The Opera web browser is mainly known for security and privacy, but it can deliver so much more than that. The web browser is a feature-rich search engine that offers high levels of security and functionality. Opera is discernibly less popular than the ubiquitous Google Chrome, but it nevertheless still shares the same source code or technology DNA as the highly popular browser.
Not only that, the latest version of the browser is the result of decades of effort to improve its features and capabilities in terms of privacy, speed, and ease of use. In this article, we’ll uncover the features that make Opera a worthy competitor to the likes of Opera and Firefox.
A web browser or search engine is special software specially designed to retrieve and display information from the internet and into your internet-connected device. The web browser’s ability to relay information from the internet is made possible by a web protocol called the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP). This protocol defines how messages are transported and transmitted.
It also determines how web servers and browsers respond to various commands. The way this works is that whenever you enter a web address into your browser, this sends an HTTP request to the webserver. The server then acquires and transmits the requested web page so you can view it on your computer. All web servers serving websites rely on the HTTP protocol. But the only way your computer can connect to the webserver is through a web browser.
What Is the History of the Opera Web Browser?
The Opera web browser is an international browser by Opera Software. In 1996, the company released its first-ever version of the Opera web browser. This version was specially designed for academic institutions. In 2013, the company decided to switch their native Presto engine for Chromium, leading to a significant boost in clientele. Chromium is an open-source project that makes use of the popular WebKit layout. It’s the underlying structure behind top-ranking browsers, including Google Chrome and Apple Safari. The switch to Chromium was intended to help improve its overall user experience.
The strategy proved to be beneficial to users as well as developers. They were able to scale operations to mobile, desktop, and embedded web browser platforms. Now, Opera ranks seventh among the most popular web browsers around the world and has a total user base of over 300 million people. The breakdown would be 28 million users for desktop and more than 232 million mobile users.
Is the Opera Web Browser Difficult to Install?
The installation process for Opera is just as straightforward and fast as other current browsers. Start by downloading and running a very simple installer to unpack the browser onto your device. This will walk you through the basic decisions you need to make about settings. At some point, you will also be asked if you would prefer Opera to be your default web browser. The helper will also ask you for permission to send usage and crash data to the Opera servers, which you should probably accept.
Opera was designed to be readily compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS devices. It’s also compatible with Windows XP, believe it or not. It’s also one of the last web browsers to still support this format with security updates. Its standard format is limited to a 32-bit application. Unfortunately, they haven’t really come up with a 64-bit application yet.
A fresh installation of the program should only take up around 136MB on your hard drive. This is already less than the storage requirements demanded by other top-ranking web browsers for installation. Case in point, Google Chrome takes up 136 MB while Mozilla Firefox takes up to 406 MB of hard drive storage.
What Are the Notable Aspects of the Web Browser’s Appearance?
Opera has a minimalistic but professional appearance that you can modify to fit your personal style. The boxed edges of the browser are softened by the icons which are also square-shaped but with circular edges. At the center of the home page is the Speed Dial, which contains your most visited websites or installed extensions in thumbnail form. The first time you open the Speed Dial, it already contains tabs to basic websites such as Booking, Facebook, YouTube, and Amazon. You can add and delete the thumbnails as you please, as well as organize the thumbnails into folders. There’s also an option to create multiple Speed Dials to break down your list of web pages into categories. It’s also important to note that once you’ve closed the last active tab, the Opera browser doesn’t close and instead defaults to the Speed Dial.
On the left side of the browser is the sidebar, which contains the complete set of the browser’s tools and functions. This tab will offer you quick access to Workspaces, Speed Dials, Flow, and Favorites among other things. Another thing you’ll notice firsthand is that a section of the sidebar contains quick access toolbars dedicated to social media. These tabs will allow you to send and receive messages from any of these apps.
