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Opera Web Browser Tips

This page contains some handy tips for the Opera web browser, which is just about my favorite web browser.

These tips are for version 9.21, which isn't the newest version.
I assume these tips should probably mostly work with other versions as well, however.


Keyboard commands are formatted like this.
Menus, buttons, other things you can click with a mouse are formatted like this.
Window titles and other things you don't have to click are formatted like this.

Keyboard commands where you need to press two keys at the same time -
(for instance, pressing the Ctrl key and the z key at the same time to perform the Undo command)
- are abbreviated like this: Ctrl+z






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The Opera Config page

You can reach a wonderful page where you can configure tons of settings in the Opera web browser simply by going to the address opera:config. You can copy and paste that into your Opera address bar and go there, or you can just click that link, if you're using Opera right now. (If you're using some other browser, it won't go anywhere).

I wouldn't recommend changing the settings without knowing what you're doing. Fortunately, there's a small link titled Help at the top of that page.


List of All Internal Action Commands

Here's a link to site with a list of all internal action commands in Opera. This will come in handy if you're trying to create custom mouse gestures, and other things as well: http://nontroppo.org/wiki/AllActions

Quoted from that page: "Opera's internal actions are used to create CustomButtons, define the keyboard shortcuts, define mouse gestures and create all menus."



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Some useful keyboard and mouse shortcuts - and browsing the web mouse-free

If you want a full list of keyboard shortcuts, you should go look at the official Keyboard Shortcuts in Opera page.

Here, though, I'm just going to outline my favorite ones, the ones I find most useful.

Among other things, this section will tell you all you need to know to browse the web with Opera mouse-free. With Opera, you actually don't even have to use a mouse at all to browse the web. Hallelujah!


Downloads

To open your Transfer page (which is a page listing ongoing and completed downloads), press Ctrl+Alt+T. (Or go to the Tools menu and select Transfers).


Find

Ctrl+F will bring up the Find window. After you type in the text you want to find, happily, you can avoid having to use the mouse to click the Find next button. Just press Tab once (which will shift the computer's focus onto the Find next button). Then, press Enter on the keyboard, which will press the button.

You can just keep pressing Enter to have it find each instance of the text you're searching for. Or, alternatively, you can use Ctrl+G, but only after you've pressed the button at least once (with or without the mouse).

To close the Find window without using the mouse, there are two ways I know of. The short way is to press Esc on the keyboard. The long way is to press Tab a few times until the Close button has focus, and then press Enter on the keyboard, which will press the button.


This next feature is a little tricky. If you press , (comma) on the keyboard, a little box will pop up at the lower left that says Finding links:. You might not realize it, but this is actually a text prompt - this box is waiting for you to type some text, and when you do, Opera will proceed to search for that text, limiting its search to text found in links on that page.

The next tricky thing you may not realize about this feature is that, in order to zip to the next link which contains the text you're searching for, and not just be stuck on the first one Opera finds, you have to press Ctrl+G on the keyboard.



With either the regular Find or the "comma" Find-within-links feature, you can search backwards by pressing Ctrl+Shift+G.


Full-screen and Zoom (Magnification)

To enter full-screen mode, press F11 on the keyboard. More information on full-screen mode is available in the Full-screen mode section.

To magnify or shrink the page you're looking at, hold Ctrl on the keyboard and move the mouse wheel.

Or, press + or 0 (that's zero) on the keyboard to increase the zoom by 10%, or - or 9 on the keyboard to shrink the zoom by 10%.

To restore the zoom to normal size, press 6 on the keyboard.

More comments and tips on zoom are available in the Zoom (Magnification) section.


History

To open your web browser history, press Ctrl+Alt+H. This feature can also be accessed by going to the Tools menu and selecting History.

If you are fond of Internet Explorer 6, you might miss being able to right-click on the back button and get a list of the pages you've recently visited.

Fortunately, though, there's a substitute in Opera for this feature - press Alt+Z to see your entire backward history for the tab you're on. You can also press Alt+X to see the entire forward history of the tab you're on.

To navigate the list, you don't have to use your mouse - you can use the arrow keys on the keyboard, and press Enter to go to whatever page you have highlighted.


Navigation

Using keyboard keys can be faster than using either the mouse wheel or the scroll bar to scroll up and down a page.

You can use PageUp to scroll up a screenful of text, and PageDown or Space to scroll down a screenful of text.

Home will put you at the top of the page, End at the bottom.

If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to sidescroll, Ctrl+PageUp will sidescroll left, and Ctrl+PageDown will sidescroll right.


You can skip around from link to link on the page by holding Shift and then pressing any of the four arrow keys.

