Technical issues with Mac OS X

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Using Second Life under Mac OS X

Keyboard

The Mac has two keys not found on a PC or (typical) UNIX/Linux machine:

  • command (CMD) key; this is sometimes called the Apple or propeller (⌘) key
  • option (OPT) key; this is equivalent to (but not 'the same' as) the PC's ALT key


WARNING! It is strongly suggested that you do not use the CMD key for keyboard shortcuts. Quite a few of the CMD shortcuts have meaning to Mac OS and will cause unexpected results. You should execute all keyboard shortcuts using the CTRL key. Reserve the use of the CMD key for right-clicking -- see below.

One-button Mouse

The standard Mac installation has a single-button mouse. For a typical Mac application - as well as when interacting with Mac OS X - a right-click is achieved in one of three ways:

  1. CTRL-click
  2. buy Apple's Mighty Mouse and configure it for two-button operation
  3. use any generic, USB 2-button mouse


WARNING! The Second Life client viewer handles mouse operations differently!

For the typical Mac app and in the OS, you use ...

  • SH-click to select a span of items
  • CMD-click to select/deselect items in a span/group
  • CTRL-click to right-click


In Second Life, you use ...

  • SH-click to select a span of items
  • CTRL-click to select/deselect items in a span/group
  • CMD-click to right-click


Optimizing the Second Life viewer for Mac

Based on Resident experience, it seems the lowest Mac configuration that is acceptable for Second Life is a PowerBook G4 or iBook G4 with a 1GHz processor, 768MB RAM and a 64MB Video card.

The only features listed here are the ones that will greatly impact your user experience.

Preferences ➙ Tab:Graphics

Feature/Setting Minimal Mac System
Mac OS X 10.4.x/Tiger, G4, 1 GHz
512-768 MB RAM, 64 MB shared video memory
Typical Mac System
Mac OS X 10.5.x/Leopard, Intel, 2 GHz
1 GB RAM, 128 MB video memory
Comment
Display Resolution➝
Run in window
checked checked Keep auto-detect Earlier releases of the client were more stable if run in a window. Instability claim requires verification in current release, 1.19.0 (5).
Display Resolution➝
Fullscreen Aspect Ratio
leave as set by the client leave as set by the client ---
Display Resolution➝
Auto detect
checked checked ---
Draw Distance 96 meters 128 meters Needless to say, a greater draw distance will affect client performance. You may want to alter this 'on the fly' depending on your in-world location and desires.

Preferences ➙ Tab:Graphics Detail

Feature/Setting Minimal Mac System
Mac OS X 10.4.x/Tiger, G4, 1 GHz
512-768 MB RAM, 64 MB shared video memory
Typical Mac System
Mac OS X 10.5.x/Leopard, Intel, 2 GHz
1 GB RAM, 128 MB video memory
Comment
Shaders➝
Enable Vertex Shaders
unchecked checked Performance impact is negligible.
Shaders➝
Enable Bumpmapping and Shiny
checked checked Performance impact is negligible.
Shaders➝
Enable Ripple Water
unchecked unchecked This can have a severe impact on viewer performance. Save this for a high-end Macintosh machine.
Lighting Detail Nearby local lights Nearby local lights Performance impact is negligible; make sure you're using the latest OpenGL drivers for your platform.
Terrain Detail checked checked Performance impact is negligible; make sure you're using the latest OpenGL drivers for your platform.
Object Mesh Detail middle middle-high Make sure you're using the latest OpenGL drivers for maximum performance.
Fexible Mesh Detail middle middle-high Make sure you're using the latest OpenGL drivers for maximum performance.
Tree Mesh Detail middle middle-high This only affects Linden trees. If you're in an area which makes use of a lot of trees, a higher setting for this feature can have a significant impact on performance. Make sure you're using the latest OpenGL drivers for maximum performance.
Avatar Mesh Detail middle middle-high Make sure you're using the latest OpenGL drivers for maximum performance.

Preferences ➙ Tab:Advanced Graphics

Feature/Setting Minimal Mac System
Mac OS X 10.4.x/Tiger, G4, 1 GHz
512-768 MB RAM, 64 MB shared video memory
Typical Mac System
Mac OS X 10.5.x/Leopard, Intel, 2 GHz
1 GB RAM, 128 MB video memory
Comment
Filtering➝
Anisotropic Filtering
unchecked checked Performance impact is negligible. Textures viewed at a sharp angle may look blurry with this feature turned off.
Enable VBO unchecked unchecked Warning! Activating this feature will crash your Intel-based MacBook. In general, the OpenGL implementation for Mac OS X will make poor use of the VBO features.
Graphics Card Memory leave it at maximum possible leave it at maximum possible You can't choose more than you have - so choose it all.
Max. Particle Count 1024 2048 or higher For mid-level or higher Mac platforms, a particle count above 2048 shows little impact.
Outfit Composite Limit set to 3 or 4 set to 4 or 5 For lower-end Macs, the impact is felt most in busy (many avatar) areas. On high-end Macs, this setting's impact is negligible.


Note: It's always best to keep your system up-to-date; run Software Update... regularly.


Miscellaneous Mac issues in Second Life

Difficulty leaving 'mouselook'

There is a minor bug in the Mac user interface which causes difficulties leaving Mouselook. The Esc key is used on the Mac viewer to close the Chat type-in field, reducing the UI stripe at the bottom to a single row of buttons. This happens even if you are in Mouselook. The solution is simply to press Esc twice, the second time exits Mouselook. (By the way: Esc also returns your camera viewpoint to its default position behind your avatar, if you have been camming around.)

If you find that your Esc key does not function at all, leaving you with no way to get out of Mouselook, pressing the key combination Command-Q (for Quit) helps : it brings up the small window asking if you want to Continue or Quit. Pressing Continue brings you out of Mouselook 9 times out of 10.

Cache size is inoperative

Setting the cache size to the maximum (1 GB) has no effect; OS X overrides it and continues to 'grow' the cache irrespective. I got mine up to well over 4 GB once which had a disastrous effect on performance. It may also contribute to the next effect...

Note: As of SLR 1.19.0 (5), this cannot be reproduced.

Logging In and Landing Underwater at (10,10,10)

This is usually due to an incomplete transfer to the simulator server due to low bandwidth and a large cache. Usually other people can see you normally but all you can see is an underwater view; you can't move, you can't see yourself, and you can't TP or Search. IM's may be unaffected. If this happens, 'clearing cache' from the client may be insufficient; try the following:

  • logout of the SL viewer
  • locate the folder ~/Library/Application Support/Second Life/cache
    (Hint: hitting SH-⌘-G in the Finder and entering the given path will take you to the right location.)
  • select everything in this folder and delete it
  • empty the trash
  • reboot your computer
  • log back into Second Life
    Note: As your cache is rebuilt, textures may initially be slow to rez.

Taking movies using File menu inoperative

At this time, File➝Start/Stop Movie to Disk does not work on a Mac.
The Second Life viewer no longer directly provides the ability to capture to a movie.
The solution is to use third-party software ...

Getting more information about Second Life for Mac users

Macintosh user groups in-world

To find a Mac user group, click the Find button then the Groups tab. Type in Mac and hit Search. You can join the group from that window. Other Mac users will be happy to help you out, and group IM is a good way to keep abreast of changes to the Mac viewer. As of May 2007, the "Macintosh Users" group has over 1,600 members and active group discussions. Other groups exist for non-English speakers, and for Mac-centric locations in-world.

Macintosh technical support on the SL Forums

The Mac Discussion forum in the Technical Talk section of the SL Forums provides Mac users with an avenue for finding more help and discussing issues and questions about Second Life on the Mac.