Making the most of Opera web browser.
Since Opera doesn’t appear to get much love on Tumblr (or anywhere else - it holds about 3% of the browsing market :v), I decided to write this post. Opera is a pretty amazing browser these days, but it can take some feeling around to get it to function the way you want it to - especially coming to Opera from Firefox. I’ve been using it for a while now, and while it’s not always perfect in every situation, it is fast and functional and something I don’t mind staring at for the majority of my waking hours. I will share my secrets, o denizens of the interwebs. Do keep in mind that this is not really a post where I try to convince you to use Opera, despite being filed under “browser wars.” This is mostly a collection of tips for people who have switched or who are already considering it. Finally, I am sorry this is so long, uninterested followers. D:
One thing that might have turned people off in the past (I know it was a big stumbling block for me) is that Opera used to lack extensions. It has them now! And it has adblocking extensions too!
There are a few options available:
- The one I’m using is AdSweep, and I’ve had a great experience with it. It blocks almost every ad I encounter. Veeery occasionally one slips through, but it’s extremely rare and easily dealt with.
- I was originally fooled by the fancy interface of NoAds, but it ultimately caused more trouble than it was worth by insistently blocking legitimate scripts (Disqus, for example). I would not recommend it (though it may have been improved).
- The third option is Opera Adblock, and I honestly haven’t tried this one enough to comment, being happy with AdSweep. I tried it a little when it first came out and wasn’t big on it, but it looks like they may have changed it a lot, so hey, give it a try if it looks attractive to you and switch to AdSweep if it winds up failing your expectations. I might look into it more.
Lastly, there’s Anti-Gate, an extension I’m using on top of AdSweep. Its purpose is a little bit different. It blocks interstitial ads - you know, those pages that pop up and make you wait or skip them when you click on a link. I haven’t been using it long, so I can’t say how well it really works, but it has good ratings, and I haven’t noticed any interstitials since I started using it.This doesn’t actually function that well.
2. Web of Trust
This popular Firefox extension is now available for Opera right here, yay! If you’re not familiar with it, it displays a safety rating for each website and inserts icons into your major search engine result pages so that you can see the rating before you click the link. It also displays a warning when you click onto a site it has deemed unsafe. It’s definitely fallible, but it’s way better than nothing.
Quick note: WoT no longer supports the old version of Google images (unfortunately, that was my preferred version, but images are where I find WoT to be the most helpful… curse you, WoT), but Google forces the Opera browser to use the old version. You can fix this quite easily! Just to to Google, right-click anywhere on the page, go to Edit Site Preferences, go to Network, and select Identify as Firefox under Browser Identification.
You can do this with other sites that browser-sniff (detect your browser, sometimes refusing to let you do something because of it) too and see if it’ll work. Occasionally sites browser-sniff because something won’t work in other browsers, but a lot of the time the features do work in Opera.
3. Getting Things to Look the Way You Want
I know I’m kind of picky about my browser setup, and luckily, Opera caters to that one pretty well. You can change a lot of things, but here are some that might not be readily apparent.
- Getting the classic menu bar: I’ve gotta admit, I didn’t much care for the new menu in Opera 11 (or maybe they implemented it in 10? yeah, I think so). Firefox 4 now borrows the same basic setup, haha. Anyway, in order to get just a plain horizontal toolbar of File/Edit/View/Bookmarks/Tools/etc., go to Menu > Show Menu Bar.
- Adding the bookmarks bar: If you want a bookmarks bar at the top of your browser like Firefox’s, go to Opera menu -> Toolbars -> Bookmarks Bar (new style menu) or Tools > Appearance > Toolbar > check Bookmarks Bar. It comes loaded with a few default bookmarks; just rightclick them to remove or change them. To add your own, drag a tab of the site you want to add onto the bar.
- Changing your search engine on Speed Dial: It’s Bing by default, but I figure most of you will be wanting to change that. Click the arrow by the search engine icon, click Manage Search Engines, select the one you want to make your default on the Speed Dial page, click Edit, click Details, and check the “Use as Speed Dial search engine” box.
- Skins: I don’t really use these myself since I rather like the default Opera skin, and there aren’t many available for Opera 11 yet, but there are a handful here. I like Affinity 3.
4. Different but Useful
Opera has a bunch of optional features, more than I care to attempt to describe; most of them I haven’t even bothered using. But there are a few basic things that someone coming from another browser might not be used to.
- Built-in Speed Dial and customization: MY BFF FOREVER. So much that I said forever twice. I went there. When you open a new tab, you can add whatever websites you want. Click the boxes to add sites. Rightclick the background to customize it with a picture and otherwise configure its options. And if you hate it and want it to go away, enter “opera:config#UserPrefs|SpeedDialState” into your address bar and put “3” into Speed Dial State. Want it back? Change it back to “1” (all sans quotes, of course). You can get something like this in Firefox by extension, but again, Opera’s is built-in.
- Tab stacks: These kind of annoy me at times when I stack tabs by accident, but they can also be SUPER useful when you have a ridiculous amount of tabs open. Just drag a tab onto another tab and they stack into one, allowing you to expand them only when you actually need them. I thiiink something similar was implemented in Firefox 4, so this isn’t unique now, but yeah.
Fortunately, I’ve only run into a couple sites that don’t work in Opera, but I’m just warning you: chances are, you will at some point need a backup browser like Firefox. Again, Opera users are only about 3% of all internet users. As a result, site designers make sure their sites work with IE and Firefox, but they don’t always make sure they work with Opera. ;_;
These are the only two things I can think of that I need to go to another browser for:
- Netflix: AUGHHHHHHH. Netflix outright refuses to support Opera. You can trick it into thinking you’re using Firefox, as mentioned above, but you’ll probably crash your Opera in the process. Stupid Netflix.
- Booty Grab (GaiaOnline): everything else on Gaia works for me, just not the Booty Grab game. Mildly annoying, and even less so now that I rarely visit Gaia at all, but this could be an issue for some Gaia users.
There used to be issues with Scribd, but as far as I can tell it now works 100% in Opera.