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opera_logo.jpgIf you’ve been following my articles on Make Use Of for any length of time, you’ll know that I am a big Firefox nut. But every now and then, I will break out the Opera browser on my PC. Even though Firefox regularly steals the limelight, Opera still has a smaller cult following and it’s only right that we begin to recognise that and give it the attention it rightly deserves.

So since 10% of you said in our recent poll What's your Browser of Choice ? [Poll] What's your Browser of Choice ? [Poll] Read More that you preferred Opera as your browser, I decided for a while to lower my Firefox fanboy gushing and start to look at some other browsers. So let’s start with Opera.

The first thing that strikes you immediately when you start up Opera is the “speed dial”. This is where you can have up to nine thumbnails of websites (which you can specify) and by clicking on one of the thumbnails, you can be taken directly to that site. So obviously you would enter the URL’s of the sites you visit most often.

Opera's Speed Dial Feature

Now if you also have Firefox like I do, you can easily export your bookmarks over to Opera. Synchronizing bookmarks however across browsers seems to be virtually impossible. I suppose the only solution is to bookmark everything to del.icio.us and access everything there.

Opera Link also saves all of your bookmarks and allows you to access them online, the same way Foxmarks does for Firefox. But the whole bookmark thing hasn’t been such a big deal for me as I only use Opera occasionally.

operagoogletoolbar.gifNow in some ways, Opera is a lot like Firefox – tabbed browsing and search toolbar plugins for example, but instead of extensions, Opera has widgets (a bit like Yahoo Widgets or Google Desktop Plugins) But to be truthful I didn’t like them. They were limited in choice and a bit awkward.

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For example, I was offered a Google toolbar (not an official one I hasten to add). But when I downloaded it, it just sat there with nowhere to go. It didn’t slot into the Opera browser nicely. It just sat in the middle of the screen. The toolbar worked fine and took me to the page I wanted to go to but it just got in the way – so in the end it irritated me and I eventually uninstalled it.

So I may just decide to use Opera without any widgets and addons and use it purely as a light-weight, no-frills browser. That may be what makes it so appealing to me. Firefox may be brilliant but it takes longer to load up and it’s a bigger CPU drainer. So if I want to quickly check only one website, I may be inclined to just use Opera as it will open faster and load faster. I’m sure all you Opera fans out there probably don’t appreciate me downgrading your browser like that but hey, each to their own.

I’ve also heard high praise for Opera’s security standards and I’ve had no problems accessing my bank accounts and Paypal accounts on the Opera browser. Here’s Opera’s page on the encryption methods they support.

Oh and if mobile browsing is your thing, try out Opera Mini. Check out the Make Use Of Directory post on it.

All in all, Opera makes an excellent alternative to Firefox and one well worth downloading. But if extensions is something you highly value, you may end up being highly disappointed as I don’t think the Opera widgets match up. But if all you want is a browser to access the net, Opera is a strong contender.

So, please tell me your Opera experiences. What IS going on with these widgets? Is there a way to synchronize those bookmarks? Let me know in the comments!

  1. ph
    April 18, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    "So if I want to quickly check only one website, I may be inclined to just use Opera as it will open faster and load faster."

    I usually use Opera with around 40+ tabs open - try to do that on Bloatfox and you will see where Opera really gets useful ;)

  2. Al
    April 16, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    I am an Opera addict. I couple of things I especially like are the multiple document interface setting, being able to have a strike thru visited links and being able to easily able to showing no images, cached images or all images. These and others all add up to a great product!

    • boss
      December 19, 2008 at 3:03 am

      Opera been inventive everytime sad that there will be firefox extention but , to me Opera will be the favoutite browser.

  3. Christine
    April 16, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    I use diigo.com to backup and store my bookmarks. It also can transfer between platforms.

  4. chuser
    April 16, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I use both FF and Opera. One thing I love about Opera is the "Paste and go" function in the google search box.

  5. Daniel
    April 16, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    @C. M. White

    You can update via Firefox with this site:
    http://windizupdate.com/

    But Maxthon sure has come along way!
    You should check out their downloader! Incredible speed there!

  6. Viky
    April 16, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Opera Rocks...
    It's the Fastest Browser on earth..
    simply the best.

  7. Dan
    April 16, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    @Harsh Karn
    Firefox 3 uses about half the memory that 2 did, and was also proven to use less than Opera.

    • Dorne
      April 16, 2008 at 4:23 pm

      Sure, Firefox 3 was proven to use less than Opera, but that was before Opera Kestrel Beta. I'm not so sure about the information, but Opera 9.5 (codename Kestrel) seems to be doing well.

      http://nontroppo.org/timer/kestrel_tests/

      Here is a list of new things from Opera's Desktop Team
      http://my.opera.com/desktopteam/blog/

    • Rob
      April 16, 2008 at 11:40 pm

      The test results from this page are interesting - I wonder how the latest beta of Firefox holds up, given that they tested Alpha 7 against Kestrel.

  8. C. M. White
    April 16, 2008 at 9:43 am

    I'd love to see a Maxthon article. I just recently discovered it, and it's pretty amazing. It has a lot of the functionality of Firefox, but it runs on the same engine as IE, so you can do things like run Microsoft Update with it (which you can't do on FF without the IE tabs extension).

