By Mohammad Yousef | May 2006
15) Internet browsing and more: Opera is more than just a browser. It also includes a mail and chat client that supports POP3, IMAP, SMTP, RSS, Atom and NNTP. Not only is Opera Mail one of the best clients I’ve seen, but it keeps getting better as you become used to it and learn about its features. And although I found it quite easy to use, you can take a look at the Opera Mail Tutorial to get started.
14) Customize appearance: Opera’s interface can be customized in detail till you’re satisfied with the way it looks. Click Tools > Appearance. The first tab allows you to choose from the skins you’ve got installed and download more from their website. From the second and third tabs, you can select the toolbars and panels to be shown. The fourth tab contains buttons which can be dragged and dropped onto toolbars so you can quickly access frequently used functions. On the other hand, unnecessary buttons can be removed by right-clicking over button > Remove from toolbar.
13) The Wand: The Wand is Opera’s password manager. It remembers your usernames, passwords and other personal information so that they’re automatically entered next time you are asked to type them in.
12) Get rid of pop-up windows for good: Even with the best blockers installed, some pop-up windows will still manage to pass through. A common technique, used by aggressive advertisers, is triggering pop-ups by user actions such as clicking on a text box or simply moving the mouse over a certain area. Opera offers an extreme, yet effective solution which is to block all pop-ups with no exceptions. Click Tools > Quick preferences > Block all pop-ups. To allow a pop-up, you can simply click on the notification box that appears whenever a pop-up is blocked.
11) Tools for web developers: Apart from being a great browser for regular users, Opera offers tools which might appeal to web developers. Web pages can be validated quickly by right-click > Validate. Opera can also show you what a page looks like in older browsers, small screens and several other modes. These can be accessed through View > Styles and View > Small screen.
10) Fit pages to window width: Are you annoyed by websites with wide pages? Whether the site was built for high screen resolutions or just poorly designed, Opera’s Fit-to-window feature can take care of that horizontal scrollbar. View > Fit to window width or press Control+F11.
9) Spatial navigation: Using the Shift and arrow keys you can move around a web page to quickly access links, text boxes and buttons.
8) Take notes: We always come across important or interesting information on the web and it might be a hassle to keep copying them into documents or saving entire web pages. Opera Notes solves this problem by putting a virtual scratchpad right next to your browser. Learn more about using Opera Notes.
7) Put on a mask: Some webmasters aren’t catching up with the continuously evolving browsers, and their websites, unfortunately, may refuse to function in any browser other than Internet Explorer. So, if you ever receive an error like “Browser not supported”, go to Tools > Quick preferences > Identify as Internet Explorer or Identify as Mozilla.
6) Minimize Opera to system tray: At times, I wish this feature was built-in to Windows, so I could easily minimize any window to the system tray. With Opera, this can be simply done by pressing Control+H.
5) Save several web pages: Do you find yourself visiting a bunch of websites at a certain time everyday? Your favourite news sites, every morning, for instance. I’m not talking about the lame “Add to favorites” if that’s what you’re thinking because Opera has come up with something way better: Sessions! To save your browsing session, click File > Sessions > Save this session… Then you’re told to name the session and if you want, set it as Opera’s starting session to load every time the browser is launched. Saved sessions can be accessed any time from File > Sessions. This feature also helps when your browsing is interrupted; just save all your work as a session and you can resume later on.
4) Expand and move cache to another drive: If you browse through a lot of sites, the cache (a.k.a. Temporary Internet Files) needs to be cleared regularly either manually or by limiting its size, unless you have a lot of disk space to spare. However, clearing the cache slows up browsing speed significantly, especially if you have a slow connection. Moving the cache folder to a different drive, allows you to keep a large cache without wasting space on your main drive. First, expand the folder size by going to Tools > Preferences > Advanced > History and increase Disk cache to 200MB or max out and click OK.
Click Help > About Opera to find the path of your opera6.ini file, then open it. Under [User Prefs], add Cache Directory4= in a new line followed by the new path (e.g. Cache Directory4=E:\Temp).
3) Dump the mouse: Are you into keyboard shortcuts so much that you can’t get enough of them? Opera’s website has got a thorough list of them allowing you to take full control of the browser without having to reach out for the mouse constantly.
2) Tweak hidden settings: Opera6.ini (the Configuration Settings file), which I’ve already mentioned in Tip #4, is where Opera stores your preferences. Through editing Opera6.ini, you can modify hidden settings that can’t be accessed from Opera’s interface. This document contains all the values which can be adjusted this way.
And it keeps getting better: These tips apply to Opera 8.5 - the latest stable version at the time of writing this article. But it’s worth mentioning that the next major update of Opera (version 9) will come with several more features to look forward to, mainly built-in BitTorrent support. Other features include widgets, content blocking, and rich text editing to name a few.