Features of the Opera web browser

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This article details features of the Opera web browser.

Currently supported features[edit]

This section describes the features available in Opera after it has been rebuilt using code from the Chromium project.

Page zooming[edit]

Opera offers full page zooming.[1] Instead of just making the text bigger, this feature expands all page elements, including text, images, videos, and other content such as Adobe Flash, Java and Scalable Vector Graphics to be increased or decreased in size (25% to 500%). Extensions may also be used to do this and to enable high contrast coloured fonts. Full page zooming prevents inconsistencies that occur when regular text enlargement forces the content to be bigger than its container.

Zooming can be done using multi-touch pinching gestures on supported platforms.

Download manager[edit]

Opera allows the user to pause, resume or restart the transfer of files. It also keeps the history of downloaded files and allows opening them or the folder where the file has been downloaded to from within the browser.[2]

When a download starts a pop-up and a button will appear at the top right part of the interface to show the progress.

Image loading setting[edit]

Opera offers the option to load a page without images, or to use only images already in the web cache.[3] This might be useful if a user is connected on dial up via modem or on a slow wireless/cellular connection that may charge for the amounts of data downloaded.

Mouse gestures[edit]

Since: Opera 5.10, released April, 2001.

Users have the option of accessing common browsing functions with combinations of mouse movements.[4] Mouse gestures work by holding the right mouse button, moving the mouse a certain direction, then releasing the button. This option is similar to using keyboard shortcuts, as it saves time because users do not have to navigate to graphical buttons using the mouse pointer (thereby avoiding usability problems relating to Fitts' Law). Some of the default mouse gestures include:

  • Back - right-clicking anywhere and dragging the mouse towards the left.
  • Forward - right-clicking anywhere and dragging the mouse towards the right.
  • New tab - right-click and dragging down.
  • Close tab - right-click and making an L-shape movement (drag down, then right).
  • Zooming - holding down the CTRL key and scrolling the mouse wheel. Scrolling up enlarges the page by 10% increments, and vice versa.
  • Flip back and forward A.K.A Rocker gestures - hold the right-click mouse button and click left, and vice versa.

Pop-up blocking[edit]

Opera lets the user control whether web sites can open pop up windows. By default Opera blocks all unrequested pop-ups and the behavior may be set on a per-site basis. Windows that have been blocked may be later opened at the user's discretion.

Search engines[edit]

Since: Opera 4, released June 28, 2000.

Opera provides quick access to a variety of search engines and commerce sites, via the use of search plugins. The user can type the search string in the address field and it'll display search suggestions for supported websites.

Many search plugins are included with the browser, but they can also be user-defined or installed from external sources. Since Opera 9, a user can right-click a search field on a website and select the "create search" option to add it as a custom search engine. Additionally, with this function a user is able to translate a paragraph or look for the meaning of a word directly for example.

The user can select the desired search engine via a list or by using keywords in the address field. Example: Opera has a pre-set keyword for using the Google search engine: "g". Therefore, if a user types "g wikipedia" directly into the address field, Opera performs a Google search for "wikipedia".

Speed Dial[edit]

Since: Opera 9.2, released April 11, 2007.

A Screenshot of the Speed Dial Page on Mac OS

Opera 9.20 introduced "Speed Dial Browsing". The blank page when a new tab is opened is replaced with a page with slots which the user can set to contain webpage bookmarks. This feature is based on the speed dial browsing previously introduced in Opera Mini.[5] New versions of Opera's Speed Dial improved the feature by allowing an unlimited number of speed dial entries, Speed Dial extensions, introducing groups, real-time search of entries, added support to user-defined backgrounds and different resolution display layouts (e.g. widescreen).

Users are able to save all the open pages in a window as a Speed Dial group, manage the saved links, and open them all later if wished.

Opera Turbo[edit]

When the Opera Turbo mode is enabled, Opera compresses requested web pages (but not HTTPS secure pages) by up to 80%, depending upon content, before sending it to the user.[6] This process reduces the total amount of data sent and is particularly useful with slower Internet connections, making pages load faster, or when there are restrictions or costs dependent upon the amount of data transferred.[6] This technique is also used in Opera Mini for mobile telephones.[7]

Tabbed browsing[edit]

Since: Opera 4, released June 28, 2000.[8]

Opera supports tabbed browsing. This means multiple web pages can be opened within the same application window. The tabs can be managed in a tab bar (opening, closing, rearranging, etc.). The user is given options to perform actions such as cloning a tab with its complete history or pinning it. Notably, the part of the tab which displays a page's favicon is used as the indicator of the page loading progress.

