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Opera doesn’t have an inexhaustible supply of extensions like Chrome does. It also doesn’t have endless customization options like Firefox does. What it does have is a set of smart, well-executed features that you often need extensions and add-ons for in other browsers.

Let’s explore eight such Opera features that will make browsing smoother and more convenient for you. We bet you’ll want to start using them right away.

Note: We’ll focus on Opera for computers for now.

Floating Video Player

Opera allows you to overlay web videos while you work How to Overlay Web Videos While You Work on Your Mac How to Overlay Web Videos While You Work on Your Mac Sometimes a little bit of a distraction is what you need to get the job done. Helium is a floating browser that lets you watch web videos while you do something else. Read More . There’s no need to set up anything — just hover the mouse over any video that’s playing on a webpage and click on the special icon (overlapping squares) that appears at the top of the video. When you do this, another instance of that video pops up in a tiny, always-on-top window that you can resize as well as move around. If you can’t see the icon when you hover over the video, pause the video and replay it.

opera-floating-video-player

You’ll need to upgrade to Opera 39 to get the floating video player feature.

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Tab Previews

What’s behind tab number 23 and is that the tab you’re looking for? You don’t have to guess, because Opera has a tab preview feature. It allows you to take a quick peek at what a tab contains by hovering over that tab in the tab bar. That’s so much better than squinting to identify favicons and jumping from tab to tab to see if it’s the one you want, right?

opera-tab-preview

Tab previews come enabled by default. If you want to turn them off (or re-enable them), navigate to Preferences > Browser > User interface. There, deselect (or select) the checkbox next to Show tab previews.

Opera Turbo for Data Compression

If you’re working with a slow or crowded Internet connection 10 Tips To Work Smart When You Get Hit With A Slow Internet Connection 10 Tips To Work Smart When You Get Hit With A Slow Internet Connection You think it's the kind of thing that happens to other people, but sometimes, calamity befalls us. Yes, one day, we will all have to deal with a slow internet connection. Read More , enable Opera’s Turbo feature by clicking on Opera > Opera Turbo. This routes your webpages through one of Opera’s servers and compresses the web content that you’re accessing — ideal for saving data and speeding things up all around.

opera-enable-turbo

Worried about your privacy in Turbo mode? Don’t be: if you’re browsing a secure site with Turbo enabled, your data doesn’t get routed via the Turbo compression servers. Read what Opera has to say about your privacy in Turbo mode.

If you’re on mobile, you’ll want to get Opera Mini for data compression benefits Is Opera Mini's Data Compression Good Enough to Switch? Is Opera Mini's Data Compression Good Enough to Switch? If you're on an older Android, the new Opera Mini is optimized for aging hardware and software. Can Opera actually mount a comeback with this new browser? Let's find out. Read More like you get with Opera Turbo.

Battery Saver

Opera’s Battery Saver mode promises to give you up to 50% more battery life. That extra battery time can be a lifesaver when you’re working on the go How To Maximize Your Productivity Anywhere How To Maximize Your Productivity Anywhere With telecommuting lifestyles taking off, work is not limited by hours or locations. Here are a few pointers to help you make the best of working on a notebook while on the move. Read More and there aren’t any charging outlets in sight.

When you activate Opera’s power-saving mode via the Battery Saver toolbar icon (shown below), it triggers a few background optimizations including fewer animations and reduced tab and plugin activity. You can activate this mode at any time, and you’ll get a prompt to do so when the charge drops down to 20%.

opera-battery-saver

You won’t see the Battery Saver icon when you’re charging your computer. If you’d like to keep the icon visible at all times, you can do that under Preferences > Basic > Battery saver.

Mouse Gestures

You already use keyboard shortcuts to speed up your browsing 32 Keyboard Shortcuts to Speed up Your Workflow in Any Browser 32 Keyboard Shortcuts to Speed up Your Workflow in Any Browser Browsing faster is not an elusive goal, nor does it need drastic changes to your workflow. Adopting a few simple new habits like keyboard shortcuts should do the trick. Here's how. Read More . Now it’s time to give mouse gestures a shot as well. They make it easier to take care of routine tasks such as navigating between webpages, refreshing and closing tabs, and opening links. For example, if you want to go back a page, you can click (on an empty space on the current page), hold down the left mouse button, and then drag the mouse to the left.

To use mouse gestures Browse Faster and Better with Mouse Gestures Browse Faster and Better with Mouse Gestures Can't remember keyboard shortcuts? Prefer using the mouse at all times? You'll love what mouse gestures can do for your browser workflow. Read More in Opera, visit Preferences > Browser > Shortcuts and enable them by selecting the checkbox next to Enable mouse gestures. While you’re at it, select the checkbox for Enable rocker gestures in the same section. With rocker gestures you can move back and forth through a tab’s history by alternately clicking the left and right mouse buttons. Look for the Learn more link next to each of these settings to get a list of the gestures that you can use.

opera-enable-mouse-gestures

Data Synchronization

Like most mainstream browsers, Opera offers away to keep your bookmarks, tabs, and settings in sync across devices.

