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Text chat

Communicating using text chat

Text chat enables you to communicate with other Residents near you in Second Life by typing messages. Anyone within range can see text chat, unlike an Instant Message (IM).
Conversations Window.png

Click Chat at the bottom left of the Second Life Viewer to open the Conversations window. Enter chat into the Nearby chat field and press Enter.  By default, anyone within 20 meters of your avatar can see your message.

To stop the typing animation

To stop the typing sound and hand-waving animation:

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

Text chat with nearby people is known as local chat. In addition, you can chat with one person or a group using instant messages (IMs). For more information, see Instant messages.

Using emotes

You can add emotional nuances to text chat by using emotes. This can liven up conversation and reduce miscommunication.

This video tutorial quickly shows you how to use emotes:

As shown, there are several special prefixes for emotes:


Beginning a line of chat with /me phrases it from your perspective. For example, if your name is Torley Linden and you enter:

/me feels delighted to emote

It appears to everyone as:

Torley Linden feels delighted to emote

/shout and /whisper

These are a "hidden" emotes that aren't visibly documented in the Viewer's user interface but have worked in some capacity for years. Like /me, begin a line of chat with the trigger.

KBcaution.png Important: /shout and /whisper both autocomplete. This can conflict if you have other gestures or scripted gadgets that have triggers that begin similarly. A workaround is to backspace or paste in the command.


  • Can be heard by avatars within a 100m radius.
  • You can also shout by completing your line of chat with Ctrl+Enter ↵.
  • Shout is accompanied by an animation of your avatar cupping hands-to-mouth, similar to how you might shout in an exaggerated way in real life.
  • Appears in bold.


  • Can be heard by avatars within a 10m radius.
  • Appears in italics.


You may be familiar with emoticons such as the ever-popular smiley face :) which can be typed in the chat bar alongside any other text. There is a tremendous number of variations; for example, happiness is also expressed via ^^ , :o) , and =^_^= . Unicode symbols from other languages that appear to be emoting faces are also used, such as the popular ? from Japanese, which appears to be a diagonally-tilted happy face.

Emoticons are often used in gestures. For example, there's a gesture which uses ":)" as a trigger and automatically transforms it into the aforementioned "?".

Maximum text chat distance

Use this guide to help you determine how far you need to be from someone in order for them to hear you talking or typing.

Text chat

Text chat (as seen on the NEARBY CHAT window) comes in several different flavors, each with its own range:

  • 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, press Enter, input your text into the chat bar, and then press Enter.
  • Shouted text chat has a range of 100 meters. If you are addressing a large crowd, or someone very far away, you can use shouted text.
  • Whispered text has a range of only 10 meters. Whispered text is also used by objects that are running Resident-created scripts; oftentimes scripted vending machines will whisper so as not to disturb other shoppers.
  • Instant messages, group chats and friend conferences have no arbitrary distance limitations. You can send an instant message to someone who is anywhere in Second Life!
KBtip.png Tip: Text chat ranges exist for your convenience and sanity; just like in real life, you shouldn't shout unless it's necessary! Otherwise you may disrupt the conversations of other nearby Residents.

Voice chat

Your listening distance for voice chat is a little trickier to figure out than your text chat distance:

  • In your Sound & Media preferences (Me > Preferences > Sound & Media) you may choose either to Listen from: Camera position or to Listen from: Avatar position. Because this choice determines the location of your "ears" for listening to Voice Chat, it will affect the distance from which you can hear someone speaking.
  • You are able to hear voicev chat up to 60 meters from your listening position. If you have Listen from: Camera position selected, this means you can hear voice dhat from up to 110 meters away (50 meters camera tether + 60 meters from your camera). Under special circumstances, Linden Lab may choose to alter these distance settings on a region-by-region basis.
  • In all cases, if you are able to hear another Resident, his name will appear in the Active Speakers window, which you can view by pressing the button to the left of Speak on the toolbar at the bottom of your screen. This holds true even if the other Resident is hiding or otherwise invisible.
  • Group voice chat and direct peer-to-peer calls have no distance limitations.

See Voice chat for more detailed information.

KBnote.png Note: Voice chat distance limits are enforced by our system in such a way that they cannot be overridden by changes to an open source Viewer. In other words, it's impossible to use a modified Second Life Viewer to remove the hearing range limits described in this article.

Send an instant message

Instant messaging (IM) is a private way to communicate with individuals or groups. IM is different from chat in that you can IM any Resident, no matter where they are, inworld or offline, at any time.

The most common ways to start an IM session require that you either have the calling card of the Resident you wish to contact or that you pull up the Resident's profile by using the People tab of the Search window.

Ways to start an IM conversation

  • Right-click the person's avatar and select Send IM. This method only works if the person is near you.
  • Click the People button at the bottom of the Viewer window, then double-click a person's name in the NEARBY or MY FRIENDS section. The MY FRIENDS section lists every person you have a calling card for, while the MY GROUPS section lists all of your groups.
  • Double-click on someone's calling card to bring up the IM window. You can also click select Actions > IM from an opened profile or right-click the card itself and choose IM.
  • If you don't know or don't see the person, use the Search field at the top of the Second Life window. Navigate to the People tab of the Search results to see all Residents who match your search terms. Click on the person's name to see your communication options, then click on IM.
  • If you are using Second Life Viewer 1.20 or later, you may click someone's name in chat history to open their profile.

To put more than one person in the same IM conversation, see Instant messages.

Logging chat and instant messages

Have you ever wanted to go back and re-read an old conversation, or post a meeting transcript to a wiki or web page? By default, the Second Life Viewer keeps all text chat in a file called the chat log file. You can change how and where the Viewer saves chat logs in the Privacy tab of the PREFERENCES window: choose Me > Preferences or press Ctrl-P. Click the window's help button for more details.

Chat and IM logs

If you have chat or IM logging enabled, Second Life will automatically save your conversations to your hard drive. By default, the Viewer saves chat logs to a standard location on your hard drive that depends on your operating system. For example, where Username is your system user name and Avatarname is your Second Life account or display name:

  • 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
KBcaution.png Important: You may need to enable your file browser's ability to view hidden files in order to access your chat logs at their default location. Be very careful when accessing hidden system files; they are usually hidden so you can't change or delete them by accident! If you need to access your chat logs often, use the instructions below to relocate them to a more accessible folder.

To change or view the chat log file location:

  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. Click Browse to change the location. 
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