If, in the process of doing this, you jump to a section of the page which has no links on it, then Shift+Up starts acting like PageUp and Shift+Down starts acting like PageDown.

To activate a highlighted link, press Enter on the keyboard - and if you want it opened in a new tab, press Shift+Enter.


Pressing Z will move you backward one step in your current tab's history, and pressing X will move you forward one step.

Pressing Tab on the keyboard will put the focus on any text fields or buttons on the page. You can press buttons by pressing Enter on the keyboard.


Reload

Just like Internet Explorer 6, you can press F5 to reload the current page you're looking at. With Opera, you might find you actually have to reload pages sometimes to get the most up-to-date version, because Opera seems to prefer to look at the cached version of recently-viewed pages rather than downloading a new copy, unless you reload the page.


Tabs

To open a new tab, press Ctrl+T.

To cycle between tabs, press either Ctrl+Tab or Alt+PageDown. Unfortunately, this feature is not as intuitive as it could be - instead of simply zipping to the next tab, it makes you select which tab to go to from a list.

There ought to be keyboard shortcuts for "next tab" and "previous tab" respectively, but apparently, there aren't.



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Opening things in background tabs

You can open a link in a background tab you can look at later, instead of a new tab that the browser sends to look at right away, by putting your cursor on that link and cilcking the middle mouse button. (Or by clicking the mouse wheel, if your mouse doesn't have a middle button, and you have a clickable mouse wheel).

This is, I believe, the default setting for what your middle mouse click does. If the above doesn't work, though, see the section titled Changing what the middle mouse button click, or mouse wheel click, does.



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Mouse Gestures

Mouse gestures make it so when you click and/or hold a mouse button, and move the mouse in a certain direction, it tells Opera to do something, such as open the link you're right-clicking on in a new tab, or something.

Mouse gestures can do tons of different things, though. The section titled List of All Internal Commands provides a link to a full list. (Also, Opera itself will show you a list of internal commands if you type something in the text field for Actions while you're trying to add custom mouse gestures.)

Mouse gestures can either be useful or a damned annoying nuisance, depending on how you have them set up.

I think the default way mouse gestures are set up qualifies as a damned annoying nuisance, given the fact that by default, GestureDown (right click+downward motion) causes Opera to open a link in a new tab, and the very similar GestureDown+GestureRight (right click+downward motion+rightward motion), which is all too easy to accidentally do instead, causes Opera to close your current tab.

Even this alone can make Opera a tedious chore to use if you don't know how to fix it (and you happen to do a lot of right-clicking in the course of your typical web browsing).

So, if you haven't yet done anything to configure mouse gestures, you probably should. That way, you won't have to go through the confusion of weird, unexpected things happening when all you did was right-click and idly happened to move the mouse in a certain direction.

In my own case, the only mouse gesture I keep available is GestureDown (right click+downward motion) making a link open in a new tab. There are probably some useful mouse gestures I could add besides that, but for now, I prefer to just keep things nice and simple.


How to turn off mouse gestures, or customize them

The following should work in Opera/9.21 (Windows NT 5.1; U; en), which is what I'm currently using, or Opera/9.01 (Windows NT 5.1; U; en).

Go to the Tools menu and select the Preferences menu item. (Or, instead of using the menu, you can use a keyboard shortcut - press Ctrl+F12).

Then, in the Preferences window that pops up, click the Advanced tab, and in the list that will appear at the left side of the window, highlight Shortcuts (it's the second item from the bottom).

Around the top of the window should appear a checkbox which says Enable mouse gestures. To get rid of mouse gestures, you'll want to uncheck that.

There's a screenshot of what window and checkbox I mean right at the top of this little guide to modifying mouse gestures: How to add/edit mouse gestures in Opera? from the Opera FAQ's, Tips, Tricks & Tweaks blog.

If, instead of turning off mouse gestures altogether, you want to merely customize your mouse gestures and get rid of annoying ones, that guide will likely be helpful.


How to get rid of annoying mouse gestures without turning off mouse gestures entirely

Here's a brief description of how to get rid of a lot of annoying mouse gestures without turning off mouse gestures completely.

Go to the Tools menu and select the Preferences menu item. (Or, instead of using the menu, you can use a keyboard shortcut - press Ctrl+F12).

Then, in the Preferences window that pops up, click the Advanced tab, and in the list that will appear at the left side of the window, highlight Shortcuts (it's the second item from the bottom).

Highlight Opera Standard and press the Duplicate button. Highlight the new set of settings that just appeared, Copy of Opera Standard, click the Rename button, and rename the settings to something like "My preferences" (or whatever else you want to call it).

