Getting started in Second Life

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Lost? Confused? Both?! This article will help you get started in Second Life. See Where to get more help for more helpful resources.

The first things you should learn

There is a lot to learn about Second Life, but here is the minimum you need to get started.

Movement includes walking, running, and flying. To walk forward, backwards and turn left and right you can use the arrow keys. You can also do the same with the letters WASD on your keyboard. Pressing Control+R will toggle if you are running or not. Hold shift to strafe sideways.
To fly, you can hit the blue fly button at the bottom of your screen, or hit F, or press and hold the Page Up key. Once airborne, you can use either Page Up and Page Down to rise and fall, or E and C on your keyboard. Tapping those will make you jump. Hit the Home key or F again or "stop flying" to do just that.
If you notice that some keys work differently when you are chatting, it's due to focus. Where you last click can change the WASD keys to only let you type. To restore focus to movement, hit Esc up to 3 times or click once on the ground in front of you.
Camera Control
Click and drag on your back to take a look around. Alternate+click and drag on an object to zoom in and out and pan around it. Control+Alternate+click and drag to "orbit". Control+Alternate+⇧ Shift+click and drag to pan left right up and down. Hitting the Esc key twice will reset your view.
Mouse Look
Mouse look will have you see from your avatar's point of view and change your controls a little. You will now strafe left and right and steer with the mouse. Hit M to toggle mouse look. Esc will also get out of it.
Make sure you know how to Instant Message people you can see, and people you can't see via your Search and Friends buttons. Also make sure you get an idea of how far you can be "heard" when you chat or shout. As you join groups, you will see that you can start chats with entire groups. Gestures in your inventory are another way to communicate or add to what you say.
Interacting with objects is a big part of Second Life. Have you tried sitting on poseballs? Playing a game? Buying and object? Make sure you know about the pie menu as well as when to right click or left click. If you are on a Mac, use ⌘ Cmd+click for right click.
New Interactions
While most actions still are accessable via right click. Many can now happen with a left click. For example, if you see a chair icon when you hover over an object, touching (left-clicking) it will automatically seat you. Similar icons exist for buying, paying money to, and opening objects.
Objects and Inventory
While not everyone builds in Second Life, it's a good idea to learn the basics of moving things in edit, attaching and detaching objects from your avatar, how to find things in your inventory, and how to "unpack" a box you may receive.
There is no set of rules to define respect, except to treat others as you would like to be treated. The ability to do something does not imply permission.

Other important concepts

Map and Teleporting
The map lets you see nearly the whole world at once if you zoom out. Each tiny square represents an area as big as help island. Each one is a "simulator" (sim). Second Life is at about 1600 sims as of January 2006. Some are connected so that you can walk and fly between them. Others are individual islands that can be reached only via teleport. Walking or even flying everywhere would take hours.
Double-click on an area to be transported there, you will either arrive there directly, or as close as possible and be given a red beacon to follow. When you want to bring someone to a location, you can offer them a teleport via their profile.
Landmarks are the Second Life equivalent of a bookmark. They save a place that you or someone else has been. You can find them in your inventory. Double click them and you will get a teleport option as a pop up. Create your own by pulling down the WORLD menu and choosing "Create Landmark Here"
Find will let you look up events, people, products, and also let you teleport to the various areas you find.
As you explore you may make many friends. When you offer friendship it is reciprocal and gives the ability to see each other on the map. You can also offer a calling card instead.
Damage Enabled Areas
In certain areas you will see a heart and "100%" at the top of your screen. This means you can take damage. If your health reaches zero you get sent back to where you have set as your "home".

Where to get more help

It's best to get help where it's already offered. Not everyone you meet in Second Life is experienced and knowledgeable in every area. Some people specialize. Others may be brand new, like yourself. If you missed Help Island or left too soon, a public version of Help Island exists: Help_Island Public. Also listed are some other locations where people are happy to help you out.