Five Irresistable Reasons Why You Should Take Opera 11 For A Serious Spin

Erez Zukerman 15-03-2012

opera 11 reviewHere at MakeUseOf, we give Opera its fair share of coverage. But all of these Opera-related articles will probably interest you only if you’ve tried Opera before. With Google Chrome and Firefox each making such a strong case for  itself as the ultimate browser, it is sometimes easy to forget Opera. But in truth, Opera 11 is an absolutely amazing browser.


While I currently use Firefox as my main browser, I find myself turning to Opera again and again, several times every week. It can be difficult to switch to a different “primary” browser, especially if you’re already set up in another browser with all of your favorite extensions and tweaks.

But if you take Opera as a “secondary” browser and only use it now and then, you may just fall in love with it. Here are some of the main reasons why Opera rocks and you should try it out.

It Feels Fast

opera 11 review

For me, this is the number one reason to use Opera. I had Chrome customized to the gills, but it was slow. Yes, Chrome was slow for me. I don’t necessarily mean webpage rendering, but general performance and responsiveness – the application itself would just freeze for seconds at a time on my computer. I made sure to install the minimum number of extensions, and would constantly disable extensions I found I didn’t use much, but that didn’t really help. The reason I speak of Chrome in past tense is that I’ve since switched to Firefox, but even Firefox is not immune to slowdowns (even though there are quite a few tricks to deal with that, which I will share in another post).

The bottom line is the same in both cases: Whether I am using Firefox or Chrome, some of the things that make them great can also make them slow. Opera is very powerful without any extensions: Above you can see its built-in content blocking feature, which is something neither Firefox nor Chrome have natively. Thanks to its power, you actually need a minimum number of extensions to enjoy a great browsing experience – and that translates to better speed. Add Opera Turbo, and you get one seriously fast browser.


Tab Previews

opera 11 features

Try this with your browser: Put your mouse right under the tabs (between the tabs and address bar), and pull down. What happened? Nothing? That’s because you’re not using Opera. With Opera, this simple gesture “unpacks” the tab bar, and makes every tab into a miniature thumbnail of the webpage. This is an extremely useful feature when researching a focused topic: Above you can see three tabs that all start with the word “Opera”, two of which have the same favicon. With Tab Previews, it’s much easier to switch to the exact tab I need without having to read a long caption to see which of the three similar pages it might be.

Opera also has tab thumbnails that pop up when you hover over a tab; it is one of the first (if not the very first) browser to feature tabs, and it continues to innovate with tabs to this day.

The Original Speed Dial

opera 11 features


Yet another highly emulated feature, Opera’s Speed Dial is the original, and it is still the best in class. Chrome’s “modern” New Tab screen doesn’t even let you pick the websites you want to pin (!), and Firefox’s latest cutting-edge build, 10.0.2, doesn’t even have a New Tab page – it just shows a blank window. Sure, you can install extensions to simulate Opera’s awesome native functionality, but these are serious memory hogs. I’ve written about Speed Dial 2 for Chrome, and it is an excellent add-on, but it took over 20MB of RAM on my system even when it wasn’t being shown. With Opera, I get better functionality baked in, without having to install an add-on.

Opera Turbo

opera 11 features

We don’t all have 100Mbps fiber-to-the-home connections. On a slower broadband connection, not to mention a dialup connection, Opera’s Turbo feature can make a real difference. It’s a similar feature to the one offered for mobile browsers to reduce data plan usage: Opera compresses every page you browse on their own servers, and then you get it from Opera (not from the original server). You can think of it as a built-in proxy with compression, and it works quite well.

It is built very thoughtfully, with an Automatic mode that switches compression on only when you’re connected to a slow network. So if you’re using your laptop at home with your fast connection, Turbo switches itself off; at the coffee shop with the crappy Wi-Fi, it switches back on, and delivers a better browsing experience than your fellow latte drinkers get.


Customizable Keyboard Shortcuts

opera 11 review

As some of you may remember, I use the alternative (and highly superior) Colemak keyboard layout. Because my keys are laid out differently, sometimes I find it easier to customize shortcut keys to be easier to reach. This doesn’t happen often (Colemak keeps zxcvb on the same places as QWERTY, for just that reason), but it’s nice to have the option. Opera includes a built-in feature that lets me tweak the keys however I see fit – again, no add-on needed.

Final Thoughts

If this post didn’t make you want to at least try out Opera, I don’t know what will. Seriously – this is one gorgeous browser that doesn’t get enough love. Next time you’re frustrated with your current browser, just go and give it a spin. You don’t have to switch entirely – but even as a backup browser, Opera is a must.

