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Second Life Quickstart

Rand Linden




Before you start

Important: You must install a standalone program, the Second Life Viewer, to enjoy the rich 3D content in Second Life.  The installation process is quick and easy, but your computer must meet the System Requirements. Second Life will not run on systems that fail to meet these requirements.

Registering for and installing Second Life

Follow this quick four-step process to register for and install Second Life.

1. Choose an avatar 

choose avatar.png

This is how YOU will appear in Second Life. You can choose from a wide selection of avatars, including people, animals, robots, and even vehicles.  

If you change your mind later, don't worry—you can select a different avatar any time you want!  Once you learn Second Life, you can also customize your avatar to your heart's delight, or pick from a vast selection on Second Life Marketplace.

2. Create a username

create username.png

Your username is the account name that you use to log in to Second Life.  It has to be unique, so you may not get to choose a simple or common name.

Later, you can also choose a display name that everyone sees in addition to your username.

For more information, see Usernames and Display names.


Warning: Choose your username carefully! Once chosen, you can't change it. Although you can designate a "display name," your username will still be visible, and others may use it to refer to you.

3. Select an account type

select account.png

Choose a free basic account, or sign up for a premium account for as little as $6 per month.  

With a premium account, you get your own private Linden Home (if you're at least 18 years old), virtual currency rewards, exclusive virtual goods, and many other benefits.  For more information on premium accounts, see Premium membership in the Second Life Knowledge Base.

If you choose a basic account now, you can always upgrade to premium membership later.

4. Download Second Life

download SL.png

To enjoy the rich 3D content in Second Life, you must download and install the Second Life Viewer, an application that runs on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.  Most web browsers will download the installer automatically; if that does not happen, just click Download & Install Second Life.

You may need to run the installer program explicitly.


Your first steps inworld

Now that you've registered for Second Life and installed the Second Life Viewer, you're ready to start your adventure in the virtual world—or "inworld," as we call it.

Logging in

Start the Second Life Viewer and then log in to Second Life by entering the username and password you selected when you registered. If you have problems logging in, see Login failure in the Second Life Knowledge Base.

Welcome Island no text.png
The first time you log in, you will be in an area known as Welcome Island, set up especially for new users. Follow the signs and simple instructions to learn the basic skills you'll need.
The following sections describe the most important parts of the Viewer and how to get the most out of your experience.
To help you get going, I'll give you a quick introduction to the Second Life Viewer, the program you use to experience Second Life.


Quickstart Viewer Overvew no text.png
The forward and back buttons work just like those in a web browser to return to a place you've been.
Shows where you are in Second Life and information about the location.
Volume and media controls.
The bottom and left toolbars provide handy buttons for common tasks. Right-click to customize the toolbars.
One of the first buttons you'll need is the "How To" button below: Click for quick help on basic tasks.
Pick a complete avatar
Change your appearance
Your inventory
Landmarks & Places
Nearby voice
Text chat with nearby people.
Talk with people: See Using voice chat.
Find cool places to visit.
See more about nearby people and friends.
View and edit your SL profile.
Change your perspective.
Movement controls.


Basic skills

Some of the first things you'll want to learn how to do include:


walk5.jpgThere are three ways to make your avatar walk:

  • Click to walk. Simply click on the ground at the point to which you want to go.  If your mouse pointer turns into a hand instead of an arrow, you won't move but will instead interact with an object.  See Interacting with objects.
  • Use the arrow keys. The up-arrow ↑ and down-arrow ↓ keys walk you forward and backward, respectively.  The left-arrow ← and right-arrow → keys turn you left and right, respectively.
  • Use the W, S, A, and D keys. The W and S keys make you walk forward and backward. The A and D keys turn you left and right, respectively.  Make sure you click inworld first so that the chat field doesn't have focus.  Otherwise, you'll be typing chat text instead of walking.


