Tips and Tricks to Enhance Your Second Life

Benny and Wrenaria having a picnic on virtual Beaver Island

Keep in mind that the official Second Life Quick Start Guide is also an excellent place to start when needing to learn the basics. It is thorough and is easy to follow.

Camera Control

You can change the angle and distance of your camera view in Second Life in several ways.

SL keyboard shortcuts

Click and drag your mouse using the key combos shown above to change views. Where you click with your mouse will be the focal point of the camera as it moves. If you completely mess up your camera view, don't panic. Simply make your avatar walk forward a few steps and the camera will return to its default view directly behind your avatar.

For a first person view, make sure the chat bar is closed and press "M"on your keyboard. Move your mouse around to change viewing angle. The "Esc" key will return you to a normal view.

Feel free to download and print this Second Life Keyboard Shortcuts PDF for easy reference.

If you are uncomfortable with keyboard shortcuts, you can also activate the client interface controls for the camera by going to "View" in the Menu and selecting "Camera Controls."


Everything that you aquire or create in Second Life - including objects, clothing items, body shapes, textures, notecards, and landmarks - can be found in your Second Life inventory.

To access this inventory, click on the Suitcase shaped tab on your Second Life sidebar, or press Ctrl + I on your keyboard. All default items given to you at account creation can be found in the "Library" section of your inventory. All items you create or aquire henceforth will appear in the "My Inventory" folder. All items can be reorganized into subfolders at your choosing. New items will automatically be placed either at the bottom of your "My Inventory" list in its own folder, or in the "Objects" folder within it.

If you click on the "Create" menu at the top of your Inventory window, you will see options to create scripts, notes, gestures, clothing and body parts (which can be edited in the Appearance Editor), and folders (to organize your inventory items with).

 Editing AppearanceAppearance

In Second Life, you can customize your appearance to to look however you like, or even buy premade avatars and outfits designed by other residents. There are multitudes of stores and freebie areas on Second Life to explore and buy from.

Shape EditorBody Parts

Right-clicking on your avatar and selecting "Edit Shape" will bring up the appearance editor. Within the editor is a vast range of body parts to edit - everything from the shape of your nose to the size of your feet and everything in between. Drag the sliders back and forth in each section until you find a look that pleases you. It may take a few occasions of fiddling with details before you get your avatar's shape perfectly to your liking.

Don't forget to save your work! Saving will place your body customizations in the "Body Parts" section of your inventory, so use a save name that you'll remember.


Clothing can be edited in a similar manner as body parts. Moving the sliders in the clothing sections will change the length, cut, and looseness of the certain articles of clothing. There are also options to add color or texture to your clothing creations. Some textures are provided by Linden Labs upon joining and can be found in the Library > Textures folder in your inventory. You can also upload textures for the cost of L$10 (Linden dollars are the in-world currency), which translates to about US$0.04.

Linden Labs also provides you with a selection of basic clothing that you can mix and match from. These outfits can be found in the Library > Clothing folder of your inventory. To put on a preexisting clothing item, right-click on the article of clothing in your inventory and select "wear." Different types of clothing layer in different ways, so experiment until you get it right.

Another option for customizing your avatar is to buy clothing created by other residents in one of the many stores located within Second Life. You can also shop via your internet browser at https://marketplace.secondlife.com/.

The best in-world freebie store can be found at the Ohio Learning Network Resource Center.

Fabulously Free and the Freebie Telegraph are both useful blogs that post images and locations of freebies and dollarbies around Second Life and includes both clothing and objects alike. Some stores have freebie items for their group members and/or lucky chairs where you can win items or $L.


In Second Life 2.0, outfits have their very own dedicated tab in your sidebar called "My Appearance." Once you create a look that you love, you can go to the Outfit tab and select "Save Outfit." A box will appear prompting you to choose a name to save your outfit under. Consider using a unique name that will directly relate to what you were wearing so that you do not forget what each outfit is like. For example, instead of "Outfit 1" try "Beaver Jersey and Jeans" or "Beaver Pride Outfit" and so on. You may save as many different outfits as you wish. When you want to wear one of your saved outfits, go to the "My Appearance" tab, click on the outfit you desire, then click on the "Wear" button at the bottom right of your client window.

You can also see what your avatar is already wearing by selecting the "WEAR" tab in the same sidebar section. To take off a particular item, right-click the item in the list and select "Take Off."


Your Second Life Avatar comes equipped with basic animations and gestures. These, just like your clothing and body shape, can be edited and exchanged for new ones. There are many shops dedicated to creating stand alone poses/gestures as well as Animation Overrides (AO), which are scripted attachments that contain collections of animations intended to override the default movement and poses of your avatar. An AO can override the way your avatar stands, sits, walks, swims, and flies. Basic freebie AOs can be found in various locations throughout Second Life, but most of the the more complex AO's will cost you some Linden dollars.

You can create your own AO by making animations with a program suchas Poser, Blender, and others. A great, simple-to-use freebie program for creating animations/poses is Qavimator. The animations/poses that you upload can then be combined into an AO using something like Ziggy's HUD Animation Overrider (ZHAO), which is free and comes with instructions. Keep in mind that each animation you upload will cost L$10.

 Interacting with Other Avatars and ObjectsPeople Icon

You can interact directly with most objects by right-clicking on them (shown to the left in the image below) or hovering over them with your mouse until the name and a clickable info symbol (the letter "i" in a circle) appears.

Right-Click Menu vs. Hover and Click Menu

Adding Friends to Your Contact List

Adding people to your contact list is the easiest way to keep track of your friends on Second Life.

There are three ways to add nearby online avatars to your Contact list:

Method 1: Right-click on the avatar to select "Add Friend" from the menu.

Method 2: Hover your mouse pointer over an avatar, click the info button when it appears, and then select "Add Friend."

Method 3: Open your sidebar and go to the "People" tab. Select a name in the "NEARBY" section and then click the "+" button located at the bottom of the sidebar.

With any of these methods, a friend request (that you have the option to modify) will then be sent to the avatar you selected. If they accept the friend request, their name will appear in your contact list and vice versa. If declined, the name will not appear.

You can also add people who are not online or nearby to your Contacts. To add an offline friend...

  1. Open your sidebar and go to the "People" tab.
  2. Go to the "My Friend" section of the People tab and click on the "+" button to bring up a search window.
  3. Type part or all of a resident's name and when it appears, click on it so that it is highlighted.
  4. A confirmation window will pop up with the option to customize your request message. Select "OK" when satisfied.

The next time these avatars log in to Second Life, they can accept or decline your friendship offer.

You can teleport people from your contact list to your location within Second Life. In your Contact list, select the avatars you wish to teleport (hold the "Ctrl" button to select multiple names) and then click "Teleport." A teleport request will be sent to each name. Each avatar that accepts your request will appear next to you.

Joining Groups

No matter what your interests may be, there are probably groups related to it in Second Life. These groups can connect you with other residents who have similar interests, provide you access to certain regions, and/or provide you updates related to particular regions or events.

To find and join a group...

  1. Type in key words into the search box text field (upper right on screen) to target your area of interest and click the magnifying glass to search.
  2. Select the "Groups" tab to filter out extraneous results.
  3. Click on the group that interests you to read the description and access the group's "Profile" button. Open the profile for the group of your choice and click "JOIN NOW!" to join the group. Although many groups are free to join, some do have a membership fee.

Some locations have signs around that you can click on that will directly add you to a group, just like Oregon State University: Beaver Island has one on the main map where you enter the region.