The Opera main menu is represented by the Opera symbol located at the top-left corner of the browser. The menu function contains basic settings like bookmarks, personal news, tabs, history, and more. On the opposite end of the browser to the left are the Snapshot, Save to My Flow, and Easy Setup buttons. The Snapshot button takes a photo of your screen, while the MyFlow button is used to sync your files across multiple devices. The Easy Setup button contains options for customizing security, browser appearance, and tabs.
What Are the Key Features of the Opera Web Browser?
The majority of online users don’t scrutinize the features of the web browsers that they use. However, they can tell when a web browser is making an effort to improve the user experience. Such is the case with Google Chrome, which really gets out of its way to deliver the best web content. It also makes sure that users experience the most convenience while surfing online.
This is something that Opera has always tried to emulate. Over time, they have managed to add their own features to improve the user experience. Here are some of the practical things you can do with the Opera web browser:
Speed Dial is Opera’s most distinctive feature, and it’s a lot like the home screen of your smartphone. On your home screen, you will most likely find a list of applications that appear as thumbnails. Click on any thumbnail, and you’ll be accessing the full contents of the application. You can also add as many apps as your storage permits, move them around, or delete them. It’s the same concept as the Speed Dial.
You have a series of thumbnails on your home page filled with the websites you love and visit frequently. Just like your smartphone home page, you can move the thumbnails around or add and delete them anytime. You can also create multiple Speed Dials to create larger categories for your websites. And of course, you can also customize the home page with colorful themes from the Opera Themes gallery.
Speed Dial not only serves as the instant gateway to multiple websites. It also offers a variety of extensions to cater to your specific interests. These extensions cover a wide variety of topics such as weather, sports, and hobby-based thumbnails right on your home page. Although there are significantly fewer supported ones than Google Chrome’s impressive extension library, there is still a wealth of options to choose from. You can download extensions from the Opera Extensions gallery, and you won’t have to restart your browser.
Opera has also recently added a news feed function underneath the Speed Dial folders. The news feed gives you the option to choose the categories of news articles that show up on your feed, in the way of a personalized page. Unfortunately, Speed Dial doesn’t appear to have automatically generated tiles for your most visited websites. But on the other hand, this only means that you have complete freedom to pick and choose the websites that you want to appear on your web browser home screen.
One of the newer features of Opera is called Video Pop Out. This feature makes your videos “pop out” from the confines of the browser into a separate window. Any video that you play through the Opera web browser should contain an additional button at the top right corner. Clicking on it will activate the pop-out window that will play your video.
Once the video is in a separate window, you can resize it by dragging and dropping the corners to your ideal size. The video should just float above the other windows on your desktop so that the video stays visible with other windows open. And you can also move it around the desktop to other spots most convenient to you. This feature works best when you want to work on something while watching a video.
Ease of use and navigability are some of the key concerns people have with web browsers. Opera has taken these to heart and added the mouse gestures feature. With this feature, you can keybind any mouse clicks to help you navigate through the browser. This will save you the effort of moving the mouse pointer up to arrows and buttons.
For example, if you hold down the mouse button and then swipe down, you can create an entirely new web page. You can also navigate backwards and forwards on websites by dragging the mouse to the left and right. Or, you can open a link in a new tab by right-clicking on it and moving the cursor down. The mouse gestures will take some time to master. But it should become a simple and convenient way to speed up your browsing once you’ve mastered the art.
Ads can be very annoying, to say the least. But sometimes they can even be dangerous, especially with the advent of ad-based malware. Opera tries to offer a solution with their free, built-in ad blocker that will keep those unwanted ads away from your browser. This security function will help speed up your browsing. It will also reduce your computer’s chances of getting infected by malware-infected ads. However, this feature is optional, and you would have to enable it to use it.
To enable the ad-blocker, click on the shield icon next to your address bar, then toggle on the Block ads option. You can enable or disable the ad block feature from the Easy set up menu or directly through Settings. You can also get an ad-block extension that will allow you to further define the websites you want to block ads.
