Preferences FAQ

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NOTE: Page is being reworked from old preferences info, to be a FAQ page with extra details, in parallel with the main Guide Page

Please see the Preferences Window Guide for the main discussion of what the settings do. This page gives additional details and recommended settings.


Start Location

This will attempt to log you in to the specified location (home, last, or your input). If not available it will place you at an infohub somewhat at random. If you have never set a home location, it is by default the first infohub you landed at after orientation island.

If show start location is checked, you have the option of giving a named location, either a region name by itself, or a location in the form RegionName/X/Y/Z, where X,Y, and Z are coordinates within the region.

Away Timeout

The default for this is 5 minutes. If you wish to be away for extended time, but not shown as away or logged out after 30 minutes of inactivity, you can uncheck the Advanced Menu > Character > Character Tests > Go Away/AFK When Idle item. This turns off the timers.


Rotate Mini-Map

The little mini-map which can be brought up with Shift+Ctrl+M can be set to either rotate with the direction your avatar is facing, or it can be fixed to always point north to up. Checking this option will make it rotate with the direction you are facing. I keep this option checked.

Notify when money (L$) spent or received

This will create a pop-up window whenever you spend or receive money while you are online. I keep this enabled so I know when I recieve a sale, and to review how much I just spent to make sure I didn't mis-type the amount.

Automatically report crashes

Sometimes, when Second Life crashes, you will be asked if you want to report the crash, to help the developers debug errors in the system. Enabling this will automatically report crashes without asking you. I keep this enabled.

Auto-detect graphics hardware on next startup

Checks the capabilities of the graphics accelerator you're using to display Second Life. Adds a little extra time to startup, but it can't hurt to leave it on otherwise, especially if you're swapping out for a better graphics card soon.

Use default system color picker

Ditches the Second Life client's custom color picker in favor of the system color picker for the OS the client is running on. Leave off by default unless you hate the custom color picker, or have problems with it.

Crash Reports

A dropdown menu that lets you set how much control you want over the reports that are sent by the client on a crash or the next start up after a crash. If you're really helpful, keep this set to "Always Send"


Provides the option to produce main parts of the SL Client's UI in another language besides English. Note the following caveats:

  • A change to this option requires a restart of the client to enforce.
  • As of this writing (21/08/2008), most languages for the UI are in beta. Do not count on a perfect translation of everything.
  • This change of language is limited only to the standard UI. Switching the client to display, say, Korean on the UI does not automagically turn Second Life into a land where people type fluent Korean (unless you switch to a primarily Korean sim)
  • You require a Unicode font supported by Second Life in order to properly switch over. Office XP users have the advantage of having such a font - Arial MS Unicode - installed by default. While the original variant (Arial Unicode) may also work, this has not been tested.

Tab:Input & Camera

Mouse Sensitivity

This affects how quickly you rotate while in Mouselook (first person) view. I have mine set to about 15% from the left, which I think is the default.

Invert Mouse

Checking this will invert your up-down movements, so that if you move the mouse up, your camera tilts down. I have this turned off.

Auto Fly

There are two modes of movement in Second Life: standing and flying. You can toggle between these two modes by pressing the 'F' key.

While standing, the 'E' key is for jumping, and the 'C' key is for crouching down. While flying, the 'E' key moves you up, and the 'C' key moves you down.

Enabling this option will make it so that if you hold down the 'E' key while standing, you will enter fly mode and go up, and if you hold down the 'C' key while flying and touch the ground, you will go into standing mode. I have this option enabled.

Camera Options

This affects how closely the camera tracks you as you fly or walk around. Using a higher value means the camera will feel "looser" in tracking your position. I usually set this to 10.

Automatc Edit Camera Movement

Checking this will cause your camera to reorient and rotate when you enter Edit mode. I prefer to leave this checked off.

Automatic Appearance Camera Movement

Checking this will cause your camera to reorient and rotate when you enter Appearance mode. I prefer to leave this checked off.


Maximum Bandwidth

This slider lets you specify how fast the world should stream data to you. The number represents thousands of bits per second. I recommend 300 to start, go lower if you get packet loss, go higher if your system can handle it. I tend to stay around 500 -- i've tried going higher but even though my ISP lets me download other things clearly at 3000 kilobits per second, it seems the SL servers start to give me more trouble if I specify it much higher than 500.

