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Text chat and instant messages

Jeremy Linden

There are several types of instantaneous text communication in Second Life:

  • Local text chat, where everyone nearby inworld sees what you type.
  • Instant message (IM), where only the recipient sees what you type.
  • Group text chat, where everyone in a group to which you belong sees what you type (if the moderator allows it).  
Note: Text chat and instant messages are not encrypted.

This article explains text chat and IMs. For more information on group text chat, see Group moderation.

 Using text chat

To text chat, click the Chat button (by default in the lower toolbar) or choose Communicate > Chat

How to stop the typing animation

By default, when you type text chat, an animation plays so that your avatar appears to be typing in mid-air with an accompanying typing sound. 

To stop the typing animation and sound:

  1. Choose Me > Preferences
  2. Choose the Chat tab.
  3. Deselect Play typing animation when chatting.

Text chat emotes

You can add emotional nuances to text chat by using emotes. The following emotes affect text chat.


Beginn a line of chat with /me to phrase it from your perspective. For example, if your display name is "Professor Doc" and you enter:

/me feels delighted to emote

It appears to everyone as:

Professor Doc feels delighted to emote


Type /shout before text chat to "shout" something.  The text will be seen by everyone within a 100m radius.  You can also shout by completing your line of chat with Ctrl + Enter ↵.  


  • The text in the NEARBY CHAT window is preceded by "shouts:".
  • Your avatar plays a shouting animation.

For example, if you type

/shout Over my dead body!

The NEARBY CHAT window shows:

shouts: Over my dead body!


Type /whisper before a line of text chat to "whisper" something.  The text will be seen only by those within a 10m radius.  


  • The text in the NEARBY CHAT window is preceded by  "whispers:".
  • Your avatar plays a whispering animation

For example, if you type

/whisper I don't think so...

The NEARBY CHAT window shows:

whispers: I don't think so...

Text chat distance limits

How far away your text chat is seen depends on the type of chat and whether  you use an emote:

  • Normal text chat has a range of 20 meters; that is, you must be standing within 20 meters of the source to hear the chat. To use normal text chat, input your text into the chat field, then press Enter.
  • Shouted text chat has a range of 100 meters.
  • Whispered text has a range of 10 meters. 
  • Instant messages, group chats and friend conferences have no distance limitations. The recipients will see the text regardless of where they are inworld.

Automatic text chat translation

You can set up the Second Life Viewer to automatically translate text chat into the language of your choosing. You must set up an account with Google or Bing to enable text chat translation.  Previously, Google provided free translation services, but this has now ended, and you must establish your own account with Bing or Google which may incur a cost.

Choose Me > Preferences > Chat, then click Chat Translation Settings to display the CHAT TRANSLATION SETTINGS window.


Sending instant messages (IMs)

Instant messaging (IM) is a private way to communicate with individuals or groups to which you belong. You can IM any Resident, no matter where they are, inworld or offline, at any time, in contrast to local chat which is limited to those inworld at the same time.

How to start an IM conversation

Start an IM conversation with a person in any of these ways:

  • Right-click a nearby avatar and choose IM.
  • Alternatively:
    1. Mouse over a nearby avatar
    2. Click Info_Over.png 
    3. Click gear2.jpg
    4. Choose IM.
  • Click the People button in the toolbar, then in the NEARBY or MY FRIENDStab:
    1. Double-click a person's name.
    2. Choose IM.
    3. Mouse over a name
    4. Click Info_Over.png 
    5. Click gear2.jpg
    6. Choose IM.
  • In a person's profile:
    1. Click mailbox2.jpg
    2. Choose IM.
  • Click search1.jpg to open the Search window, then:
    1. Select People in the dropdown.
    2. Enter your search term and click Search.
    3. In the search results, click  IM under the desired person.

To put more than one person in the same IM conversation, see Group IM sessions.

Getting IMs when you are not logged in

By default, if you get an IM and are not logged in, Second Life emails the IM to you offline at the email address specified in your contact information. You can change this preference in your Second Life dashboard or the Viewer.

