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What are gestures?

Gestures are an inventory item type (shown as Inv item gesture.png) that allow you to create a series of steps which trigger your avatar to animate, play sounds, and emit text chat. These can be used for practical purposes or to amuse friends. For example, a cartoon "Squish!" noise accompanied by your avatar falling down.

Gestures can be triggered with:

  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Text chat words/phrases
  • Voice volume.

Where do I get gestures?

There are a variety of sample gestures in your inventory's Library folder. Search your inventory for "gesture" and scroll down.

You can also purchase many readymade gestures at Xstreet. Learn more about Xstreet.

How do I make a gesture?

Many variations exist, but here's a simple exercise to get you started.

  1. Click the Inventory button in the bottom right of the Viewer window to open the Inventory window.
  2. Right-click the Gestures folder (if you don't see it, open the My Inventory folder) and select New Gesture from the context menu.
  3. Type in a unique name for the gesture. You can always change this later. A Gesture window also appears.
  4. In the Gesture window, under Steps, there are example steps. Click Preview button to see and hear what the gesture does as a whole. For example:
    1. Click the first step, Start Animation: Wave.
    2. Click the dropdown below and select a different animation, like Afraid. The steps update to show this.
    3. Click Preview again.
  5. Add and remove steps using the Add >> and Remove buttons.
  6. Change the order of the steps by selecting a step, then clicking Move Up and Move Down.
  7. As-desired, enter a Trigger and/or Shortcut Key. Changing the Description is optional, but you should at least have one way to easily trigger the gesture.
  8. Make sure Active is checked. Gestures must be active to be triggered.
  9. When you're done, click Save button and close the gesture window. Test the trigger or shortcut key.

You should also look at existing gestures to see how they're made.

Since gestures are best shown in action, watch this video tutorial to learn more:

Also, did you know gestures can be used as a productivity tool? With text chat macros, you can type in abbreviations which expand into phrases, or even paragraphs.

How do I see all my active gestures?

There are several ways:

  • Search your inventory for "(active)".
  • There's a dropdown called Gestures to the right of your chat bar. Click it to see gestures sorted by text trigger.
  • Go to View > Active Gestures. A special window opens that shows you the trigger, key, and name for all your activated gestures.

Why don't my gestures work?

You're either not using the correct trigger or they're deactivated. Gestures must be activated to be triggered. Activated gestures appear in bold in your inventory and have "(active)" next to their names.

There are a few ways to activate gestures:

  • Right-click a gesture and choose Activate.
    • You can also Shift-click a range of gestures, then choose Activate to activate multiple gestures at once.
  • Drag a gesture from your inventory onto your avatar to activate it.
    • This also works with folders containing gestures. It works similar to wearing clothes or attaching objects — active gestures are effectively "worn".

Conversely, you can follow the same steps, then choose Deactivate to turn off gestures.

Why do I sound like a woman if I have a male avatar (and vice-versa)?

The default gestures come in two folders, one for Male Gestures and another for Female Gestures depending on which gender you picked when you first logged into Second Life. Their steps are the same except for the sound files they reference. You can always switch to the other by as described above.

If you have a microphone, you can record your own voice, upload sound clips, then use them in gestures for an extra-personal touch.

Why can't I use an animation or sound in a gesture?

In other words, why doesn't an animation or sound doesn't appear in the dropdown when you're editing a gesture?

Check if it has full permissions. Animations and sounds must have full permissions to be included in a gesture. This is because a gesture functions like a "wrapper" that references individual animations and sounds. If an animation was no-transfer but the gesture could include it, that'd be an unfair way to work around the creator's permissions. A similar case applies for non-copiable animations and sounds.

It's true you can't do much to modify animations and sounds after uploading them aside from renaming and changing their description, but the rule still holds true.

Can I trigger multiple gestures in a single line of chat?

No. The Viewer only reads the first trigger. If you have many actions you want to do, you can include them with multiple actions in a single gesture.

If you want to show someone a gesture trigger, type it twice in text chat. For example, with the default "/bow" gesture activated, type: "/bow /bow". It appears as a single "/bow" — other avatars see you bowing but also see the trigger.

How come my text trigger disappears?

In the Gesture editor window, the Trigger is what's used to start the gesture, but is independent from what shows up. For example, if you have "/wave" used to do a wave animation, you might want the text chat that appears to everyone else to be "Friendly greetings!.

If you want your trigger and the emitted text output (independent of further Steps) to be the same, simply enter the same text next to Trigger and Replace with.

How do I use voice levels to trigger gestures?

There exist special triggers to do this. They are:


Each basically correlates to the loudness (amplitude) of your incoming voice chat, from 1 being softest to 3 being loudest. When there are several speech gestures which share the same trigger, they're cycled between to add variety.

To get started, search your inventory for the Speech Gestures folder (which is included in the Library > Gestures folder), then drag that folder onto your avatar. Then, try talking on voice chat, from quiet to loud. Your avatar's arms should gesticulate more dramatically when speaking loudly, as shown here:

KBnote.png Note: The Speech Gestures folder may not appear copied into your own inventory until after relogging. This is a bug.

Like any other gesture, you can edit a speech gesture. Leave its trigger alone, but you can change its steps. For more info, see these videos:

See also

  • Link helpful pages here!