Friday, September 14, 2007

10 extremely useful features of Opera that you won't find in other browsers

Opera is an internet browser, in case you don't know which isn't surprising given it's 2% market share. But that doesn't make it a bad browser. On the contrary, Opera is one of the finest browser to have ever been developed. It comes laden with tons of features that makes surfing a great experience. Here I'm going to present, in no specific order, Opera's ten most useful features that you won't find in any other browsers.

1. Cached image: Any website that you open has dozens of images embedded in it. It could be the site's banner, its background, the buttons, the small bars and all sorts of tiny images that make the website pretty to look at. Most of these images are superfluous and eats of lot of bandwidth without serving any purpose other than making the website look nice. Every time you open a page these images get downloaded. If you visit a site frequently that same images are downloaded every time you open that site. Now Opera has this nice little feature called cached image where the browser can load images from the browser's cache rather than from the site's server. This means that you save a lot of bandwidth since Opera doesn't download the images from the server. Let's see how much bandwidth you can save from the popular sites.

Site             Size without images    Size with images       % bandwidth saved

BBC                   42.6 KB                      140 KB                               70%
MSN                  36.2 KB                      239 KB                               85%
Yahoo                111 KB                       270 KB                               58%
Digg                  66.4 KB                      373 KB                               82%

Can you believe the figures? You better believe it. By browsing with cached images you can save 60% to 85% of your bandwidth!! This isn't only about bandwidth. The fact that your browser has to download 60% to 85% less bytes means that your pages open 2.5 to 6 times faster!! You can find this setting under Tools>Preferences>Webpages. There is also a button for it. More about buttons later.

2. Go to URL: Often in some sites, usually forums, the url or the website address isn't hyperlinked. Which means that you have to copy the url and paste it in the address bar and hit enter. Opera makes this entire operation simple. Copy the url, right click and from the menu which pops up select Go to URL - just two clicks!!

3. Create search: Opera allows you to add your own custom search engines to your browser. Wherever you find Search on a website, just place your mouse pointer on the search box, right click and from the menu click Create search. Set a shortcut key for the search and hit OK. If you are fast enough the entire operation takes less than 3 seconds!! Beat that!

4. Search in address bar: In Opera you can search directly in the address bar. Just prefix the search keywords with the shortcut key I just told you about in the previous point. There are some default shortcuts like g for Google, y for yahoo, a for etc. For example, if you want to search say "backstreet boys songs", type "g backstreet boys songs" in the address bar and you will get Google's results.

5. Create buttons: If you use a certain feature of Opera and there is no default button for it to place it in the toolbar, don't be disheartened because there is Opera button maker that will make a button for you. Just select the function you want to use and set the necessary parameters. The button maker will create a button which you can drag it to your toolbar.

6. Stop executing script: Some websites pop up a javascript alert box whenever you make certain action on a site. For example, in some forums when you try to logout it pops up a box asking your permission. This can tend to become annoying. Whenever such a box comes up, look at the left hand bottom corner of the box for a check box saying "Stop executing script on this page". It does exactly what it says. Check the box and you won't be troubled any more.

7. Fit to width: This is very helpful if you are viewing a page that is too big for the monitor. For example, if you are viewing a page with width 1024 pixels on a monitor with resolution 800x600, parts of the page won't be visible and you have to scroll horizontally which is annoying. Press Ctrl + F11 to wrap the page to fit the size of the browser window. This feature is also useful if you want to compare two sites. Open both the sites in two separate windows, place both the windows side by side and fit-to-width both the pages. There is also a button available for this function which you can place on your toolbar.

8. Click to select: If you want to select a certain portion of the text displayed on a site you don't have to drag the mouse all over the page. A double click will select a word, triple click will select a sentence andand one more click will select a paragraph.  Most people are unaware of this feature.

9. Site preferences: Opera allows you to have different settings for different websites. You can allow javascript, images, plugins etc for one site while disable it for others. Some websites allow only a certain type of browser, usually Internet Explorer, to view the site and reject others. You can set the identification of Opera as Internet Explorer for only those sites that allow IE while for the rest of the sites your browser will be detected as Opera. There are lots of other features available under Site Preferences.

10. Widgets: A widget is a small program that runs on the desktop separate from the main browser and performs certain tasks. There are weather widget that get you weather reports, clocks, feed readers, games etc. You can find all kinds of widgets on the Opera site.

Most of Opera's features has been simulated in other browsers through the use of extensions or add-ons, but these are the features that you will find only in Opera. Even if some Firefox extension exist that does similar job, rarely do they work as great as Opera's, eg the "create search" Firefox extension.


  1. 4 is partially incorrect as FireFox has a search-in-address-bar feature. it's not quite the same, though. FF will try and find a website that matches what you typed in. if it can't, it will go to google's search results.

    and 8 is completely false. the click to select is feature of the OS.

  2. I'm sorry for the inaccuracies in my post. There are so many FF extensions that it's difficult to ascertain whether a certain feature is available or not. :)

  3. it's not an extension. it's in there by default. that is why Google looked like a hypocrite when it complained about MSN search being the default in IE. (oh, and IE has search-in-address too.)

    granted, neither are as robust--letting the user choose which search engine, etc.

  4. *Every* browser caches images. Every damn one, at least since Netscape 1.0.

    As for searching in the address bar, you can configure that in Firefox a variety of ways. One is with bookmark keywords, the other is by changing the value of keyword.URL in about:config

  5. Every browser caches images. That's right. But no browser loads images from the cache. You did not understand what I said because you never used it. Opera can load images into the browser from it's cache without downloading it from the net. Other browsers has only 2 options - either to show images, where every image is downloaded from the net or don't show images.

    With Opera you can "see" images without downloading it from the net, if that image is already present in the cache.

    First use it, only then you will understnad how useful that feature is.

  6. Not trying to look you down or make you feel bad but you are kindoff a opera fanboy that has no real grasp of what other browsers can do ? =)

    Seriously. None of the features you listed are truely unique and most of them dont even require addon.. Come now, are you really serious with this stuff ?

  7. Wow you guys must be idiots. Of course most browsers have this functions now, its because we are in 2009 and this post is from 2007. They did not had then im 2007, I can point EVIDENCE that most function he posted here where not in Firefox or Explorer. Opera has always be first in putting functions in browsers. YES.

  8. And even now, almost in the year 2011, Opera has unique features - or where is a true "fit to width" in Firefox or Chrome?

  9. Well, most of these features are now available in other browsers - either natively (search from address bar, Go to URL) or via extensions. But I still cannot find anything remotely similar to 'Cached images'. I love that feature. Saves me a ton in bandwidth every month and pages open in a snap.


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