The case for Opera as your primary Web Browser

The case for Opera as your primary Web Browser

Chrome, Firefox, Safari the big players in the Web Browser market with some quite large market shares

Browser Percentage Marktshare worldwide
Chrome 65.25%
Safari 18.35%
Edge 3.39%
Firefox 3.29%
Samsung  3.18%
Opera 2.2%

June 2021

Browser Market Share Worldwide | StatCounter Global Stats
This graph shows the market share of browsers worldwide based on over 10 billion monthly page views.

With a huge 65+% Market share Chrome owns the browser market, and for most users, it is the defacto goto browser and the only reason for some Edge/Internet explorer ever gets used is to download Chrome.

As a huge proponent of the Chromebook, I use Chrome as my default browser on Macbooks, Chromebooks, Phones and TV..  However, I've also got a soft spot for Chrome.

Recently the team behind Opera built an android version that was  optimised for the Chromebook and having given it a go I moved over to Opera on all my desktops.

VPN

The company behind Opera bought Surf easy a few years back, and have integrate the VPN functionality right into the browser. From what I've read this VPN is actually closer to a TLS1.3 based Proxy server.

VPN or browser it is nice to see more strength in depth added to the application. It's pretty quick as VPN's go as well.

Remember a VPN alone is only part of a good secure browsing setup and on its own has limited protection.

Download and install Opera VPN.

Once the software is installed, you must enable the VPN feature by going to Menu -> Privacy & security -> VPN -> Enable VPN. Note that I had an old version of Opera installed, and needed to uninstall it and reinstall the latest version in order for this option to become available.

Using the VPN is then just a matter of clicking on the “VPN” label to the left of the Search/URL bar, selecting a server location, and clicking “On”

Flow

Flow is instant messaging between Opera Browsers. If you have one device running Opera it's not going to be that useful for you, I run Opera on my MBP, Chromebooks and Mobile and find it hugely valuable as a reminder tool which i can share links or text to flow and those links or text snippets appear on Flow on the other Opera browsers I'm logged into.

It works with logged on accounts and uses a QR code to link the flow feature with the other browsers.

This is such a little feature that makes a HUGE impact once you start using it.

There is a sidebar available when you open Opera

I love this, out of the box it has messaging services like Telegram, Facebook messenger or WhatsApp available (all of which can be removed if you're not using them in settings)

There are a lot of sidebar extensions available on the Opera site as well

Opera add-ons
Add functionality to Opera, or give it a new look

As an example as a user of YouTube Music I love the Sidebar extention for this

There is a lot that can be done with the sidebar which in turn can give you back a little horizontal space.

Virtual Workspaces

Having a multitude of tabs open is bad enough, mixing them up between Personal, work, research etc just makes finding the tabs hard.

Opera has Workspaces to get around this. Open tabs in one workspace and they won't be visible in the other workspaces.

I've set up 3 workspaces in Opera Home, Work and Research

Ensuring that I'm able to separate my work/life browsing and had back to the right Workspace come 9 am Monday morning.

Battery Saver

Again built into the browser is a "battery saver" by reducing the amount of CPU Used when browsing on battery this feature does make a difference. While opera claims its 34% more battery I'm not sure it's that much however it does make a difference. If you've got a high powered modern PC then this might not be of use to you. However, if you're running on ageing hardware this will make a difference.

But other Browsers can do this..

Sure, you can probably do this in Firefox or Chrome, however not without a lot of tweaking. What I like about Opera is its baked these features into the browser and has none done without needing to make the browser feel like glue when you are using it.

Thoughts

As I said, I've got a soft spot for Opera, I love it as a browser, it's always been fast, it has the extensions I need and I do like the built-in sidebar stuff.


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