Disk Cache Size

This specifies how much space will be used on your primary drive to store information that SL has downloaded, to help save having to download it again if you pass back through the same area again at a later time.

While usually larger is better, I've noticed a larger cache also degrades my CPU performance because it takes longer to look through a larger cache. I keep this set to 200MB as a compromise between lookup speed and download speed. If you have a slower connection or a faster computer, you may want to set this higher.

Note that every time you install an update to Second Life, your cache files are cleared out and reset.


Display Resolution

A dropdown menu with several common resolutions to choose from when rendering SL full-screen. This option comes with a 'Run In A Window' checkbox that disables the dropdown if checked and hands over control of the resolution SL runs at to the way the client window is manipulated.

Fullscreen Aspect Ratio (width/height)

A drop down menu containing several common aspect ratios for computer monitors. This works only if 'Run In A Window' in Display Resolutions is left unchecked. This option also comes with a 'Auto Detect' option that attempts to read the aspect ratio of the monitor on its own - leave this checked unless told otherwise to save on configuration hassles.

UI Size

A slider allowing the user to set how much larger or smaller than normal (normal being 1.0) the user wants the UI to be rendered. This is accompanied by a checkbox for 'Use resolution independent scale' which tells the client to take the resolution the client is being rendered at into account when determining the resizing of UI elements based on the slider.

Draw Distance

This setting determines the maximum distance at which an object can be from you and still be rendered by the client. Shorter distances equate to better performance in most cases.

Show Avatar In Mouselook

When checked, this option will result in you being able to look down and notice your own avatar body while in mouselook. Primarily a matter of realism in one's view, but can also be unchecked when a avatar has attachments that hinder one's view in mouselook.

Tab: Graphics Detail


This option has three independent checkboxes to allow toggling of certain visual features of SL that require hardware shaders to execute. If an option is grayed out, it denotes that your video card does not have the features necessary to enable a certain option.

  • Enable Bump-mapping and Shiny: This enables shinyness and bump mapping (Object Bump) on objects set up to use either of these options. Turning this on can have a minor impact on performance. I have this off.
  • Enable Ripple water: leaving this option checked causes SL to fake rolling water surfaces. Note that this excludes waves braking onto the shore; this requires custom scripting and texturing outside the scope of this article.
  • Avatar Vertex Program: leaving this option checked allows the client to run customised vertex shaders that can animate avatars faster. Leave turned on by default unless you see bizzare issues such as twitchy, odd avatar textures and animation/posing.

Avatar Rendering

Normal is a very basic view, and should be selected if you want a higher frame rate. I have this selected. Bump Mapped will introduce a small amount of additional detail by bumpmapping the textures used for the avatar's skin and clothing. Bump Mapped & Cloth will cause loose clothing and long hair to slightly wave, as if blown by a small breeze. (Do not attempt to consider enabling BM&C together with high avatar detail - this combination has been known to crash clients due to too much extra workload.

Lighting Detail

Determines whether only the distant light of the sun and moon will be rendered. If set to 'Nearby Local Lights', the active light thrown out by nearby local lights will be rendered as well at the expense of some speed too...

Terrain Detail

Low is a tradeoff of texture quality on the land for added speed.. High will show high resolution land textures, but can slow down your frame rate slightly. I have this selected.

Mesh Sliders

The meshes for all objects and avatars are generated client side from scratch. These options specify how much detail and geometry to generate. For added graphics performance, try to nudge these sliders to the left as much as possible till your eyes start crying about too much polygonal jaggedness

  • Object mesh shader - for determining how many polygons are used to display prims, trade off between performance and smoothness of prims with curved surfaces.
  • Flexible mesh shader - same as above, but for flexible prims (tradeoff between performance and smoothness of flexing)
  • Tree mesh shader - tradeoff between performance and realism when rendering 1-prim "Linden" trees.
  • Avatar mesh shader - tradeoff between performance and smoothness, evenness of avatar meshes.

Tab:Adv. Graphics


Anisotropic Filtering : trades off performance for smoother antialiased edges when checked on graphics cards that support antialiasing.


A non-zero adjustment of gamma will override the system defaults. Lower gammas make everything darker, while brighter gammas cause things to be rendered more brightly.