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  1. Jem
    September 16, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    Opera is my favorite browser. It loads fast and I love how pretty it is. Especially the themes! But I am going to have three complaints to note. One, it does not have the same type of extensions Firefox does and I have become very dependent on Firefox's addons. Two, there are times when certain Youtube vids lag *when sped up* in Opera and I have to watch them in Firefox instead if I want them sped up. This does not happen often but it does happen. Three, and most important to me, I cannot set my own pictures as thumbnails in speed dial. Yes, I know I can scroll thru many options, but I will still find sites that have no lovely picture to represent them. It would have been nice if I could have put in my own picture.

  2. Johan Brochers
    August 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    The speed dial in Opera is arguably the best looking. I have tried many different speed dial options for Firefox and they just don't look as crisp as Opera.

  3. Prashant Mohta
    June 24, 2012 at 9:10 am

    if only there was a browser that allowed me to get my j2me(phone?) bookmarks on my PC i would get it for sure ,

    o.. wait, i already do Opera @ my service :)

  4. Pattie Atwood
    May 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    I like this site. I love Opera. I used it for a while and was impressed, but for some reason I went back to chrome, I think it was because all my stuff was saved in Chrome. Anyway all my stuff has been there ever since. I have had it with Google chrome,. crash kill kill kill...

    • Erez Zukerman
      May 29, 2012 at 12:47 pm

      So, how's your Opera experience so far? :)

  5. Vijay
    May 7, 2012 at 4:31 am

    Agreed, Opera doesn't get enough love. It surely deserves better. I think you missed a really important feature ie. Opera linc. If you use opera on multiple systems, tablets or mobile is really helpfull. I use opera mini on mobile phone, on my tablet, on my pc and on my netbook. I can link(linc) all opera browsers. What that means is, if I save a bookmark on my pc i can access it on my cell phone. If i make changes in speed dials it automatically gets updated in all the opera browsers. I browse some page on my tablet, i can view its history on my pc and continue browsing it

    Apart from this i find opera as fast as chrome. Opera gives me enough reasons to use it as my default browser. Although I feel it lags a bit in extension department. Extensions are not as strong as firefox or chrome. But over all its a great package. And it can also act as a bit torrent client.

  6. Vijay
    May 7, 2012 at 4:30 am

    Agreed, Opera doesn't get enough love. It surely deserves better. I think you missed a really important feature ie. Opera linc. If you use opera on multiple systems, tablets or mobile is really helpfull. I use opera mini on mobile phone, on my tablet, on my pc and on my netbook. I can link(linc) all opera browsers. What that means is, if I save a bookmark on my pc i can access it on my cell phone. If i make changes in speed dials it automatically gets updated in all the opera browsers. I browse some page on my tablet, i can view its history on my pc and continue browsing it there.

    Apart from this i find opera as fast as chrome. Opera gives me enough reasons to use it as my default browser. Although I feel it lags a bit in extension department. Extensions are not as strong as firefox or chrome. But over all its a great package. And it can also act as a bit torrent client.

    • Erez Zukerman
      May 7, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      Linc does sound awesome! Chrome is only now catching up to this feature with Chrome for Android (ICS and above), that includes sync with the desktop Chrome.

  7. noney
    May 1, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    opera is very fast otherwise it sucks
    doesn't respond to middle or right mouse clicks toolbars useless
    doesn't import anything for any other browser
    did not try importing from thunderbird

  8. Irene Gammeter
    April 11, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    All I hear is positive comments about Opera but i am so disappointed that no one seems to have a problem with opening e-mails. Even with Opera Turbo it takes at least 10 minutes to open an e-mail message and today I am still waiting after a half hour to read my mail.. So, anybody what is going on ? Do I have to find another faster browser to have any satisfaction. This is alll so frustrating... Thank you

    • Erez Zukerman
      April 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm

      Hi there,

      You mean gmail? Or Opera's built-in email client? And what's your Internet connection speed?

  9. Lars
    March 23, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Thanks for this very good post, Erez. I've been using Opera since the middle 1990s and have quietly cheered their progress. They deserve to be way more popular. I see we're all doing our parts.

    Over years, I've noticed that Opera will pioneer or invent a feature and others will soon adopt it: the aforementioned tabs (thanks for that insight, Mr Nelson!), the Opera Button, speed dial, etc.

    I have three (first-world) complaints about the Opera browser, which I acknowledge is offered freely to me...

