Getting Started in Second Life

Benny and Wrenaria having a picnic on virtual Beaver Island

If at any point you feel confused or desire more assistance in avatar creation and/or navigation of Second Life, please feel free to contact us and someone will happily assist you in your virtual orientation and exploration.

Create an Avatar

  1. Go to https://join.secondlife.com/ and create an account. You may want to make note of your user name and password and keep it somewhere safe for future reference. Choose your username carefully - this will become your in-world avatar's identity.
  2. An activation email will be sent to the email address that you registered with. Follow the instructions in the email to activate your account.
  3. After activating your account, the Second Life website will give you the option to pick your starting location. You may choose between either Orientation Island, or from a list of Community Gateways (Orientation Island is highly recommended).
  4. The Second Life website will then direct you to a download page. Follow the instructions listed to download and install Second Life. The Second Life client can also be downloaded from Support: Downloads at any time.
  5. Open the Second Life client and log in using the avatar name and password you created when registering.


The first time you log in, you will start on Orientation Island by default, unless you picked an alternate location during registration. Second Life provides you with a tutorial to learn the basics of Second Life.

You can also view the offical Second Life 2.0 Quick Start Guide on the Second Life website.

To gain access to the rest of the Second Life world, you must leave Orientation Island. To do this, find and touch one of the "Enter Second Life" signs on the island. Once you leave Orientation Island, you cannot return to it.

Navigation (Viewer 2.0)

Interface Controls vs. Keyboard

You can navigate using either keyboard shortcuts or interface controls. To access the interface controls, click on the "Move" or "View" button located on the bottom bar of your screen. These pop-up menus are docked by default but can be dragged and placed wherever you desire on your Second Life client screen.


SL Movement Interface


Try out the different buttons to see how they affect your movement and camera views.

If you prefer to use the keyboard to navigate, feel free to download and print this Second Life Keyboard Shortcuts PDF for easy reference.

There are also a few basic movement keys mapped out below to get you started.

SL keyboard shortcuts


Unlike in the physical world, you have the ability to fly in Second Life. Open the "Move" menu, and click on the image of a flying figure to begin flight. Click the "Stop Flying" button to land. Pushing the "Home" or "F" button on your keyboard will have the same effect as the fly/stop flying buttons. Use "Page Up" and "Page Down" (or Fn + Up/Down on a Mac) on your keyboard to control your elevation. All other movement controls remain the same.


Teleporting (TPing) is the quickest way to get to a new location. You can find the world map in the right-hand pop-out sidebar under the tab that has the Second Life icon on it (shaped like a hand).

For example,  to get to Beaver Island, open the world map and type "Oregon State University" in the "Find" bar. Click "Find," and then "Teleport."

You can also use the search box in the upper right-hand side of your Second Life client to find pleaces, people, or groups. The "Destination Guide" tab frequently has lots of interesting and beautiful builds to explore that are a mixture of educational and fun.

SL search box


Text Chat

  1. Locate the text field on the lower left of the program window (it will say "Click here to chat" on it in gray).
  2. Type your content and press Enter on your keyboard. Anyone within 20 in-world meters will be able to hear you.
  3. To stop chatting, press "Esc" on your keyboard, or click anywhere outside of the chat area on your screen.

Instant Messaging (IM)

You can send an IM in three different ways:

Local Avatars: Right-click on an avatar (or find their name in the "Nearby" list in your sidebar) and select "IM"

Contacts: Click on a name in your Contact list and select "IM"

Not Local or in Contacts: Do a profile search (Enter an avatar name in the search field in the upper right, designated by a magnifying glass) and click on "IM"

Instant messages do not have distance limits like the general local chat does.

Voice Chat

You will need a microphone and speakers to use voice chat.

  1. Choose "Me" from the menu bar and click "Preferences."
  2. Choose the "Sound & Media" tab and click "Input/Output devices" to set up your mic input and speaker output devices.

For general voice chat, you can toggle voice on and off using the "Speak" button located on the bottom bar of your Second Life client screen. The icon will turn green when voice is activated. You can also have private voice chats with other avatars by going to their profile and selecting "Call."

How to Get to Beaver Island

  1. Log in to Second Life (the Second Life client must be active to access Beaver Island).
  2. After entering the Second Life main grid, open this SLurl in your web browser: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Oregon%20State%20University/193/14...
  3. Click on the orange “Visit this location" button. A launch application pop-up may appear. Direct it to Second Life.
  4. A landmark for Beaver Island will appear on the right-hand side of your client screen in Second Life. Select teleport to go there.