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  • Text chat and instant messages

    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.


    Begin 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 100 meter radius.  You can also shout by completing your line of chat with Ctrl + Enter ↵.  


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

    For example, if you type

    /shout Hello, world!

    The Conversations window shows:

    shouts: Hello, world!


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


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

    For example, if you type

    /whisper Hello, world...

    The Conversations window shows:

    whispers: Hello, world...

    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 Translation 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.
    • Click the People button in the toolbar, then in the Nearby or My Friends tab:
      • Double-click a person's name.
      • Alternatively, right-click the person's name and choose IM
    • In a person's profile:
      1. Click Gear icon.png
      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.

    Offline instant messages and group notices

    By default, if you get an IM and are not logged in, Second Life emails the IM to you offline at the verified email address specified in your contact information. You can change this preference in your Second Life dashboard or the Viewer. (If you haven't yet verified your email address yet and would like to do so, please see Verifying your email address for instructions.)

    To enable offline IMs on the Web:

    1. Log in to your dashboard.
    2. On the left, click Account, then click Change Email Address.
    3. Check or uncheck I would like to receive offline IMs via Email.
    4. 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.
    KB - Email Preferences - Offline IMs.png

      Offline group notices

      Just like instant messages, group notices can be sent to your verified email address while you are offline. By default, this setting is unchecked, as group notices are available in-world on the Group Profile page for up to 14 days after they're sent. (For more information about working with group notices inside Second Life, please see Creating, managing, moderating and disbanding groups.)

      To enable group notices to be sent to your email address while you're offline:

      1. Log in to your dashboard.
      2. On the left, click Account, then click Change Email Address.
      3. Check or uncheck I would like to receive offline Group Notices as email.
      4. Click Save Changes.

        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 15 on a Basic account, 80 on a Premium account, and 160 for a Premium Plus member), 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 can 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 > 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 Friends section.
        3. Use Shift-click or Ctrl-Click to select friends for your IM conference.
        4. Click the Gear dropdown icon.png dropdown and choose IM or Call.
        5. Type something in the IM chat box to start your IM conference.
        6. Press Enter.
        Note: Ad-hoc conferences are limited to no more than 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 for Basic accounts, 80 IMs for Premium accounts and 160 for Premium Plus members. This includes 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 automatically 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 your operating system. If you've installed your viewer to a different location on your computer, this folder information may not be accurate. For more information on finding your installation folders, see Backing up your user settings and preferences.

        • Windows: C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\SecondLife\chat.txt
        • Mac OSX: Users/Username/Library/Application Support/SecondLife/Avatarname/chat.txt

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

        Important: Some operating systems hide technical folders like Roaming and Application Support. 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

        Chat log location.png

        To change where chat log files are stored:

        1. Choose Me > Preferences on the menu bar.
        2. Choose the Chat tab.
        3. The Location 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 - Choose from the dropdown to save the nearby chat log, IM transcripts, both, or none.
        • Clear log - Clears the nearby chat log.
        • Delete transcripts - Deletes IM transcripts.

        Change Email Address.png

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