configuring and using opera 8
It's bleeding obvious that I'm a keen Opera user. I've used (and hence installed) many versions since making the full time switch, particularly version 7/8 for PC. I've found there are a few things I always do when setting up Opera out of the box; and thought perhaps these tips might be useful to someone else (especially with so many people downloading it now that it's free). In addition to the configuration tips, I list a few specific features that I think people might like to try out.
Installation is simple... the only gotcha is if you're currently using a beta version, uninstall it before installing the next version. Don't install over the top. Makes sense really since beta software is not final :) Final releases, on the other hand, should update with no problems.
Here's the basic deal: just about everything in Opera is configurable. Don't want Flash turned on? Disable it. Don't like where a toolbar is sitting? Move it. Want another button on your toolbar? Add it. If you really go to town, you can back up your configurations ready to roll on other workstations or when you do a clean system install.
Start Opera and hit F12 or go to [Tools → Quick Preferences]. This menu includes a lot of options you are likely to have Opinions about; and/or want to disable most of the time and just enable when you want them. The options include:
- Popup handling (I recommend 'block unwanted popups')
- In the bottom section please choose Identify as Opera. The more it turns up in server logs, the better. I know there are reasons to ship it identifying as IE6, I just don't agree :)
For many people that's enough, they've got popups blocked and they're ready to roll. For me though, I like to customise things a bit more. I use a web browser probably more than any other tool, after all.
selecting and customising toolbars
As you'd expect, you can choose which toolbars to show, where to show them, icon size and so on. Right-click the toolbar and choose Customise; or go to [Tools → Appearance (or Shift+F12)]. Go into the Toolbars tab and turn each one on and off to familiarise yourself with what's there already. Note the Progress Bar dropdown, which lets you choose where load progress is shown and to what level of detail.
adding and removing buttons
The default set of Address Bar buttons is not entirely to my taste, so I like to customise it. Open up [Tools → Appearance (or Shift+F12)] and go into the Buttons tab. Then you just drag and drop to add buttons to a toolbar, or right-click a button and click Remove From Toolbar to remove it. Some recommended buttons:
- Author Mode under "Browser View" allows you to disable/override CSS with a single click. Alternatively you can find this under [View → Style → Author Mode]
- There are optional Forward/Back buttons with a history dropdown (not sure why they aren't the default).
- The Home button (and other options like Bookmarks) is available by clicking the location bar, however I use it a fair bit so I add it to the standard set to eliminate a click.
- Find in page under "Search" is your usual page text search (enter your query and hit Enter to cycle through hits).
- Fit to window width ...you can probably guess. Get rid of horizontal scrollbars!
You can also create your own buttons/bookmarklets.
Skins are one of those things that some people can't live without, others don't care one bit. If you are into skins, the Skins tab has what you need [Tools → Appearance (or Shift+F12)].
Personally I got bored with skins a couple of years ago when they stopped being creative and functional. Somewhere along the line most skin galleries ended up being a parade of "make X look like Y". Most commonly: Make PC Apps Look Like Mac Apps (make everything round) or vice versa.
miscellaneous opera tips
- Mouse Gestures are awesome. See http://www.opera.com/features/mouse/ ...when I'm testing in other browsers I always end up wondering why the gesture for "Back" didn't work...
- Opera has an inbuilt RSS/feed reader (not to mention email and chat). The RSS icon will appear in the location bar for pages with associated feeds. Just click to subscribe.
- [Tools → Preferences → Advanced → Search (or Ctrl+F12)] lists preset address bar searches and their "keywords" ("key character" would have been a better term). For example, enter "g searchterm" into the URL input and you'll be taken to a Google search for searchterm. Originally I was unconvinced about this feature, but actually it's an incredible time saver (and for some reason I find it easier than adding separate search inputs).
- Right-click a page and hit "Validate" to send the source the W3C markup validation page.
- [Right-click → View Source] or [Right-click → Frame → View Source] will open the current page source in your choice of editor. You can change and save that source file, then use [Tools → Advanced → Reload from cache] to view the modified file. This means you can try code fixes without modifying the original. When you find the solution that works, edit the original. You can also work on generated markup this way.
- There is a voice module that lets you control Opera with vocal commands and/or have content read to you screen reader style. See http://opera.com/voice/ for details about installing this extension.
- Opera zooms the whole page, not just the text. I prefer this, since it means most pages will put up with more zooming before they turn into a busted mess. Standards compliant pages just keep on going...
- Opera can be set to remember your session, so you can come in tomorrow and pick up where you left off. [Preferences → General]
- The Wand is a password manager like the Firefox Password Manager or Mac keychain. If you're into that sort of thing.
more opera resources
- I've already discussed developer resources, so I won't duplicate them. See: opera development resources & the 'open the web' project
- Opera tutorials (aimed primarily at transitioning users):
- Opera community: http://my.opera.com/community/ - includes highly active forums, with highly active participation from Opera staff as well as users.
go to it!
Head on over and download Opera. I hope you like it as much as I do and I hope this article helps you find some of Opera's niftiest features.