You’ll need to sign up for an Opera account to take advantage of the sync feature. To get started with a fresh account, click on the tiny mannequin icon to the right of the address bar and follow the onscreen instructions to set up an account. If the icon isn’t visible, you can bring it up by clicking on the Sign In… button under Preferences > Browser > Synchronization.

opera-sync

Free and Unlimited VPN

Thanks to Opera’s buyout of of the VPN service SurfEasy Get Free Unlimited VPN on the New Opera Desktop Browser Get Free Unlimited VPN on the New Opera Desktop Browser Opera is doing a lot to lure users back, and its latest feature is a doozy. Opera now comes with unlimited, free VPN for life! Read More , you now have a VPN feature built into your browser. It’s fast, free, and unlimited i.e. without any data capping. You have the option to use the VPN even in private browsing mode.

To start using Opera’s in-built VPN service, you need to enable it from Preferences > Privacy & security > VPN. Depending on the Opera version that you’re using, you might not have access to the VPN feature yet, but rest assured that you’ll be able to use it soon. Keep an eye out for it! And don’t fall prey to these five VPN myths 5 Common VPN Myths and Why You Shouldn't Believe Them 5 Common VPN Myths and Why You Shouldn't Believe Them Planning to use a VPN? Not sure where to start, or confused about what they do? Let's take a look at the top five myths about VPNs and why they're simply not true. Read More .

opera-vpn

Not sure what a VPN is or why you need one? Let’s backtrack a bit then. A VPN or a Virtual Private Network masks your real location and tricks websites into thinking that you’re browsing from a different location. This is handy when you want to, say, watch a program that’s not available in your country or use public Wi-Fi without compromising on your security How To Combat WiFi Security Risks When Connecting To A Public Network How To Combat WiFi Security Risks When Connecting To A Public Network As many people now know, connecting to a public, unsecured wireless network can have serious risks. It’s known that doing this can provide an opening for all manner of data theft, particularly passwords and private... Read More .

A personalized news feed — an upgraded version of Opera Discover — is another feature to look forward to in Opera. Like the free VPN service, this feature has already made an appearance in the Developer version of the browser.

Sidebar Extensions

While we wouldn’t recommend multitasking, we understand that it’s useful (and even inevitable) on some occasions. For example, you might want to compose a quick email or tweet, or carry on a Skype conversation when you’re browsing. It’s for situations like these that Opera has enabled the use of sidebar extensions. These extensions are no different from regular extensions except that you’ll access the former from a collapsible sidebar.

opera-sidebar-extension

Check out the sidebar extensions gallery and install a few extensions that could boost your workflow. Why not start off with Bookmarks by the Side, Classic Notes, and Quick History?

What’s Missing From Opera?

If you haven’t explored the Opera features that we have listed above, it’s time to do so, and maybe even consider making Opera your primary browser.

When you use Opera on a daily basis, you’ll begin to notice and appreciate all the tiny, thoughtful ways in which it makes your browsing frictionless. For example, how Opera sorts your downloaded files into helpful categories like Images, PDF, Music, and Archives. What’s amazing about Opera is that despite being feature packed, it doesn’t feel cluttered or overwhelming at all.

What do you like best about Opera? And why isn’t Opera your default browser yet Opera Has Good Features, so What’s the Problem? Opera Has Good Features, so What’s the Problem? There is something holding you back from clicking that "Make Opera My Default Browser" button. What is it? Read More ? If it is, share your best Opera tips and tricks with us!

Image Credits: Gajus/Shutterstock

  1. Abhi
    September 2, 2016 at 3:17 am

    Opera does not display my search history in the address bar when I start to type. I have to type the whole search phrase every time. It is the only reason it's not my default browser yet.

    • Avemfly1234
      September 2, 2016 at 5:12 am

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  2. Arichuna Cacique
    September 2, 2016 at 3:14 am

    There is something holding you back from clicking that "Make Opera My Default Browser" button. What is it?

    Opera does not allow the export of bookmarks
    No extension support of many productivity tools within gmail - bcc me / remember the milk / so on..

  3. Sam
    September 1, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    return Tab groups

  4. Henrik
    September 1, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Thank you so much for using Opera AP and Colin, and that you enjoy the new features we have been working hard to introduce lately, like VPN and ad-block.
    Colin, good to hear you have uncovered the secret gem of chrome extensions. Our developers are working on Chromecast support for the final version of Opera right now, and it will arrive very soon. In the meantime, you can try out the Opera beta version, where Chromecast support is already available. Use this guide to make it work, but make sure you use the beta version of Opera: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/how-to-install-google-chrome-extensions-in-opera-browser/

    Best,
    Henrik Faller, Senior Communication Manager in Opera.

  5. AP
    September 1, 2016 at 7:00 am

    I love the Free VPN and builtin adblocker. It's my main browser.

  6. Colin
    September 1, 2016 at 1:57 am

    Opera is a very good browser and you can install Chrome extensions to it, so you have opera's and chrome extensions. I just wish that someday app like videostream and chromecast would work in opera, only thing I use chrome for. If anybody knows how to cast downloaded videos to chromecast from a browser other than chrome, it would make me happy. Even Plex needs chrome to cast. I am using Ubuntu.

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