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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What I actually like about Opera

I talk about Opera a lot - raving about its performance and handling (makes it sound like a car!) - but I've never been specific about what I actually like about it. Here's a rundown.

*Looks good out-of-the-box. Firefox's Winstripe is ugly, although it's getting a make-over in version 2.0 to make it look a bit less mid-90s.
*It handles tabs well out of the box. New tabs open next to the current tab. It never opens more than one window.
*Close button on tabs - just seems more natural, and I can close tabs without having to select them.
*Duplicate tabs: I can right-click on a tab and chose to have it "duplicated" into a new tab next to the current one. This includes the full backwards/forwards history for that tab. This is great for when I want to "come back for something later".
*The link context menu: If I right-click a link, I can chose to open it in a new tab, or a background tab (for later reading).
*Context menu in frames: If I'm browsing a frame-based website, I can right-click and open the current frame by itself.
*Go-to-URL: I can select any web text web address in a page (e.g. "as seen on volvocars.com"), right-click and chose to go straight to that URL. (Opera also converts full URLs - i.e. http://... - into links).
*Select-and-search: I select some text, right-click and then search for it. In addition, I can chose which search engine to use (e.g. Amazon, IMDB, Wikipedia) from a pop-out list from the context menu.
*Opera remembers what websites I was viewing between shutdowns. I can also save specific "sessions".
*Quick-preferences: These live under Tools->Quick preferences, and allow me to do turn on and off sound, animated GIFs, Flash etc. as and when I need to.
*Zoom: I can enlarge (or shrink) websites as I need to, by percentage. The layout remains the same - it's just like enlarging an image.
*Never crashes, never slows the system down.

Some (but by no means all) of the above functionality can be added to Firefox via Extensions. However I have no wish to trawl through the hundres of available extensions to find the ones I need, nor set their own individual options, nor keep them up-to-date. I'm much happier having it all intergrated directly into the browser. Other things, such as the better performance, can't be added.

If you haven't tried Opera 9, do!

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