To run forward, simply double-click the W or up-arrow ↑ key. To run backward, double-click S or the down-arrow ↓ key.


fly1.jpgFlying in Second Life is really fun, and it lets you move around much faster than you can by walking or running.

To fly, press and hold the Page Up key or the E key.  Press and hold the Page Down key or the C key to land.

Use the same keys to move through the air as you do to walk.

Note: Some regions don't allow flying. In these areas, you'll see this icon in the location bar no flying.png and you won't be able to fly.  

Keyboard shortcuts 

See Keyboard shortcuts for a quick reference guide.

Changing your view

view.pngBy default, your view is from directly behind and slightly above your avatar.  However, it's often useful to see things from a different viewpoint!

There are several ways to change your view:

  • To rotate your view, click and drag anywhere on the world. NOTE: If your mouse pointer turns into a hand before you click, then you'll interact with the object instead of rotating your view.
  • To zoom in, press and hold the Alt key, then click and drag your mouse; or use your mouse wheel.
  • To orbit, press and hold the Alt and Control keys, then click and drag your mouse. 
  • Click the View button and use the controls, shown at left. 

To return to the default view, press the Esc key.

Text chatting

nearby chat no text.png
Click to show recent chat history.

Click the Chat button (by default in the bottom toolbar) to text chat with people nearby.  Everyone within twenty meters of you will be able to see what you type.

To shout, press Control-Enter instead of Enter after typing your chat text.  Everyone within 100 meters will be able to see what you type.

Click the triangle icon in the chat field to show recent chat history. 

Mouse over names in chat history and then click on the  i icon.pngicon for more options. 

Changing your avatar

Click Avatar avatar button.png to change your avatar to one of the free provided avatars.  You'll be able to choose from a wide variety of people, robots, animals, and even vehicles.  For information on customizing your avatar, see Editing your appearance

Interacting with objects

sit here.png

To interact with any object you encounter, right-click it and select from the menu of actions and tools, as shown for example at right.  

sit icon.png

Some objects (such as furniture) automatically provide a "sit" icon when you mouse over them.  Simply click on the object to sit on it. To stand up again, just click the Stand button that appears near the bottom of the window.

If your mouse cursor turns into a hand when over an object, you may be able to interact with the object by clicking on it.  In some cases, clicking performs an action (such as turning on a light switch); sometimes, the object displays a special menu that lets you select from a variety of actions.

flower vase.pngWhen you hover your mouse cursor over an object, you may also see an information box, for example as illustrated at left.  Click on the i icon.png icon for additional options.

Finding out more about nearby people

mouseover cropped.pngTo find out about those nearby, mouse over their avatars and click the i icon.pngicon that appears.

Context Menu.png

You'll get an information box with:

  • Their avatar name and how long they've been in Second Life.
  • Profile "biography" information (if they've added it).
  • Voice chat volume control for that person only.
  • Add Friend button, to send a friendship request. See Making friends.
  • Profile button, to see the person's profile. See Using Profiles.

Click the gear icon.png for additional options, as illustrated at left.

Controlling inworld media

media controls no text.png
Click to start or stop media
Volume control

Many areas in Second Life have music playing for ambience, or video displayed on an inworld surface.  Use the controls in the upper right of the Viewer window to control the volume of the audio or, if you like, to turn it off entirely.

Mouse over any inworld surface displaying video or other media to show special media controls.

Finding cool stuff to see and do

dest guide1.jpg

Click Destinations to see the Second Life Destination Guide.  Click on a category, then click on a destination in that category to teleport there immediately.

Go to to see more categories and destinations. 

Doing more

Once you become familiar with walking, flying, and the other basic functions, you may want to try:

Using voice chat

Tired of typing?  Use voice chat to talk to nearby people.  You'll need to set up a headset or speakers and a microphone.  Using a headset avoids annoying echoes of your own voice.

speak button no text.png
Click to voice chat

Generally, it's best to connect your audio devices before you start Second Life.  After you have connected your headset (or speakers and microphone), you may need to configure your sound devices.  To do this, choose Me > Preferences > Sound & Media.  You'll be able to select your input and output devices and change your volume setting.