Nighttime Brightness

Similar to Gamma, but determines the darkness of less well-lit areas during SL nighttimes. If you disable local lighting in Lighting Details, consider increasing this value slightly to compensate for the lack of lighting.

AGP Graphics Acceleration

This gives me about a 25% boost in speed to enable, but not everyone can enable it due to driver or hardware incompatabilities. I've also heard some people say that turning this on can slow down their performance. I'd say go to a quiet area, relog, and try it both ways to see if it helps or hurts your frame rate.

Video Card Memory

More than anything, this setting lets you specify how much texture data should be downloaded and displayed. Setting this lower will cause smaller textures to download, but they will probably appear more blurry. Setting this lower will help make textures load faster, but will compromise appearance quality. Most of the time, I keep this set to the size of my video card's memory for maximum quality.

Fog Distance Ratio

If you prefer your view to fade off into fog, set this number lower. If you prefer there to be less or no fog (which means you may see the edge of your draw distance clearly), set it higher. I have it set to the maximum at 4.0.

Max Particle Count

This specifies the maximum number of particles the client will display at once. I usually recommend keeping this at 4096, since using any other value will mean you probably won't see the same effect as the person who created the effect intended. Setting this lower can help with performance, however. Setting this higher has no effect - the client is currently set not to render more than 4096 particles at all times.

If you want to disable particles altogether, you can press the Alt+Shift+Equals key combination to toggle them off/on. This resets every time you log in.

Outfit Composite Limit

The usual way that avatars are skinned and clothed in SL is, the client is made to do the grunt work of baking the relevant skin and clothing textures together, then uploading the final result to the SL servers for download by other people. Lowering this value may speed up the process by reducing the number of layers considered, but may cause odd effects for certain outfits. If somoene starts laughing or blushing at the fact that you're apparently not wearing something you KNOW you're wearing, consider that you may have pushed this down too much and start bringing it back up until your outfit renders properly.


Mute Audio

Turns off all in-world sound effects. Not recommended unless you are easily annoyed by them =)

Mute Audio When Window Minimized/Hidden

Turns off in-world sound effects when SL is minimized or hidden.

Play Streaming Music When Available

Land owners have the ability to specify a shoutcast/icecast type of stream on their parcels, which will play automatically when you enter their land if you have this enabled. This stream is sent directly to you from the shoutcast server and does not pass through Second Life's system.

Play Streaming Video When Available

Checking this allows you play streaming video when it's available on a parcel. The stream bypasses the Second Life grid and goes directly from the streaming server to the client. This assumes that the video stream is available and that the client has Quicktime installed (as of this writing, there is no support for Quicktime for Linux-using SL Residents)

System, Wind, Footsteps, UI Volume

These are regular volume sliders that adjust the volume of their respective sound sources. I have mine set to roughly 100%, 50%, 10%, and 50%.

$ Change Threshold

This will play a sound if you spend or recieve money, if it is greater or equal to the amount you specify here. I have mine set to 50, which I think might be the default.

Health Change Threshold

Like the $ Change Threshold, this will play a sound if you take more than 10 points of damage in a damage-enabled area.

Doppler Effect

The higher you set this, the more doppler effect will be applied to objects that are emitting sounds.

Distance Factor

I think this affects how far sounds propogate, but I'm not entirely sure.

Rolloff Factor

I think this affects how quickly the sounds fade in volme as a function of distance, but I'm not entirely sure.

Default Upload Bitrate

When you upload a sound file, this will be the default quality setting (sort of like the quality setting on an MP3). A bigger number means higher quality sound, but also it will mean a longer delay when you first play the sound to people who don't have it cached.


Chat Font Size

This lets you specify the size of the font that appears in the chat overlay area in the bottom left corner of your screen, but does not affect the size of the text in the windows (such as IM and Chat History).

Chat Color

This lets you specify the colors for the different types of chat text. 'System' is system messages such as errors or special announcements. 'Users' is the regular chat text you see other people typing. 'Objects' is chat text which comes from scripted objects. By default, these are a very light blue, white, and green, respectively.

The color corresponding to the "Owner" label is only used with llOwnerSay() -- and that's only visible to the scripted object's owner.