The internet is a wonderful and powerful tool, but it also comes with plenty of security threats that may cost you your privacy and your personal data. A simple scenario such as browsing on public Wi-Fi or not having an antivirus service installed on your computer can make you vulnerable to attacks. You can protect your web browser and personal data with the help of a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN reroutes all of your data through an encrypted virtual tunnel where it will be safe from potential intrusions which can culminate in your data being sold on the dark web. It also obscures crucial information that will help hackers identify you, such as your IP address and location. A VPN will also allow you to access regionally restricted content (i.e. Amazon Prime Video) from anywhere in the world.
VPNs have a long reputation as vanguards for web browser data, but they often cost around $50-$100 annually. Luckily, the latest versions of Opera have a VPN built in, and it’s the very first browser to offer this feature completely free. The VPN doesn’t require a setup, and you simply need to enable it through the Settings. Afterward, you can monitor the VPN status through a special button to the left of the address bar. However, we still need to point out that the Opera VPN covers the basics of VPN. It won’t be able to protect you from harmful websites and other threats online. The best way to protect your data is by installing a combination of an antivirus program and a VPN. Check out this specially compiled list of the best antivirus programs along with a comprehensive guide on how you can install a VPN.
Syncing Across Multiple Devices
Most people nowadays use more than one device to surf the internet, and it would be convenient to have your browsing history uniformly available across multiple devices. The latest updates of Opera include a new feature called Sync that creates duplicates of your browsing information including bookmarks, settings, history, open tabs, and passwords. However, before you can do anything, you’ll need to make sure that you have an Opera account and that you’ve enabled the Sync feature.
To do this, open your Opera desktop app and then tap on the circular user icon at the top right. You can then create and sign in to an Opera account. Once that’s done, you can initiate a sync with other devices by following the same process. Download Opera on the new device, sign in and hit the Sync button.
Another way to go about syncing files, especially with an Android phone, is through QR codes. Start by navigating to the opera.com/connect website using a desktop. You will then need to scan the displayed QR code using the QR reader in the Android-based Opera. The syncing process will take a few seconds to complete. On the plus side, you’re able to save yourself the effort of having to log in.
Aside from Sync, Opera also introduced a new feature called Flow that lets you sync article links. Video links and photos across different devices. To do this, you simply need to highlight the website links, text, or images and then select the “Send to Flow” button from the context menu’s top right corner.
Turbo Mode is another unique feature that can help you during times of slow or unreliable internet. There could many reasons why your internet connection is slow, but the bottom line is the inconvenience it will cause. Turbo essentially compresses the sizes of the web pages that you visit to make them load faster. Opera’s servers automatically compress the data before sending it to your browser, and the lighter data load should result in faster loading time.
While we need to point out that compressed web pages and images will most likely appear in lower quality compared to pages loaded normally, this is but a small compromise for faster loading times. Another thing is that you need to enable the feature each time you need to use it. To enable Turbo mode, visit Quick Preferences under Tools and then select Enable Opera Turbo.
Running out of battery power while you’re surfing the internet can be utterly frustrating. This is what the battery saving mode is for. The way this works is that the system takes a series of automatic steps, including reducing activity in background tabs and shutting down non-essential functions to preserve battery life. This way, you’ll have more time to browse on Opera without having to plug your device to charge.
To enable the battery saving mode, you’ll first need to locate the battery saving icon placed next to the address and search field on the Opera browser. The browser also has the capability to detect low battery status (20 percent). It will prompt you to enable battery-saving mode. If you think your battery is the problem, perhaps next time you can opt for a computer with more durable batteries.
Final Thoughts on the Opera Web Browser
It’s been reported that most people use their web browsers more often than they use any other application on the computer. This is why picking the best web browser is so important. Speed, privacy, and ease of use are three of the biggest considerations. The Opera web browser has committed to these three essential aspects and it shows.
It’s also clear that it has taken the effort to provide an excellent user experience. Their choice to use the same source code as Chrome is also proving to be effective. That positive effect can be seen through its speed, design, and ease of use. The web browser, of course, has its own flaws. But it nevertheless remains an impressive and comprehensive web browsing solution.