Then, whilst highlighting the settings you renamed, press the Edit button. In the list that appears, press Applications, which will make a list of all kinds of annoying mouse gestures come up.

Highlight whichever ones you don't want, and click the Delete button. After you're finished, press OK to leave the Edit mouse setup window, and then press OK again in the Preferences window to save your settings.



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Customizing your toolbars

In case you don't know what the term "toolbars" refers to - the toolbars those are the parts of your browser which contain things like the address bar, back and forward buttons, and so forth.

Go to the View menu, go to the Toolbars menu item to open a submenu, and from that submenu, select Customize...

This will cause a window with the heading Appearance to pop up. Near the top you'll see 4 tabs, and by default you'll find yourself in the Toolbar tab.

Here at the Toolbar tab, you can pick and choose amongst the toolbars you want to have available by checking and unchecking checkboxes.

To add buttons, click the Buttons tab, then highlight whatever category you want from the Category list at the left.

The way you add these buttons to your toolbars is to simply click and drag a button (or whatever) onto the toolbar of your choice in the main web browser window. Surprisingly intuitive, huh? When you're finished getting things set up the way you like it, press OK.

You can set things up any way you want - it's all up to you. There's no "right" or "wrong" way to do it, but it's certainly possible to make things needlessly messy and confusing - or even, bereft of standard, practically essential features.


Here's my set-up. I like to have only three toolbars showing, so as much of the screen as possible is devoted to the page I'm looking at and not my browser.

If it were possible, I'd love to have the menu bar and the main bar combined into one line (as I do in Internet Explorer 6), but I don't know of a way that can be done.



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Zoom (Magnification)

Zoom is a wonderful feature of Opera, and invaluable in a world full of idiots who code the CSS on their web pages in such a way as to make the text on the page impossible to magnify in some web browsers.

The way I usually access it is by pressing Ctrl on the keyboard, and then moving the mouse wheel. Moving the mouse wheel forward magnifies everything, and moving it backward shrinks everything.

Zoom makes it so I can comfortably read any page I come across. I also often find that this is my most convenient way of getting a really, really close look at a small image. I don't think I even have any programs on my computer that will allow me to magnify images as much as Opera does, with such ease.

When you run across videos that you can't magnify or which have no full-screen mode, you can magnify them using Opera's zoom, and if you want, even put Opera into its own full-screen mode by pressing F11, and make a video that you'd otherwise have to watch in some annoyingly small size and surrounded by clutter, large, without as much (or any) junk around it. More details on this are in the Watching videos in Opera section below.

On poorly-designed web pages which have long, annoying sidebars or columns of wasted, empty whitespace, I can zoom in on the column of the text of actual substance and have it fill the screen.


If you want to have pages display in larger than 100% zoom by default, go to the Tools menu and select the Preferences menu item. (Or, instead of using the menu, you can use a keyboard shortcut - press Ctrl+F12).

Then, in the Preferences window that pops up, click the Web pages tab. The setting you'll want to change is near the top, across from the text Page zoom:.

The Fit to width checkbox, when checked, will make it so even if you select an insanely high zoom, a sidescroll bar will never appear at the bottom of the screen. I prefer to leave it unchecked, though, because I prefer to have zoom only magnify and shrink the page, without distorting its layout.


The Firefox web browser has a zoom feature as well, but it seems rather fussy, sometimes getting stuck for me, and it seems like it takes more time and work spinning the mouse wheel to make it magnify and shrink things. Opera's zoom feature, however, is a pleasure to use - it's invariably smooth, and it never gets stuck.

It's most convenient to access Opera's Zoom features via the keyboard/mouse shortcuts detailed above, but it's also possible to access them via the View menu.



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Full-screen mode

Full-screen mode is a very nice feature that makes it so the web page you're browsing fills your entire screen, without being surrounded by any web browser clutter such as toolbars, menus, or even scrollbars at the edge, etc.

Happily, entering and exiting full-screen mode is extremely easy. All you have to do is press F11 on the keyboard.

To scroll up and down the page, you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard, or the mouse wheel on your mouse (assuming you have a mouse wheel).

Full-screen mode is wonderful for watching YouTube or Google Video videos. See the section titled Watching videos in Opera for some tips.


How to hide your Windows taskbar

The Windows taskbar is that thing that most Windows users have at the bottom of the screen which features such things as the time of day, the Start menu, and the various windows you have open.

Sometimes, you might find your Windows taskbar annoyingly popping up every so often while you're in Opera's full-screen mode. It happens to me for no apparent reason while I'm trying to watch things on YouTube. Fortunately, though, you can hide it in a couple of ways.

If your Windows taskbar is not locked, then, you can move your cursor to the very edge of it until some up-and-down arrows appear. Then, click, hold, and drag downward, which will hide the taskbar.