The "Object" label is for when the script uses any of the common chat forms that are visible to all: llSay(), llShout(), and llWhisper().

The "Object IMs" label is for scripted llInstantMessage() text which is visible only to the targeted recipient. (The Linden viewer seems to use the same color for this as for regular "Object" chat, above.)

The "Direct" label is for llRegionSayTo() text, again visible only to the targeted recipient who much also be present in the same region as the scripted object at the time the function is called.

Thanks to Qie Niangao for the detailed information from

The UI does allow you to customize the colors in Preferences. Clicking on a color in preferences will bring up the color picker.

Chat Console: Fade Chat After

This applies to the chat overlay text which appears in the bottom left corner of your screen. The higher you set this, the longer the chat text will stay on the screen before fading out. If you set this too high in a very chatty area, the chat text may begin to fill the whole screen. Setting this lower will keep this from happening, but gives you less time to read it before it fades out. I've used a setting of 60 seconds for a long time now without ever having to adjust it. Set the opacity slider to determine how dark the chat console is.

Note: You can always open your chat history window with Ctrl+H which shows the text in a scrollable window without fading.

Chat uses full screen width

Checking this will cause the chat overlay text to wrap at the right screen edge, instead of partway across the screen. I prefer this option turned off.

Close chat after hitting return

Turning this on will let you use the Enter key to open the chat text entry box and start chatting, and then it will close the chat text entry box after you press Enter again to say your line of text. I definitely prefer this to be checked, as this is the way that most game chats work.

If this is left unchecked, the chat bar will stay open all the time, and you will have to use your mouse to click outside of it in order to to press shortcut keys.

Arrow keys move avatar when chatting

If this is enabled, then you will not be able to use your arrow keys to move your cursor around and edit the text in your chat text entry box, instead it will cause your avatar to move. This may be preferable if you have "Close chat after hitting return" unchecked, but you will probably want it turned off if you have "Close chat after hitting return" enabled so that you can easily move your cursor to edit your text. I have this off.

Show chat bubbles

Click this to see avatar's chat in bubbles over their heads. Set the opacity slider to determine how dark the background behind the chat is.

Script Errors

'Show script Errors and Warnings as regular Chat' and the accompanying color box will cause the client to display script warnings and errors in the chat console in the specified color when this is enabled instead of only popping up a script error icon and dialogs.

Tab: Communications

Make my online status visible in Search

when checked, allows anyone in the world to see whether you're online or not in Search and Profiles windows. Unchecked, this restricts knowledge of your online status to Lindens and anyone on your friends list.

Send IM to E-mail

If you enable this, then any Instant Messages that you recieve from people while you are offline will be forwarded to your email address. This can come in handy to keep in contact while offline. As of version 1.4, you can now reply to emails you recieve from this to send an Instant Message back to the person who sent it to you. I have this enabled. You can change your email address in your Account Settings on the Second Life website, and this option will quote what email address your IMs will be forwarded to as well. If your account has a nasty habit of overflowing with IMs and losing IMs in the process, keeping this option may help them get through (though they will be lost on the grid - and any inventory dropping is not covered by this option)

Include IM in Chat History

If you want the Chat History window (Ctrl+H) to include Instant Messages (like the chat overlay does), then enable this feature. I have this feature off.

Show Timestamps in IM

When checked, this prepends SLT times to each line of text typed in chat and or IM by you and other people. Useful for showing in logs just how a conversation was paced on a per-minute basis.

Log Instant Messages / Log Chat

These options log all chat done in a session in normal chat and Group IMs to a specified path.

Show end of last IM conversation

Only available if either chatlogging option or both are enabled, this appends a "End of Conversation" note to each IM and chat log on normal logout.

Busy Mode Response

Provides space for a custom automated reply to be sent when a Resident is in Busy Mode. This is sent every time someone attempts to send an IM.

Show Online Friend Notifications Many people turn this off since they have so many friends, or if they leave it on, they keep their friends list small. Otherwise you will get constant messages as people log on, off, or crash.


When a popup message box appears, you have the option to check a box to not see it again. This tab is where you manage those popup boxes.

Popups I have disabled

This is a list of the popup message boxes you have chosen not to see again. You can turn the message back on by highlighting the question and clicking the Enable this popup button.

Popups I want to see

A list of the popup messages currently appearing.