Private browsing[edit]

Opera 10.50 introduced a privacy mode, which allows users to surf the web without leaving traces of the browsing session in that special window.

Recently closed pages access[edit]

Since: Opera 7, released January 28, 2003.

Opera allows the user to retrieve all of the tabs or windows closed earlier in the current session from a list. Closed tabs can be recovered in the reverse sequence in which they were closed, by default this is achieved via the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + T.

Extensions[edit]

Since: Opera 11, released December 16, 2010.

Starting with version 11, extensions are supported in Opera. Extensions allow adding functionality to Opera easily and currently share most APIs with the Chromium extension model. Developers can easily create extensions using open standards (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript) and specific extensions can be created to function as Speed Dial items.

Password manager[edit]

Every page with a password form gives the user the option of storing the password for later use. To speed up the use of the website, when a user re-visits these pages, the username and password fields will be already filled in.

Safer address field[edit]

Opera applies domain highlighting, hides the complexity of long web addresses by hiding the query strings and instead of displaying the protocol it displays a badge you can click to see a security assessment for any particular page being visited, including information about available SSL or TLS certificates. This tool is directly tied to NetCraft and Phishtank (citation needed for the latest version), thereby serving as a phishing filter as well as real-time fraud protection.

Standards support[edit]

Check the History of the Opera web browser article to learn about the progression of standards support in Opera.

Standalone installation[edit]

Since Opera 11, the installer gives you the option to install the browser as a "Standalone Installation (USB)" which doesn't make any modifications to the system it's executed on.[9]

Legacy features[edit]

This section describes the notable features that have been available in older versions of the web browser.

Usability and accessibility[edit]

Opera was designed to run well even on low-end and small computers, and with a commitment to computer accessibility for users who may have visual or mobility impairments.

It is possible to control all main functions of the browser using only the keyboard, and the default keyboard shortcuts can be modified. Opera also supports the use of access keys to allow a computer user to immediately jump to a specific part of a web page via the keyboard. Opera was also one of the first browsers to support mouse gestures,[10] allowing patterns of mouse movement to trigger browser actions, such as "back" or "refresh".

Bookmarks[edit]

In Opera 15, the classic bookmark functionality was originally intended to be supplanted by an improved Speed Dial and the introduction of the Stash feature. Many users did not find this to be adequate, and it has since been announced that bookmarks will be reintroduced in the future.[11]

Fit to width[edit]

A "Fit to width" feature that relies on technology similar to Opera Mini's Small Screen Rendering (SSR), allowing websites to fit within a smaller screen resolution without the need for horizontal scrolling.

Content blocker[edit]

Content Blocking can be used to block any content on a page, including images, plug-ins (like Flash), videos, scripts, styles, and other resources. To block content, a user must right click on the page, and click "Block Content". It's then possible to simply select the elements you wish to block. Users can also control how much they want to block expand using URL's with wildcards and such.

Opera stores its content blocking URL list in a file called urlfilter.ini. Several internet sites provide a regularly updated urlfilter.ini already loaded with the web's most common advertisements so users can block ads using the built-in feature. The users are able to sync the content blocker list using Opera Link.

BitTorrent[edit]

The ability to transfer files via a built-in BitTorrent client was introduced in Opera 9, released June 20, 2006.

Hotclick[edit]

Since: Opera 6, released December 18, 2001

Hotclick refers to double-clicking any word in a page and having it to open the context menu instantly, which in Opera includes commands for searching the selected text in search engines and built-in translation, encyclopedia and dictionary services. In addition to this, the Hotclick menu also gives access to the 'copy', 'copy to note' (Opera 7 and later), and 'Send by email' functions.

Mouse gestures[edit]

Opera used to offer some mouse gestures that are no longer available in the latest version as of now, for example:

  • Scroll through tabs - hold right mouse button and roll wheel to cycle through the open tabs.
  • Clone tab - right-click, drag down then up
  • Open link in new tab - hover a link, right-click and drag down.
  • Open link in new background tab - hover a link, right-click and drag down then up.