On the Web:

  1. Log in to your dashboard.
  2. On the left, click Account, then click Contact Information.
  3. Enter your current password for verification purposes. 
  4. Check or uncheck I would like to receive offline IMs via Email.
  5. Click Save Changes.

In the Second Life Viewer:

  1. Choose Me > Preferences.
  2. Click the Chat tab.
  3. Select Email me IMs when I'm offline.

Replying to IM emails

If you reply via email to an IM, the original sender receives an IM. You still receive the forwarded IMs the next time you log in (up to 25), but you do not see any replies you've made via email. When replying to an IM by email, the message is limited to 1023 characters, and you must reply within five days.

Group IM sessions

As a member of a group, you send IMs to everyone in the group.  To do this, double-click your group's name in the People window to open an IM session with all online group members or choose Communicate > My Groups.  For more information, see  Group moderation.

Ad-hoc conferences

In addition to individual and group IMs, you can also create an ad-hoc IM conference among a set of your friends.

To start an ad hoc IM conference:

  1. Click the People button on the toolbar.
  2. Click the MY FRIENDS section.
  3. Use Shift-click or Ctrl-Click to select friends for your IM conference.
  4. Click the IM or Call button.
  5. Type something in the IM chat box to start your IM conference.
  6. Press your Enter key.
Note: Ad-hoc conferences are limited to twenty participants.

IM backlogs

If you receive an IM and are not logged in, the IM goes into a "backlog" that appears as a set of notification icons in the upper right of your Viewer when you log in.

The backlog can contain up to 25 IMs, including inventory transfers, group invitations, and group notifications. If someone gives you an inventory item (generating an IM message), the message lands in your inventory's Trash folder, and you can rescue it when you return. If a scripted object sends the inventory, it is deleted immediately.

Second Life retains IMs in the backlog for 31 days. If you do not log in within 31 days to view your IMs, they are no longer available.

Scripted objects limit

An object may send up to 5000 IMs per hour. 

Chat and IM logs

By default, Second Life automaticallys saves local chat and IM conversations to log files on your hard drive.

Log files

Log files are saved to a location that depends on you operating system:

  • Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Application Data\SecondLife\Avatarname\chat.txt
  • Windows 7 and Vista: C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\SecondLife\chat.txt
  • Mac OSX: Users/Username/Library/Application Support/SecondLife/Avatarname/chat.txt

Where Username is your system account name and Avatarname is your Second Life username.

Important: You may need to enable your file browser's ability to view hidden files to access your chat logs at their default location. 

Changing log file location


To change where chat log files are stored:

  1. Choose Me > Preferences on the menu bar.
  2. Choose the Privacy tab.
  3. The Location of logs field shows the path to the chat log file. 
  4. Click Browse to change the location.
  5. Click OK.
Note: This does not change the location of your existing log files. To keep appending to your current logs, move them to the new location.

Additional chat log settings

In this window, you can also set the following options:

  • Save nearby chat logs on my computer - whether the Viewer saves nearby text chat logs.
  • Save IM logs on my computer - whether the Viewer saves IM chat logs (both one-on-one and group chats).
  • Add timestamp - Inserts the time and date on each line of logged chat.
  • Add datestamp to log file name - Appends the date to the name of the log file.

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User Feedback

The paragraph about "Where are chat and IM stored?" needs outdate the explanation and include Windows 7 (and maybe Windows Vista).

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<p>Some updates are necessary.</p><p>- The <a target="_self" href="/t5/English-Knowledge-Base/Text-chat-and-instant-messages/ta-p/700155#Section_.3.1">'Log files'-Section</a> shows for Windows 7 an incomplete pathname. Maybe this performs:</p><p><strong>Windows 7 and Vista</strong>: <font face="courier new,courier">%APPDATA%\SecondLife\<em>Avatarname</em>\</font></p><p>- The '<a target="_self" href="/t5/English-Knowledge-Base/Text-chat-and-instant-messages/ta-p/700155#Section_.3.2">Changing log file location</a>'-image need an update too, due the function is now under 'Chat'</p><p>here is one image</p><p>Ciao</p><p>Dil :)</p><p><img alt="" src border="0"></p>

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