Once you have configured your sound devices, simply click Speak to speak to those nearby.  Click it again to turn off your microphone.

If you're having trouble getting voice chat to work, see Voice chat FAQ.

Note: Some regions disable voice chat.  In these areas, the Speak button will be dimmed, and you won't be able to use voice chat.

Voice dots

voice dot no text.png
Voice dot

You can tell if voice is enabled and working properly because you'll see a small white dot floating above your name tag, as shown below. If other people have voice enabled, they will have voice dots as well.


Making friends

To make someone your friend, mouse over their avatar, click the i icon.png and choose Add Friend.  This person will receive a friendship request: if they accept it, then they will be on your friends list, and you will be on theirs.

How to accept or decline a friendship offer

friendship offer.png

When someone else offers you friendship, a dialog box appears in the lower-right corner of your screen.

If you click Accept, your new friend receives onscreen notification that you have accepted the friendship offer.

Click Decline to cancel the offer.  The other person receives onscreen notification that you declined the friendship offer.

Tip: Strike up a conversation or have some interaction before asking someone to be your friend—it's good manners!

Seeing nearby people and friends

People Floater.pngClick the People button to open the People window, which has four tabs:

  • NEARBY shows everyone within 100m of you.
  • MY FRIENDS shows your friends list, with those currently online shown first.
  • MY GROUPS shows information on your Second Life groups, which are like clubs.  See Groups overview for more information.
  • RECENT shows everyone with whom you recently communicated via instant message or group chat.

In all of these tabs, a person's name appears dimmed if they are not currently online.

Mouse over a person's name for additional options:

  • Click  i icon.png to see more information about the person; then click gear icon.pngfor a menu with additional actions.
  • Click profile icon.png to view the person's profile. See Using Profiles for more information.

The mini-map in the NEARBY tab shows a bird's eye view of the area you're in; the yellow dot shows your location, and the green dots represent other people. 

Zoom in and out with your mouse wheel or right-click on the map for more options.

Using profiles

Click Profile to edit your profile.  Use your profile to express your personality and interests.  You can also share things with your friends and see things they share with you, similar to social networking sites.  You can link your Second Life profile with your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other popular social networks.

To view someone else's profile, mouse over their avatar, click i icon.png, then click Profile.  You'll be able to see the things they have allowed based on their privacy settings.

To configure your privacy settings:

  • Click Profile
  • Click profile home.png to view your profile home page.
  • Click Privacy.

Moving on

Once you've mastered the basic skills covered in this article, you're ready to move on to learn the full richness of the Second Life experience.  Have a look at the Second Life User's Guide.

Most importantly, have fun!

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User Feedback

  1. Maybe the phrase "Follow this quick four-step process to register for and install Second Life." needs a link to the register page:
  2. Silly (or not) annotation about the phrase "Click the inverted triangle icon in the chat field to show recent chat history." Why "inverted", AFAIK that triangule is not inverted, it is invertd when you ant close the chat window (just my opinion LOL).
  3. In the paragraph "Interacting with objects", the image to the right is outdated.

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Thanks, Irene.  I took your suggestions #1 and #2.  I made the screenshot you mention in #3 fairly recently, but I guess I will need to retake it.



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For some time, new Residents arrive in "Destination Island xx" (xx is a number), no "Welcome Island". There is no "Follow the signs and simple instructions to learn the basic skills you'll need.".

I do not know if it's a permanent change or just a test, but ...

PS. This is not the place to express my opinion about these new first islands LOL

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Hi Irene,

Yes, we know that the "Welcome Island" stuff is now outdated.  We're trying to figure out if we have the budget to localize the changes.



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Months later of the previous answer ... there is no Welcome Island, the Guide is outdated :) It's amazing that LL don't care this Quickstart Guide, just my opinion.

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