Panels[edit]

Some tools relating to browsing and email functions are organized within Opera Panels. Users can add additional tools by downloading or creating their own. Examples of tools installed by default:

  • Bookmarks - lists all the bookmark folders and the bookmarks they contain.
  • Mail - serves as access point for email accounts, folders, labels and news feeds.
  • Contacts - email address book.
  • History - provides a log of all pages accessed.
  • Links - list of links available in the current page.
  • Notes - displays all the notes folders and the notes they contain, it allows the user to edit pure text notes.
  • Info - displays page-specific information, including its MIME type, local cache, size, security information, and encoding.
  • Windows - provides management for all the tabs and windows open.
  • Transfers - simplified view of the download manager.

Full text history search[edit]

Since: Opera 9.5, released June 12, 2008

Words typed in the address field perform full-text search in the browser history. This allows a user to find a page previously accessed by searching by part of the text of its content.

Sessions[edit]

Since: Opera 4, released June 28, 2000

Opera allows the user to save all the open tabs and windows as a session. This set of pages can then be reopened later as they were previously organized or inserted into the current window. Opera can also be set up to start with one of the saved sessions. A saved session includes the history of each tab and the settings each one had, such as scrolling position, images on/off, etc.

Tabbed browsing and MDI[edit]

The tabbed browsing features that have been available in the older versions include:

  • Thumbnail preview for each tab - set to return in an upcoming version.
  • MDI: tabs can be resized, moved, tiled, and cascaded like normal application windows in the operating system.
  • Tab-stacking - Since version 11.0, dragging one tab over another allows you to create a group of tabs.
  • Option to have the tab bar displayed on one of the sides of the window or at the bottom. - set to return in an upcoming version.

Opera Mail[edit]

Main article: Opera Mail

In addition to the web browser, the other main component in the desktop versions of the Opera suite is the Opera Mail e-mail client. Opera Mail supports regular POP and SMTP mail as well as IMAP. It also has an Address book. Opera Mail also features a newsreader and a newsfeed reader for RSS and Atom, as well as an IRC client for online chat.

Opera Link[edit]

Since: Opera 9.50, released June 12, 2008.

Opera Link allows users to synchronise their bookmarks, Speed Dial, notes, personal bar,[12] custom search engines, typed history[13] and the content blocker list across multiple computers and mobile devices (such as a copy of Opera Mini running on a mobile phone). Furthermore, the bookmarks, notes, and Speed dial can be accessed through a web interface at https://link.opera.com/.[14]

User's data synchronization support is confirmed to return in an upcoming release.

Customization[edit]

Users have the option of defining the appearance and functionality of every item on the UI with the exception of the minimize, maximize/restore, and exit buttons. Personal preferences for toolbars buttons and menus can be arranged with drag and drop, while access to .ini files allows one to create, define, or redefine buttons, menus tools and functions.

Skins[edit]

Opera supports customized user interface skins, allowing users to change the style and size of toolbars, buttons and menus. A drag and drop functionality allows the user to easily place links and buttons on toolbars. The user is able to install custom skins, ranging from color changes to OS mimics. Opera allows the user to use animated GIF images in custom skins.[15]

Toolbars[edit]

Opera provides toolbars that display different menus and buttons. For example, the "start" toolbar is a drop down toolbar which can be enabled to provide access to history and bookmarks when the user focuses the address field. Additionally a "view" toolbar includes multiple shortcuts to control the page exhibition and a find in page tool, a "navigation" toolbar can show commands to navigate through webpages, etc.

User JavaScript[edit]

Since: Opera 8, released April 19, 2005.

Opera supports User JavaScript extensions. Those scripts execute when pages are loaded and are used to enhance site functionality. UserJS.org was the unofficial central repository for Opera User JavaScripts, but it's currently inactive. Userscripts.org lists scripts designed for the Greasemonkey Firefox extension, but many of them also work with Opera. Users may find useful user scripts shared at Opera's Community forums.

As of the latest version, extensions can make up for the need for UserJS.

