Opera has always been the underdog in the browser market, with browsers like Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, Firefox or Chrome dominating it. While the browser's market share is low in comparison, it is still an impressive feat for a small company like Opera Software.
The Opera browser is known for its innovations, and while not all of them take off, there are examples where features introduced in Opera have found their way - rather quickly - into other web browsers.
The following list looks at some of the features that Opera supports natively that other browsers either do not support at all, or only with the help of browser add-ons.
1. Tab Stacks
The majority of modern desktop browsers display websites in tabs that users can switch to. The issue that arises with tabs is that only that many can be displayed at the same time in the browser. Once the limit is exceeded, it is necessary to scroll, or use another method of navigating to tabs in the browser.
Opera recently has introduced a tab stacking feature, which allows you to stack tabs so that they take up less space in the browser. You see a preview of all tabs when you move the mouse cursor over the tab, and can expand and collapse the tab stack at any time.
2. Your own keyboard shortcuts
You can create your own keyboard setup quite easily in Opera. For that, click on the Opera button in the top left corner of the screen, and then Settings > Preferences. Click on the Advanced tab in the new window, and there on Shortcuts. A click on the edit button next to Keyboard setup opens the configuration menu that you see above.
3. IRC Chat
Opera has an IRC client built right into the browser that you can use to connect to various IRC servers. You need to configure the feature before you can use it by clicking the Opera button, then Mail and Chat accounts. Here you can create - among other things - IRC accounts to connect to IRC networks.
4. Opera Mail
While there are some browsers that have a mail client integrated as well, Opera is the only browser with a considerably market share that does. Neither Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Firefox offer this. You can integrate Pop3 and IMAP mail accounts into Opera, and access mail right from within Opera.
5. Opera Turbo
Have a slow Internet connection or an Internet provider that is keeping you on a tight leash bandwidth-wise? Then Opera Turbo may help you use the web faster. The system basically routes traffic through Opera's server first, where contents are compressed, and then send to the Opera browser on the local system. This can save a lot of bandwidth in the long run, or in situations where bandwidth is limited.
Opera ships with a note taking app that you can use to save notes directly in the browser. You can add as many notes as you want, use the search feature to find specific notes and thrash them again. Only textual notes are supported though.
7. Dynamic Speed Dial pages
Most web browsers who use a speed dial like interface for the new tab page display static contents there. Once opened, contents remain as they are until the page is reloaded or opened anew. In Opera, users can install Speed Dial extensions which add dynamic information to the page, from the current time and weather information to stock quotes and your next Google Calendar events.
8. Reload Every
Sometimes you may want to reload a page until the information on it change. This may be on eBay while waiting for an auction to end, or a forum post that you are dying to get a response for. In Opera, right-click on the page and use the Reload Every menu item to have the browser reload the page automatically for you in the selected interval.
9. Open With
A page is not working or displaying properly in the Opera web browser? Then use the browser's Open With functionality to open it in another browser that you have installed on the system.
10. Download torrents
Opera comes with a built-in client to download files via Bittorrent. This works best if you do not have another program associated with the magnet links or torrent files. If you are using a different client normally, you can still drag and drop torrents into Opera to have the browser download them for you. Or, you can associate Opera with the relevant file types to do this automatically from that point onwards.
I would have added Opera Unite and Opera Widgets in the list, but both will be discontinued in future versions of the browser.
Is there another Opera feature that is unique to the browser? Lets discuss in the comments below.
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