then forwards you to a page with further instructions on how to use it.

Authenticating with Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll requires authenticating with a premium account to access some of their content. To do so, the plugin provides a couple of options to input your information, --crunchyroll-username and --crunchyroll-password.

You can login like this:

$ livestreamer --crunchyroll-username=xxxx --crunchyroll-password=xxx


If you omit the password, livestreamer will ask for it.

Once logged in, the plugin makes sure to save the session credentials to avoid asking your username and password again.

Neverthless, these credentials are valid for a limited amount of time, so it might be a good idea to save your username and password in your configuration file anyway.


The API this plugin uses isn’t supposed to be available to use it on computers. The plugin tries to blend in as a valid device using custom headers and following the API usual flow (e.g. reusing credentials), but this does not assure that your account will be safe from being spotted for unusual behavior.

HTTP proxy with Crunchyroll

You can use the --http-proxy and --https-proxy options (you need both since the plugin uses both protocols) to access the Crunchyroll servers through a proxy to be able to stream region locked content.

When doing this, it’s very probable that you will get denied to access the stream; this occurs because the session and credentials used by the plugin where obtained when logged from your own region, and the server still assumes you’re in that region.

For this, the plugin provides the --crunchyroll-purge-credentials option, which removes your saved session and credentials and tries to log in again using your username and password.

Sideloading plugins

Livestreamer will attempt to load standalone plugins from these directories:

Platform Location
Unix-like (POSIX) $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/livestreamer/plugins
Windows %APPDATA%\livestreamer\plugins


If a plugin is added with the same name as a built-in plugin then the added plugin will take precedence. This is useful if you want to upgrade plugins independently of the Livestreamer version.

Playing built-in streaming protocols directly

There are many types of streaming protocols used by services today and Livestreamer supports most of them. It’s possible to tell Livestreamer to access a streaming protocol directly instead of relying on a plugin to extract the streams from a URL for you.

A protocol can be accessed directly by specifying it in the URL format:

protocol://path [key=value]

Accessing a stream that requires extra parameters to be passed along (e.g. RTMP):

$ livestreamer "rtmp:// live=1 swfVfy="

Most streaming technologies simply requires you to pass a HTTP URL, this is a Adobe HDS stream:

$ livestreamer hds://

Supported streaming protocols

Name Prefix
Adobe HTTP Dynamic Streaming hds://
Akamai HD Adaptive Streaming akamaihd://
Apple HTTP Live Streaming hls:// hlsvariant://
Real Time Messaging Protocol rtmp:// rtmpe:// rtmps:// rtmpt:// rtmpte://
Progressive HTTP, HTTPS, etc httpstream://

Command-line usage

$ livestreamer [OPTIONS] [URL] [STREAM]

Positional arguments


A URL to attempt to extract streams from.

If it’s a HTTP URL then “http://” can be omitted.


Stream to play.

Use “best” or “worst” for highest or lowest quality available.

Fallback streams can be specified by using a comma-separated list:


If no stream is specified and --default-stream is not used then a list of available streams will be printed.

General options

-h, --help

Show this help message and exit.

-V, --version

Show version number and exit.


Print a list of all currently installed plugins.

--config FILENAME

Load options from this config file.

Can be repeated to load multiple files, in which case the options are merged on top of each other where the last config has highest priority.

-l LEVEL, --loglevel LEVEL

Set the log message threshold.

Valid levels are: none, error, warning, info, debug

-Q, --quiet

Hide all log output.

Alias for “--loglevel none”.

-j, --json

Output JSON representations instead of the normal text output.

Useful for external scripting.


Do not check for new Livestreamer releases.

Player options

-p COMMAND, --player COMMAND

Player to feed stream data to. This is a shell-like syntax to support passing options to the player. For example:

"vlc --file-caching=5000"

To use a player that is located in a path with spaces you must quote the path:

"'/path/with spaces/vlc' --file-caching=5000"

By default VLC will be used if it can be found in its default location.