Widgets[edit]

Opera Widgets are small standalone applications sitting on the desktop that use the browser's rendering engine. Widgets were phased out starting with Opera 12.[16]

Privacy and security[edit]

Opera can be configured to use proxy servers. It has a built-in cookie editor and web cache viewer. Also, the password manager integrated into the browser let users set a master password to protect against unauthorized tampering or access to stored passwords in the password manager. Users have full control over data supplied to the W3C Geolocation API.

Developer tools[edit]

Main article: Opera Dragonfly

In version 9.5, in 2008, Opera introduced Dragonfly, a debugging tool similar to Firebug and developer tools found in other browsers, that allows debugging of the HTML DOM, Javascript, CSS, and more. A user can set breakpoints and watches, alter scripts on-the-fly, execute statements in the current environment from a console, and audit page resources and local storage. Opera Dragonfly also allows debugging from a personal computer a webpage opened on a handheld or other device. Dragonfly is written using standard web technology and the Scope protocol, and source is available under the Apache License 2.0. Opera Dragonfly is compatible with Opera products using Presto 2.1 and later. The first stable version of Opera Dragonfly was released on 5 May 2011.

Compatibility[edit]

Common compatibility problems are caused by websites not following standards or using methods for detecting the browser being used.

To cope with outdated detection methods or poorly built websites, Opera enables users to change the information that is sent to websites to identify what kind of browser is being used—known as the user-agent. In previous years, Opera came preconfigured to partially "cloak" itself as Internet Explorer, but still included the word "Opera" in the user-agent information allowing the browser to be counted in web browser statistics. As websites modernized themselves and Opera 9 became more compatible with IE code, Opera began to use its own identification by default.

Later versions of Opera offered a limited method of cloaking allowing selection from a pre-defined range of options including Mozilla and Internet Explorer. If needed, Opera can mask completely as Internet Explorer or Mozilla, leaving out the reference to Opera in the UA string and JavaScript objects. Some sites test only for objects that are not present in Opera.

The version 8 of Opera introduced a further provision for dealing with faulty coding, by providing a set of scripts in BrowserJS that rewrites known broken pages as they are being opened. The closely related UserJS (similar to Mozilla's Greasemonkey), allows users to run their own code at various times in the processing of a page. These techniques have allowed many popular but incompatible sites to be used fully with Opera.[17]

Opera periodically updates itself with the latest version of BrowserJS and override_downloaded.ini files to keep more sites working correctly in the browser, respectively, they serve to patch websites which would otherwise have issues to run on Opera and to cloak the UA string by default for some website domains.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://help.opera.com/opera/Windows/1116/en/viewPages.html#zoom Zooming in Opera
  2. ^ http://help.opera.com/opera/Windows/1116/en/save.html#download Download manager in Opera
  3. ^ http://help.opera.com/opera/Windows/1116/en/controlPages.html#manageImages Images management in Opera
  4. ^ Mouse Gestures in Opera
  5. ^ "Is that my blog on your Speed Dial?" (Article for the First Desktop Opera Build to contain Speed Dial Browsing) – Opera Desktop Team
  6. ^ a b "Opera’s company FAQ". Opera Software. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  7. ^ "Opera Turbo". Opera Software. Archived from the original on 30 June 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2010. 
  8. ^ Opera: Opera version history. Opera Software. Accessed September 7, 2009
  9. ^ "The Portable Freeware Collection - Opera". Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  10. ^ Building a better computer mouse, Evan Hansen, October, 2002, retrieved on October 30, 2005
  11. ^ Gjøsund, Alexander. "Opera Turns After Critizism; Brings Back Bookmarks". TechiFreak. Retrieved 11 August 2013. 
  12. ^ Kirk, Jeremy (2008-10-28). "Opera Beta Improves Syncin". PCWorld. Retrieved 2008-09-23. 
  13. ^ "First 9.60 Snapshot!". Archived from the original on 2008-08-25. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  14. ^ Fowler, Dennis (2008-06-18). "Opera 9.5 -- a fine browsing alternative". Computerworld.com. Retrieved 2008-09-23. 
  15. ^ Goldman, Daniel (2007-03-12). "Opera Skins will support animated GIF images". Opera Watch. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  16. ^ Teigene, Arnstein (24 April 2012). "Increased focus on Opera extensions and ending support for Unite applications and Widgets". Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  17. ^ UserJS site