    1. There are way too many preference adjustments. Opera might take a lesson from Mozilla. Look how simple and intuitive are the adjustments in Firefox. And yet look how clean and tight are the controls on Firefox's font styles and sizes, downloads, etc. (Before someone wastes his time telling me, no, Chrome's adjustments aren't as good as Firefox's either.)

    2. The Opera team is proud of all the features loaded into their browser. They should be. When you download, install, and launch the browser, every one of those features appears to be activated. I would like to see most of them turned off. Actually, I would like to see most of them not there at all. You will do a whole lot of fiddling before settling for an acceptable range of font sizes.

    3. As someone mentioned, while it is great that Opera offers their browser to Linux users, the Opera font adjustments in Linux are maddening. Just like Internet Explorer in Windows, somebody appears unclear on the meaning of "minimum font size".

    Better, how about a separate downloadable product called Opera Lite, which is the same browser with the luxuries removed and only the plain and simple essentials kept? (Same security, stability, and speed, but no need for pictures in tabs, Panels, Speed Dial, Unite, Widgets, Skins, Dragonfly, etc, etc).

  10. Mike DeGeorge
    March 21, 2012 at 3:20 am

    Actually, i just checked the memory usage for sites that i had open on Firefox and it was _double_ what Firefox was using!. Opera was using 324,000+KB of RAM, while Firefox was using 187,028KB of RAM.

    • Pablo L
      March 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm

      Despite my preference for Opera, I too have trouble with FB, but then again on other browsers I've tried its no treat either. FF seems to run better on FB, but it also tends to freeze and scrolling is a bit uneven. I like scrolling with keys, sometimes when on FF it doesnt even respond.

      I usually attribute it a messy code design in Facebook, or do you recommend a better browser for it? I dont mind but actually enjoy using different browser for specified tasks.

      The memory usage seems odd but can happen every now and then with any browser. (In my case it is FF) I haven't looked deeper into this issue but with all browsers I usually turn off cache, history etc. which paradoxically seems to free memory usage, especially when surfing pages that refresh and update constantly.

  11. Mike DeGeorge
    March 21, 2012 at 3:16 am

    I just used Opera 11 on Facebook, and it's horrendous on there. It doesn't look the same as Firefox, and the scrolling is a bit slow and just not very good.

  12. Pablo L
    March 21, 2012 at 2:30 am

    Opera offers by far the best user experience for browsing. It's been my main browser for so many years (I still remember when it placed a banner at the top of the browser as a mean for financing the project, but it still was the fastest around.)

    Opera has actually pioneered in numerous features copied and available today in the other apps. It is still the best at tab browsing and adblock and popups blocking with the option to open them (around for years) makes life so simple.

    Firefox is my secondary browser, mainly for its amazing and addictive addons. The problem with Firefox is that it gets quite bulky and slow. But for anonymous browsing, addons for downloading and an arry of other apps, Firefox can never be forgotten.

    Happy to see some love thrown at Opera! Still the smoothest and most elegant browser ever!

  13. Anonymous
    March 20, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    I think Opera is cool, thought you MUST include also the downsides.
    With Opera Turbo, all the data that is being transferred can be read and stored in their serves, giving it some extra vulnerabilities for moving your money online.

  14. Richard Kivinen
    March 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    I have been using Opera for years now, I use firefox, chrome, safari & IE9 also, I find opera just a lot better for speed and usability. Its a shame I cant get opera on my phone WP7

    • Erez Zukerman
      March 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      I'm sure that will come, too. Personally, I think wp7 is going to explode with apps -- it's the next big thing imho.

  15. Rey Aetar
    March 20, 2012 at 11:43 am

    still in desktop its useless and i use it on phone coz i have no other choice..

  16. sherrydave
    March 17, 2012 at 10:29 am

    The problem I have with opera is no open link in new tab shortcut, which is my most used browsing action, that and scrolling which is also broken and lags on many sites.

    • kxp
      March 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm

      you can use middle-click, right click and select open in new tab, hold right mouse button, move mouse down and release (mouse gesture) and shift-click and ctrl+click . Some are the options for background tab, some for active tab.

      And then there's an extension, that allows me to just long-press left mouse button to open in background... i prefer using it on my laptop.

  17. Debra Beshears
    March 16, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    If I am correct, Opera was the first browser to use tabs. When it first came out I had an old pc and dial up--and couldn't handle it. I used Firefox for a long time and then switched to Chrome. I have the same problem with Chrome as E.Z., so switched back to Firefox. I think I will give Opera another try. I use Opera on my phone and love it!