    • Aibek
      April 16, 2008 at 3:32 pm

      Sure, we plan to review it in the near future.

  9. Harsh Karn
    April 16, 2008 at 7:53 am

    Opera is just great to use. Before coming to opera I tried firefox but it hogged do much memory, that I dropped it.

    Opera works on low memory, even when you have number of tabs open. It has clean look.
    And toolbars could be easily rearranged to give much better view (I wanted large screen area). here's a screenshot of my opera window -

  10. James
    April 16, 2008 at 5:30 am

    I use opera more than any other, and I use it on windoze, ubuntu, debian and mac. I have been using it before firefox was about. Its fast and secure and has inbuilt features you have to 'add' in firefox. Don't get me wrong, firefox is good, its just that I thnk Opera is better.
    Thanx for the article, Opera deserves more exposure.

  11. Manoj
    April 16, 2008 at 4:09 am

    Opera isn’t a lot like Firefox.Firefox is a lot like Opera
    I've to agree with Sharon.

    • Mow3
      April 16, 2008 at 5:33 am

      ...and yet, Opera can't cope with FF community support (extensions, extensions).
      I don't think that I'll trade FF for any other browser in the near future, sorry.

  12. Abhijeet from Jeet Blog
    April 16, 2008 at 2:55 am

    One of the coolest features of Opera which I liked was writing notes in a column alongside the browser. However I did face some problems with Opera like websites were opening slow and sometimes didn't seem to open at all. Hence I have used Firefox since then

  13. PeterD
    April 15, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Couldnt makeuseof.com have an Opera article written by someone that actually uses the browser?

    • Manoj
      April 17, 2008 at 11:14 am

      Good point, really.

  14. Ashutosh Mishra
    April 15, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    I love Opera and I use it without the widgets - they are just irritating!
    But there are lots of inbuilt stuff in Opera - inbuilt BitTorrent client (and it's FAST), email client (not robust but good enough and again FAST), speed dial (The Firefox add-on clone sucks), IRC client (very useful as I am frequent visitor to the Ubuntu channels for my problems), feed reader (much better than Live Bookmarks in Firefox), skinnable interface (pretty good skins) and more configuration options.
    I would say Opera beats Firefox but for the addons...

  15. FekketCantenel
    April 15, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    This article failed to mention three of my favorite features:

    1) creating custom searches from almost any searchbox, which I think Firefox might be able to do, but I'm not sure,
    2) the mail/newsfeeds panel, one of my own greatest reasons for using Opera, and
    3) Greasemonkey/UserJS scripts, which Opera (like Firefox) supports.

    I hope to see these (and the many other) features mentioned in a future post.

  16. Adi
    April 15, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    I feel like Opera is just trying to be a clone of Firefox.
    I have a doubt can we use Opera in Ubuntu?

    • Michael
      April 15, 2008 at 11:59 pm

      Yes you can use it with Ubuntu, this link should be useful to you:
      http://www.opera.com/download/index.dml?platform=linux

    • Manoj
      April 16, 2008 at 4:05 am

      Mate, go get your facts right. Its Firefox and all other browsers that are trying to copy Opera. Opera invented the precursor to tabs (in 1994), Page Zoom (1994), was the first browser to block pop-up ads (2000), first to add a Search field in the browser toolbar (2000), Sessions (1996), deleting private data (2000), Mouse Gestures (2000), User JavaScript (2005), BitTorrent support (2005), Widgets (2006), Speed Dial (2007), and much more.
      And, BTW Opera runs perfectly fine on Ubuntu.

      See this:
      http://www.opera.com/download/index.dml?custom=yes

  17. Ellie
    April 15, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    I was never able to figure out Opera because I like the extensions from Firefox, and I don't think widgets do the same things. If they do, someone clue me in!

  18. Sharon D
    April 15, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Opera isn't a lot like Firefox.Firefox is a lot like Opera.
    Most of Firefox features,including speed dial have been on Opera for a long time
    .Except with Firefox,the features are mostly extensions.
    I use both and IE 7 (if I have to)
    I prefer Firefox 'cause I'm hooked on the extensions,but Opera is a close second.
    Opera's widgets are horrible !!!

  19. Dan
    April 15, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Good article, though I'm going to stick with firefox. For the record you can get the speed dial feature as an add-on:
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4810

    • Koselara
      April 15, 2008 at 9:22 pm

      Also, in addition to the extension (I think there might even be more than one) there are a few websites offering that functionality, either with the locations saved to the hard drive or having them saved to a free account on the site. Two I know of offhand are Only2Clicks.com and Homepagestartup.com -- there are more, but I can't recall their addresses or what search strings bring them up in Google.

    • boss
      December 19, 2008 at 3:01 am

      Wait that mean , I should by the car first and then worry about the engine(feature)
      I prefer built in features.
      Opera been inventing ( zoom page), other browser copy them without a worry.There should be poatent for designing of the Opera then you all are(firefox gone0 and tell me one feature opera took from firefox browser.
      We don't copy , we invent.
      Ok bro I got you.

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