One feature Opera has been lacking for awhile is easy extension support. Firefox and Chrome both make extensions easy as pie, and Internet Explorer 8 isn’t bad at them either. Now Opera is embracing them whole-heartedly as well, going so far as to create a Mozilla-style extensions website.
I’ve poked and prodded through this site a bit and found some must-haves.
Mini Wolfram Alpha & Wikipedia
Wolfram Alpha has just the coolest name, doesn’t it? Just the name is reason enough to download this extension. What it does, however, is very handy – using this, you have your own mini version of Wolfram Alpha that can be expanded on whatever page you’re viewing. Need some information? Just type in whatever you’re looking for and this plugin will provide all the functionality of Wolfram without having to visit the page.
A similar extension also exists for Wikipedia. Install the Mini Wikipedia extension, opening up the mini window by clicking on the icon in the upper right, and you’re good to go. Wikipedia is effectively converted from a webpage into a browser application.
There isn’t much to say here. YouTube downloader extensions have been popular on every browser, and now Opera users have their own to enjoy with FastestTube. You can download to either MP4 or FLV format. HD versions of YouTube videos are only available in MP4 format.
Google Images Direct
I find Google Images pretty useful, but it would be nice if Google sent you directly to the image in question. I understand why they don’t – they want to make sure you see where the link is being served from so as to give the host some credit – but I’d rather sidestep that. And with Google Images Direct, you can. Now clicking on a Google Image link will send you directly to a full-sized version of the image in question.
Edit The Page
The Edit The Page extension essentially turns the Opera web browser into a mini web editor. Turn it on and you’ll be able to add or delete text, movie images, and even copy-and-paste formating elements. You cannot save these changes, obviously, but you can use this tool to create a quick mockup of what your website (or someone else’s website) would look like if a few images were moved or some text was changed.
As you probably well know, you can use Facebook as an instant messenger by sending in-browser IMs through Facebook itself. That’s great, but sending messages via a webpage isn’t exactly the best way to handle instant messaging.
FaceChat is just one of many ways to resolve this issue. Once installed, FaceChat lets you IM your friends using a pop-up window in the upper right. Oh, and just to be clear, this extension has nothing to do with the website Face Chat.
As most veteran Opera users will tell you, Opera is an incredibly customizable web browser with a lot of things to explore and change. This can make Opera rather difficult to understand for new users, who may lose themselves quickly in its maze of menus. Opera Configurator tries to resolve this by placing many important Opera options in one place.
In fact, it places many arguably not-so-important Opera options in one place. The sheer amount of information here may not make this the best starting point for complete Opera noobs, but users who like to trick out their software will appreciate the level of detail found here.
The extensions feature for Opera 11 Alpha is very new, so there aren’t many extensions to choose from yet, and the ones available are still in early development. If you’re expecting to hop on and find something equivalent to the extension pages for Firefox or Chrome you’ll be disappointed.
This is a brave new world, however, so be sure to let developers know what you think of their extensions (or create your own!). As always, if you have a favorite that wasn’t listed here, let us know in the comments!
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