What is chat? Chat is essentially how we communicate with other residents in Second Life. There are two major categories of chat: text chat and voice chat. This page will focus on text chat. For info about voice chat, go here: Using Voice.
There is a nicely detailed write-up of chat and IM windows, and associated Firestorm settings, here.
There are 4 types of chat:
Alternatively, you can choose to show the “send” button at the end of the nearby chat bar, with which you can select the chat type (whisper, say, or shout). It will remain in whatever chat type until you change it. To enabled this “send” button, go to Preferences → Chat -> Typing → Show chat type / send chat button in chat bar.
These are grid-wide, meaning anyone anywhere on the grid can participate, without being in the same location.
The viewer has the ability to translate text into a language that you choose but you need to set up an account with Bing or Google to do so. See here for more information. Previously, Google provided free translation services, but this has now ended, and you must establish your own account with Bing or Google, which may incur a cost. Please be aware that chat translation only works in nearby chat and not in IMs or group chat.
There are several ways to start an instant message:
Provided you are allowed to join a group chat, go to Group tab in the Contacts window and either double click on the group or select the group and press the IM/call button.
If you are in the group tab in the People panel, double clicking on the group will start chat; or you can right-click on the selected group and select chat.
To close the group chat window for the duration of the login session, press the X button at top right of that group window. If you want to close it temporarily, press the Zz button at top right to put the group in “snooze” mode. Snooze mode will close the chat for a set duration; and after that duration is up, any new chat in that group will make that group's chat window open again. Chat group duration default time is set to 900s but can be changed in Preferences > Chat > Chat tab.
A conference is a private conversation with two or more Residents. It is similar to group chat, but more dynamic, since everyone on your friends list can be invited, as well as everyone you have a calling card from.
To start a conference chat:
Note: Conferences are limited to twenty participants.
The terminology has changed so please read here.
The location for the saved chat logs and transcripts depends on your operating system but can be found and changed in Network & Files -> Directories → Conversation logs and transcripts location. Press the Set button to change it to a different folder.
If you are offline and an IM is sent to you, the IM is backlogged and will appear as a set of notification icons in the upper right or lower left of your viewer when you log in.
The backlog can contain up to 25 IMs (cap limit), including inventory transfers, group invitations, and group notifications. If someone gives you an inventory item (generating an IM message), the message is placed in your inventory's Trash folder, and you can retrieve it when you return. If a scripted object sends the inventory, it is deleted immediately.
Second Life will keep the IMs in the backlog for 31 days. If you do not log in within the 31 days to view your IMs, they will be deleted.
To ensure you get your offline IMs and to work around the cap, they can be sent to the email address that is connected to your contact information. To enable this option, go to Preferences → Chat -> Notices → check Email me IMs when I'm offline.
If you send a reply to an offline IM via email, the original sender will receive it as an IM. The email reply is limited to 1023 characters and must be sent within 5 days.
There are several ways to have your chat windows set up to your liking.
Docked in the conversations window:
As separate windows:
How to dock/undock the chat windows:
How to rearrange the IMs:
How do I make the group chat look like the old style chat?
How do I change the size of the font in chat?
How do I get my Contacts window back?
See this page for documentation on Firestorm 4.7.1 (45325) and earlier.