-a ARGUMENTS, --player-args ARGUMENTS

This option allows you to customize the default arguments which are put together with the value of --player to create a command to execute.

Formatting variables available:

This is the filename that the player will use. It’s usually “-” (stdin), but can also be a URL or a file depending on the options used.

It’s usually enough to use --player instead of this unless you need to add arguments after the filename.

Default is: “{filename}”.

-v, --verbose-player

Allow the player to display its console output.

-n, --player-fifo, --fifo

Make the player read the stream through a named pipe instead of the stdin pipe.


Make the player read the stream through HTTP instead of the stdin pipe.


Make the player read the stream through HTTP, but unlike --player-http it will continuously try to open the stream if the player requests it.

This makes it possible to handle stream disconnects if your player is capable of reconnecting to a HTTP stream. This is usually done by setting your player to a “repeat mode”.


Some stream types may end up looping the last part of a stream once or twice when it ends. This is caused by a lack of shared state between attempts to use a stream and may be fixed in the future.

--player-passthrough TYPES

A comma-delimited list of stream types to pass to the player as a URL to let it handle the transport of the stream instead.

Stream types that can be converted into a playable URL are:

  • hls
  • http
  • rtmp

Make sure your player can handle the stream type when using this.


By default Livestreamer will close the player when the stream ends. This is to avoid “dead” GUI players lingering after a stream ends.

It does however have the side-effect of sometimes closing a player before it has played back all of its cached data.

This option will instead let the player decide when to exit.

File output options


Write stream data to FILENAME instead of playing it.

You will be prompted if the file already exists.

-f, --force

When using -o, always write to file even if it already exists.

-O, --stdout

Write stream data to stdout instead of playing it.

Stream options

--default-stream STREAM

Open this stream when no stream argument is specified, e.g. “best”.

--retry-streams DELAY

Will retry fetching streams until streams are found while waiting DELAY (seconds) between each attempt.

--retry-open ATTEMPTS

Will try ATTEMPTS times to open the stream until giving up.

Default is: 1.

--stream-types TYPES, --stream-priority TYPES

A comma-delimited list of stream types to allow.

The order will be used to separate streams when there are multiple streams with the same name but different stream types.

Default is: “rtmp,hls,hds,http,akamaihd”.

--stream-sorting-excludes STREAMS

Fine tune best/worst synonyms by excluding unwanted streams.

Uses a filter expression in the format:


Valid operators are >, >=, < and <=. If no operator is specified then equality is tested.

For example this will exclude streams ranked higher than “480p”:


Multiple filters can be used by separating each expression with a comma.

For example this will exclude streams from two quality types:


Stream transport options

--hds-live-edge SECONDS

The time live HDS streams will start from the edge of stream.

Default is: 10.0.

--hds-segment-attempts ATTEMPTS

How many attempts should be done to download each HDS segment before giving up.

Default is: 3.

--hds-segment-timeout TIMEOUT

HDS segment connect and read timeout.

Default is: 10.0.

--hds-timeout TIMEOUT

Timeout for reading data from HDS streams.

Default is: 60.0.

--hls-live-edge SEGMENTS

How many segments from the end to start live HLS streams on.

The lower the value the lower latency from the source you will be, but also increases the chance of buffering.

Default is: 3.

--hls-segment-attempts ATTEMPTS

How many attempts should be done to download each HLS segment before giving up.

Default is: 3.

--hls-segment-timeout TIMEOUT

HLS segment connect and read timeout.

Default is: 10.0.

--hls-timeout TIMEOUT

Timeout for reading data from HLS streams.

Default is: 60.0.

--http-stream-timeout TIMEOUT

Timeout for reading data from HTTP streams.

Default is: 60.0.

--ringbuffer-size SIZE

The maximum size of ringbuffer. Add a M or K suffix to specify mega or kilo bytes instead of bytes.

The ringbuffer is used as a temporary storage between the stream and the player. This is to allows us to download the stream faster than the player wants to read it.