    • Nelson, old guy
      March 18, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      Global Network Navigator (GNN) was the first browser I saw that had tabbed browsing. I was field testing it in 1995 on Windows for Workgroups prior to the release of something called Windows 95, which was released without an internet browser.

  18. Dave
    March 16, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Thanks for your post. I've always thought Opera has had a different, more elegant take on browsing, but I used FF for its extensible framework. As chrome matured, more add-ons were available and I found the browsing experience to much quicker (at least subjectively). It wasn't as big a memory hog either.

    Opera, imo, has the most beautiful and powerful default front end of all the browsers. It's just some of the minor problems that ruin the experience for me. Let me mention a small one- but it's large to me, because it has to do with a very common function- scrolling. On some sites, the scroll doesn't immediately follow a down to up scroll. I scroll up and it goes down for 5 lines or so and then goes up. Or I'll be on a site and it goes down one line before going up. On other sites (including this one) it doesn't do that.

    I find the direction being taken by makeuseof to be worthwhile. Articles on different aspects of computing are either general surveys/reviews or they clearly (and the emphasis is on clearly) depict a particular opinion on a topic. I get it that you are an Opera fan and that you're suggesting people give it a spin. I don't think that equates to Opera "sponsoring" this post.

    Thanks for getting me to try it out again.

  19. kxp
    March 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Opera has been my main browser for god knows how long... i think from somewhere from opera 6 or 7 release. It has definitely always had most features built in compared to anything else and mostly has been an early adopter of new features.

    I like some of the features firefox (variety of plugins) and chrome (compactibility), but they never give me the overall satisfaction without filling them from head to toe with extensions/addons/plugins.

    I think speed dial extensions should be also mentioned. I use google reader and calendar extensions besides others. Never again have i missed an appointment, when it just stares me in the face every time i'm on speed dial.

    The only thing I hate is the lack of chipcard support. I need it to basically do everything, that's related to my country (education, signing of documents, telecommunication (internet, mobile), healtcare, banking, goverment websites for taxes, information, census, elections etc). I even need it to buy public transport passes. Basically this gives the need to use another browser for a whole country.

  20. Jerry
    March 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I use Opera Mobile on my Android tablet (Toshiba Thrive). Love it!

  21. agustin
    March 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Great article! You convinced me. Faster than Chrome???????? I will try it!

  22. Madis Otenurm
    March 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    It might feel faster, but is still different. Turbo is cool indeed, but there are a lot of extensions that aren't available on Opera. Also, there's no built-in flash player nor PDF viewer...

    (Sadly,) No.

    • Erez Zukerman
      March 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      I think I can guess which browser you use... ;)

    • tankedi
      June 19, 2012 at 11:04 pm

      Not exactly sure what you mean about no built-in flash player (isn't adobe flash player universal?), but there is a pdf viewer that can be implemented directly into the opera browser... Sumatra PDF. Sumatra PDF is an excellent pdf viewer and in my eyes it gets down the essentials better than adobe reader.

  23. wyrwolf
    March 16, 2012 at 9:49 am

    I'm always adding Opera to my friends' computers, because it drives me crazy to have to have surf the web with other browsers that are not only WAY slower but aren't configured the way I like. They're always first out with new features, and you missed one of the best: emulation of other browsers.

    • wyrwolf
      March 16, 2012 at 9:51 am

      Oh, I forgot - easiest update process, too.

    • Erez Zukerman
      March 16, 2012 at 11:43 am

      I did miss that! Can you tell me a bit more about that feature? I didn't see that in the feature list.

      • kxp
        March 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm

        You can set settings for pages individually under the content setting chart or by second-clicking on a site. Under the network tab is browser identification. Actually you can manually set many other cool options per site as well.

        @wyrwolf, the update process is almost as easy as on chrome. The difference is that chrome doesn't show being updated and keeps a service on for that, updates on startup.

        • wyrwolf
          March 16, 2012 at 7:59 pm

          you can set Opera to auto-update, too, but I precisely DON'T like auto-updates or update-services - too many times they cause a slowdown at an inconvenient time.

