The Second Life interface has a top bar and a bottom bar. Additionally, right-clicking on any object will open a contextual pie menu. I’ll run through each in turn.
The top bar
The top menu bar will look something like the image below:
The first six items are pull-down menus. I’ll take you through each in turn in a little while. To the right of the pull-down menus you may see further icons indicating whether any activities are disallowed in your current location. In the image above the icons indicate “no building allowed here” and “no scripting here”. If there are no restrictions, no icons will be shown.
Next right, you’ll see the name of your current location. Clicking it will display a tabbed panel (see below) showing information about this parcel of land: its owner, any ‘prims’ (primitive building blocks), who’s allowed access, and such like. Go to a location and try it yourself … browse through the tabs.
Right of the location, you’ll see a clock displaying Pacific Standard Time (also known as “SL Time”). Next right is the small Linden-dollar (L$) icon–clicking it will allow you to buy SL in-world currency–and, beside it, your current balance in L$.
Finally, extreme right, you’ll see packet-loss and bandwidth indicators. You’ll probably not need to pay too much attention to these if connecting through the university network; but be aware that, if the former is high and the latter is low, it may be time to take a break.
[There are actually a couple of more (hidden) menus–Client and Server–displayed with CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+D. Use with care.]
The bottom bar
In the bottom bar you have, left to right, the following bank of toggling buttons:
- IM: opens the instant message panel
- Chat: opens the chat box for typing text (the keyboard shortcut is the Enter key). Allows you to chat in real time with people in your immediate vicinity.
- Friends: opens a panel listing all residents who’ve agreed to be your friend; indicates which of them are currently online. Also useful as a mini address book
- Fly: as the name suggests, allows your avatar to fly. Alternatively, use ‘Home’ (toggles flying on/off), ‘Page up’ (PgUp), and ‘Page down’ (PgDn), as keyboard shortcuts. Useful if you want to get a bird’s eye view of the terrain … and in any case it’s always faster than walking 🙂
- Snapshot: takes screenshots of the virtual world; many options in the panel
- Search: a tabbed search panel allowing filtered search of events, classifieds, places, people, groups.
- Build: opens the Build panel (See more on building in the Help section of this site)
- Mini-map: small local map, showing cardinal points. Double-clicking the mini-map opens the main map.
- Map: navigable map with teleport and search functions. Shortcut is CTRL+M.
- Inventory: opens the Inventory panel (explained in more detail elsewhere). Alternatively, use CTRL+I.
The pie menus
Right-clicking on SL objects (including landscapes and other avatars) will open a contextual ‘pie menu’.
The menu in the image on the right, for example, will appear on clicking an avatar, allowing you to go up to the person, add the person as a friend, view his/her profile, send an instant message, pay him/her L$ (Second Life has a very thriving economy! see: http://secondlife.com/whatis/economy.php)
Advanced: the Client and Server menus
By default toggled off in the top menu bar, there are two further menus: Client (formerly known as Debug) and Server. There’s no point in me repeating here what is well documented elsewhere, so go to 10 debug options you should know about and read through it for yourself.