The smaller the size, the higher chance of the player buffering if there are download speed dips and the higher size the more data we can use as a storage to catch up from speed dips.

It also allows you to temporary pause as long as the ringbuffer doesn’t get full since we continue to download the stream in the background.


A smaller size is recommended on lower end systems (such as Raspberry Pi) when playing stream types that require some extra processing (such as HDS) to avoid unnecessary background processing.

Default is: “16M”.

--rtmp-proxy PROXY, --rtmpdump-proxy PROXY

A SOCKS proxy that RTMP streams will use.


--rtmp-rtmpdump FILENAME, --rtmpdump FILENAME, -r FILENAME

RTMPDump is used to access RTMP streams. You can specify the location of the rtmpdump executable if it is not in your PATH.

Example: “/usr/local/bin/rtmpdump”

--rtmp-timeout TIMEOUT

Timeout for reading data from RTMP streams.

Default is: 60.0.


If possible, translate the stream to a URL and print it.

--subprocess-cmdline, --cmdline, -c

Print command-line used internally to play stream.

This is only available on RTMP streams.

--subprocess-errorlog, --errorlog, -e

Log possible errors from internal subprocesses to a temporary file. The file will be saved in your systems temporary directory.

Useful when debugging rtmpdump related issues.

HTTP options

--http-proxy HTTP_PROXY

A HTTP proxy to use for all HTTP requests.

Example: http://hostname:port/

--https-proxy HTTPS_PROXY

A HTTPS capable proxy to use for all HTTPS requests.

Example: http://hostname:port/

--http-cookies COOKIES

A semi-colon delimited list of cookies to add to each HTTP request.

For example this will add the cookies “foo” and “baz”:

"foo=bar; baz=qux"
--http-headers HEADERS

A semi-colon delimited list of headers to add to each HTTP request.

For example this will add the headers “X-Forwarded-For” and “User-Agent”:

"X-Forwarded-For=; User-Agent=foo"
--http-query-params PARAMS

A semi-colon delimited list of query parameters to add to each HTTP request.

For example this will add the query parameters “foo” and “baz”:

"foo=bar; baz=qux"

Ignore HTTP settings set in the environment such as environment variables (HTTP_PROXY, etc) or ~/.netrc authentication.


Don’t attempt to verify SSL certificates.

Usually a bad idea, only use this if you know what you’re doing.

--http-ssl-cert FILENAME

SSL certificate to use.

Expects a .pem file.

--http-ssl-cert-crt-key CRT_FILENAME KEY_FILENAME

SSL certificate to use.

Expects a .crt and a .key file.

--http-timeout TIMEOUT

General timeout used by all HTTP requests except the ones covered by other options.

Default is: 20.0.

Plugin options

--plugin-dirs DIRECTORY

Attempts to load plugins from these directories.

Multiple directories can be used by separating them with a semi-colon.

--twitch-oauth-token TOKEN

An OAuth token to use for Twitch authentication. Use --twitch-oauth-authenticate to create a token.


Open a web browser where you can grant Livestreamer access to your Twitch account which creates a token for use with --twitch-oauth-token.

Twitch/ cookies to authenticate to allow access to subscription channels.


"_twitch_session_id=xxxxxx; persistent=xxxxx"


This method is the old and clunky way of authenticating with Twitch, using --twitch-oauth-authenticate is the recommended and simpler way of doing it now.

--jtv-password PASSWORD, --twitch-password PASSWORD

A password to access password protected Twitch/ channels.

--ustream-password PASSWORD

A password to access password protected channels.

--crunchyroll-username USERNAME

A Crunchyroll username to allow access to restricted streams.

--crunchyroll-password [PASSWORD]

A Crunchyroll password for use with --crunchyroll-username.

If left blank you will be prompted.


Purge cached Crunchyroll credentials to initiate a new session and reauthenticate.

--livestation-email EMAIL

A Livestation account email to access restricted or premium quality streams.

--livestation-password PASSWORD

A Livestation account password to use with --livestation-email.