Browser programs are our main method of accessing the World Wide Web and navigating its endless supply of webpages and websites. Having your PC equipped with a good browsing software can make a very big difference in your online experience – there are a lot of factors to consider regarding this such as speed, options/useful features, stability, updates, security, anonymity, etc. Currently, the most popular browsers out there are Google Chrome, IE (Edge for Win 10), Mozilla Firefox and Safari (on Macs). There is a reason why these are so widely-used – they are some of the best browsing programs out there and the functionality they provide is difficult to replace. However, in the present article, we will review one other browsing program that, though relatively popular, isn’t as used as the ones that we already mentioned
Introduction to Opera
Opera is a Chromium-based browser which means that it shares a lot of similar characteristics with other browsers based on Chrome (Google Chrome included). However, there are a couple of things that need to be mentioned here which set apart Opera from other browsing programs which you might have encountered and used. The main thing that Opera is known for is a number of innovations that it has introduced. As you might have heard, Opera is said to be the first browser to use tabbed interface. It is often argued that what Opera did back then wasn’t exactly the tabbed interface that we know now, yet it did similar job before any other browsing program offered such an option. Here, we will go over the most popular and useful of them.
One neat feature that Opera has is an integrated ad-blocker that can be enabled from the browser’s settings. It works rather well and manages to block nearly all forms of intrusive ads that you might encounter on the Internet. The feature even stops YouTube video adverts that start playing at the beginning or in the middle of the video that you are currently watching. There is even a counter at the top-right which shows you how many ads the browser has blocked so far. If you want to disable the ad-blocker for a specific site, you can easily do so by clicking onto the X button next to the blocked ads counter and turn off the switch that gets displayed. All in all, a useful feature that has the potential to make one’s browsing experience much more pleasant.
Pop Out videos
Another interesting option that you have with Opera is to move the video that you are watching to a separate window which stays above your browser or any other window or program that is currently opened. That way, you can watch a YouTube or Facebook video while doing something else on your PC without the need to have the actual page with the video currently visible on your screen. In order to activate this, you’d simply need to hover your mouse over the specific video and click on a small double-screen icon that gets displayed on the top of it.
This is yet another unique feature that Opera has – the Speed Dial is a separate page which works similarly to a Bookmark Menu. The Speed Dial is the default page that opens each time you open a new tab. The sites displayed in the Speed Dial are organized as tiles making it easier to find the one you are looking for and also making it tab-friendly (for Android users, for example). You can freely organize and customize the Speed Dial page but you cannot change its surf engine which is always Google.
In addition to the previous options Opera offers, users are also able to make their browsing faster and more efficient by using mouse gestures in order to navigate through the pages. For example, holding the right mouse button and swiping left or right would enable you to go back and forward between the different pages. Also, if you hold the right mouse button and swipe down, a new tab will open. While some might find it easier to do those actions the regular way or via keyboard combinations, once one gets used to using the mouse gestures, the browsing becomes faster.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Opera is the only big browser that offers a VPN feature to help users improve the security of their system when using a public Wi-Fi network. As we all know using public Wi-Fi comes with a number of potential risks as getting your data stolen by hackers, or getting redirected to shady websites. A virtual Private Network helps you avoid that risk. A VPN can also enable you to access content that is unavailable for your geographical location such as certain YouTube videos, for example. Enabling this option is simple, all you need to do is go to Settings, scroll down until you find it and place a tick in the checkbox. After that, a VPN icon will appear left of the website URL and you’d be able to turn it on and off from there.
There are two main things that Opera seems to lack which might annoy some users. The first one is a Reading Mode option which is useful when reading articles on sites with a lot of banners and obstructive content. The other one is a social sharing tool. Also, in some cases, certain websites might fail to recognize the browser which can be rather annoying, though instances of this are rather rare.
Opera is one of the faster browser, yet it is not the fastest that you can have. Popular browsers that provide greater performance speed are Mozilla, Chrome, Maxthon and Edge. That said, Opera is still a good performer and it also has a Turbo Mode which, when enabled, compresses data that is transferred, effectively increasing the speed and decreasing the size of the loaded data. This is especially useful when the Internet connection isn’t fast or when the data which can be loaded is limited by your Internet provider. Also, there is a Battery Saver feature which reduces the browser’s use of energy – perfect for laptops when they aren’t plugged in to the grid.
Opera is compatible with versions of Windows from XP to 10 and it is one of the few browser which still issues updates for XP. It can also be used on Mac OS and on several of the more popular Linux systems.
All in all, Opera is a neat browser that comes with a number of unique features and options that users some might find highly-beneficial. And while this browser might not be the fastest and the best performing, there are very few things that it lacks which other browsing programs might offer.