The free web browser opera is a popular alternative to browsers like Firefox or Google Chrome. Opera supports common features such as bookmarks and tabs and can be extended to include additional features. Opera also offers a VPN functionwhich allows you to surf encrypted and anonymously. Opera uses the Chromium project’s rendering engine to display web pages and thus displays them as fast as the Google Chrome browser.
Opera can be operated with the help of mouse gestures and includes a download manager that takes care of downloading files from the Internet. An individually extensible speed dial makes the call of websites comfortable. The search field integrates Opera in the address bar and includes suggestions from the browser history, Google and Wikipedia in the Autocomplete function. If you don’t have your own favorite search engine, you can add it.
Opera shows important areas in the sidebar on the left side. If you are missing something here, just move the mouse pointer to a free place in the sidebar and press the right mouse button. A menu opens in which you can click on further areas that should appear in the sidebar. For example, you can add settings and extensions. The latter are similar to Google Chrome, since both browsers are based on Chromium.
Not everything you need for surfing is activated right from the start with Opera. That’s why it’s worth taking a look at the settings and extensions. Opera comes with an adblocker that blocks ads after they have been activated. You can also specify the location of the downloads in the software. Under Privacy & Security you can switch on the VPN function and also the automatic filling out of forms. In addition, under Privacy there is the possibility of deleting the browser data, which is useful to remove cookies and other surf traces. If you don’t know exactly what to click and how, you can find more information about the link of the same name, which unfortunately is not always in German.
The rendering engine Blink contained in Chromium runs in the background of Opera and together with Opera Turbo is supposed to ensure high surfing speed. If the turbo mode is switched on in the settings, Internet pages are redirected via an Opera server, which reduces the amount of data and thus enables faster opening of the pages. Encrypted HTTPS connections are excluded from this function. The Turbo mode can be found in the settings under the Browser item at the bottom of the page, if the check mark in the advanced settings is set.
The Opera browser increases security with features for anonymity and protection against online threats. Private surfing is possible in a separate private window, which deletes the entire browser history and any personal data sent after closing. In addition, there is a built-in anti-fraud feature that is activated as soon as a website under suspicion of phishing or malware is opened.
The VPN client integrated in Opera, which hides one’s own IP address, should be interesting for users. However, the server selection in the software has changed: In earlier versions it was possible to select a specific country for the server location, but with version 51 only regions such as Europe and North and South America are possible. In addition to anonymity, secure surfing via VPN is possible via unencrypted, public WLAN hotspots. With VPN, the connection from the device to the VPN server of the VPN provider is encrypted. Only from there will it continue unencrypted on the Internet, if necessary. Therefore a secure HTTPS connection is always recommended when surfing via VPN if you want to log in to a web service.
► Opera Browser: What can the integrated VPN do?
Important events in Opera history
Opera has been developed for many years in which the developers have extended or changed the browser. For example, the Opera Mail mail client integrated in the browser up to version 12 was removed from Opera 15 and is now available separately. In addition, the Presto rendering engine used up to version 12 has been replaced by Blink in version 15, which allows faster surfing. However, with version 15 many popular functions like the bookmarks, which existed up to version 12, were omitted, so that version 12 was maintained for some time parallel to the newer Opera versions.
In the following version 16 Opera got an improved HTML5 support as well as an automatic filling function for forms. On Macs, presentations can now be shown in full screen and for Windows, faster navigation lists (“jump lists”) have been added.
With version 20, the speed dial buttons can be rearranged individually and dragged into the bookmark bar. In addition, the size of the speed-dial tiles can be changed.
An integrated adblocker has been available since Opera 37. Via an icon in the address bar, the opened page can be entered as an exception and a statistic of the blockades can be viewed. The subsequent version 38 brings the integrated VPN into the browser, which hides the user’s own IP address and enables more secure surfing via public, unencrypted WLAN hotspots.
An improvement for the video popout feature was introduced in version 39, which allows videos from well-known portals to be copied into a freely movable mini-window that can be placed next to the browser and thus remains visible when changing tabs. Since version 35 it is possible to mute the video sound for individual tabs so that the sound reproduced from other tabs does not interfere with the video sound.
Opera wins the race against Firefox after the update to version 51 against the Mozilla-Bowser version 58. With the benchmark Speedometer 2.0 Opera is 38% faster.
Opera browser for mobile devices
Opera can be downloaded not only as a version for the desktop computer, but also in different app versions for mobile devices. For the iPhone and iPad there is the mobile browser Opera Coast and its colleagues the Opera browser for Android. Opera offers the Opera Touch browser for both mobile platforms, which is supposed to be a mobile addition to the home browser on the desktop computer and can connect to it. Opera Touch has a special design for mobile use and also searches the Internet independently.
Opera also offers the mobile browser Opera Mini for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, which reduces the data volume when surfing. This is done by compressing the pages on an Opera server and then forwarding them to the mobile device.