  24. Alex
    March 16, 2012 at 8:35 am

    I'm a long time Opera user (since early 2005). Opera is just better geared toward my personality and internet surfing style. Opera has THE BEST ad blocking both built in and as extensions; I haven't even seen an ad in forever. It was the first to have a builtin download manager, and it's still the best BY FAR. It has built in torrent support (it was also the first to have this too). Opera was the first to offer synchronization of bookmarks and the like; technology which Firefox uses, and it's a BILLION times easier than on Firefox. Opera shows flash on Linux better than Firefox as well. Opera is also far more configurable than Chrome and Maxthon; with turbo on it even offers maxthonian grade speed(crucial for Linux users like me for whom there is no Maxthon 3). It has Unite for file sharing builtin. It's not perfect; the extensions could be a LOT better (I'm lookin at you stumbleupon). A lot of the extensions are Chrome ports however; Opera includes technology from WebKit so the massive popularity of chrome has caused a big spike in the number of good extensions. Opera is Awesome and only gets better...

  25. Bogdan
    March 16, 2012 at 8:10 am

    And two strong reasons it's unusable: doesn't take font settings into consideration under linux and the opera team doesn't care about their users.

    • Erez Zukerman
      March 16, 2012 at 8:14 am

      That's a bit general, isn't it? What do you mean by the Opera team not caring about their users?

  26. Nikata
    March 16, 2012 at 7:52 am

    I used opera for some time before, but after I tried chrome I almost forget opera, they both have a simple interface and fast speed, But I like chrome more than Opera.
    Now I mainly use three browsers for their advantages.
    chrome if course for its fast speed, firefox mainly for the various add-on, Avant browser for its tri-core rendering engines(IE firefox and chrome).Ilike using them at the same time for different purpose.

  27. Divit
    March 16, 2012 at 6:59 am

    I believe that you forgot to mention Mouse Gestures.
    Or did they ditch that... (It's been some time since I used it)

    • Erez Zukerman
      March 16, 2012 at 8:07 am

      No, they're still there. Just not a feature I use a lot (I have a trackball).

  28. the_wanderer
    March 16, 2012 at 5:59 am

    I use Opera as my backup browser and it is, in my opinion, the superior browser to both Firefox and Chrome out of the box for it's speed, reliability, and lightweight nature. However, Firefox is still my main browser for one reason: the FlashGot extension. I just find this extension invaluable and always notice its absence when I am in Opera. If Opera had an equivalent extension, I would uninstall Firefox and make Opera my full-time browser without a second thought.

    Also, for a more technical comparison between the browsers, check Lifehacker's recent speed test: Might give some additional incentive to at least give Opera a try.

  29. Greg
    March 16, 2012 at 5:04 am

    It is every bit as good as this suggests - always has been faster, more responsive and with nice touches like turbo it truly is worth looking at - especially when you can use it to manage your email too!

    It is my main browser and email client - I try other things and always prefer my Opera

  30. Rodge
    March 16, 2012 at 5:00 am

    My Browsers (in order of merit)
    1. Chrome
    2. Firefox
    3. Maxthon
    4. Opera
    5. Rocketmelt
    Yes, I use them all, concurrently. I just love Opera because of the transparent skins and because it is light

  31. Blaszta
    March 16, 2012 at 4:42 am

    All of the features mentioned here is already exist prior of 11 version. So what's new?

    • Erez Zukerman
      March 16, 2012 at 8:06 am

      I wasn't focusing on new features for 11.5 -- it's just that this is the current version. The article was aimed at people who don't use Opera at all, not people who have been using older versions of the browser. Sorry if that was confusing.

  32. Qwertinsky
    March 16, 2012 at 4:38 am

    If there was an Adblock+ for Opera I would consider it.

    • Indronil
      March 16, 2012 at 5:11 am

      yes there is adblock for opera

      • Morgan
        March 16, 2012 at 10:34 am

        Though I've found the adblock in Opera is difficult to create exceptions compared to Firefox.

  33. Chris Hoffman
    March 16, 2012 at 4:35 am

    I used to use Opera many years ago. It definitely had the speed.

  34. Ankur
    March 16, 2012 at 3:50 am

    Impressive. I never thought I would move to anything except chrome but this article has made be try Opera.

    • Erez Zukerman
      March 16, 2012 at 8:05 am

      Awesome! How did it go?

  35. jasray
    March 16, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Although I rarely use Opera, I actually love it when I do. Add Opera Unite to the mix, and a user has a nifty little setup. Easy and reliable. Guess I'll have to go figure why I don't use it more often. The font rendering is super crisp. The best. No complaints here.

  36. Oj
    March 15, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    This article is obviously sponsored by Opera. However I believe that opera has some speed to show off.

    • asdfgh
      March 16, 2012 at 2:36 am

      seems legit

    • Erez Zukerman
      March 16, 2012 at 8:05 am

      This article was sponsored by no-one, actually, but thanks for your vote of confidence. :)