If those arrows don't appear, then, your Windows taskbar is locked. To unlock it, right-click the time of day, and select Properties from the menu that pops up. This will cause the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window to appear. Under the Taskbar tab, you'll see a number of checkboxes. Uncheck the box next to Lock the taskbar, and click OK. Now, you'll be able to hide the taskbar using the method described above.

To unhide the taskbar, click the little edge that is still visible at the very bottom of the screen, hold, and drag upward, but don't drag it so far that you stretch the taskbar, or put it on some other edge of the screen (two of the annoying reasons why some people choose to lock their taskbar). Of course, if that happens, you can always use the same method to resize the taskbar to its correct size, or drag it back into place.


An alternative method of hiding the toolbar is to right-click the time of day, select Properties from the menu that pops up, and then check the box next to Auto-hide the taskbar, and click OK.

Once this is done, the taskbar will automatically hide itself completely, except when your cursor is near the bottom of the screen. Happily, there's no need to unlock the taskbar for this to work.

One thing that annoys me about this, though, is the fact that, at least on my computer, the taskbar doesn't pop up and disappear utterly instantly - instead, there's sometimes a short delay.


Watching videos in Opera

If you're on a page with a video that apparently has no full-screen feature, you can make it bigger simply by using Opera's Zoom (magnification) features described above.


Happily, YouTube videos and Google Video videos all have full-screen features, so that means you won't have to zoom in on them or mess with scrolling around at all. You can access full-screen mode by clicking a a certain at the lower right of the video player.

(By the way, this parenthetical comment has nothing to do with the instructions, but I just thought I'd mention that, even though I have to admit Google Video is cool, I still think some of the things Google does are really disgusting, like kicking innocent webmasters out of the AdSense program - which is why I won't even attempt to host Google Ads, for fear that I'll be kicked out and blacklisted, and also to make the point that Google can't get away with treating people like crap. So, just so you don't get the wrong idea about my opinion of Google, here's a link to a blog post from ArtOfMoney.org called 7 Ways Google Could Ruin Your Life).


Unfortunately, I don't know of a way to hide the small line of video controls at the bottom of the screen. The only video service I'm aware of which has the wit not to make the full-screen video controls an annoyingly bright color is Yahoo! Video - so if you want to watch videos which don't have that annoyance, go there.

If the sight of your Windows taskbar annoys you, though, that can be taken care of. See the section titled How to hide your Windows taskbar.

One glitch you might run into is, if you happened to click on the video while you were watching it in Opera's full-screen mode, pressing F11 might not work to get you out of Opera's full-screen mode.

Fortunately, the Esc key should always get you out of full-screen mode. Another way to get out is to click the small box at the lower right to the right of the volume - which, on YouTube, contains X in it, and on Google Video contains box with little triangles pointing at it.


Lastly, here's are a couple useful tips that actually don't have anything to do with Opera specifically, but they're so great I just had to mention them here.

1. On YouTube, you can access the high-quality stereo versions of videos by placing the text &fmt=18 at the end of any YouTube video URL. This is useful because in my experience, the link to high-quality videos never appears in Opera, and even if I click the link in Firefox, the video still isn't made stereo. This tip makes it a lot more fun to watch any YouTube video with stereo music.


2. There's a way to create links that will cause a Google Video to start at exactly the hour, minute and second you want it to. All you have to do is add what is called a "fragment" or "named anchor" to the end of a Google Video URL, in the following format:

#00h01m33s

Adding the above to the end of a Google Video URL will start any Google Video at 0 hours, 1 minute, and 33 seconds (assuming the video is at least that long).

Here's an example, with the named anchor highlighted in orange:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1656880303867390173#00h01m33s

Clickable version of that URL: America: Freedom to Fascism started at 1 minute, 33 seconds.

I learned that trick here: Talk like a Googler: parts of a url



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Subscribing to RSS Feeds

If you have any favorite blogs you read, chances are good that there's an RSS feed for it. This means you can easily set Opera up to periodically check for updates to that blog, and download all the new posts.

Other things which aren't exactly blogs have RSS feeds too, such as the bookmark-organizing service del.icio.us, and the user-driven, popularity-based news site Digg.com.

Quite often, just clicking on a button or something that says "RSS" or which bears the RSS icon will be good enough to get Opera to ask you if you want to add that feed to your Opera feeds.

But in case it doesn't work, then, you can also add feeds manually. First, have the address of the blog (or whatever) you want to handy, or ready to paste, by highlighting the address and pressing Ctrl+C on the keyboard to copy the address to the clipboard.

Then, go to the Feeds menu and select Manage feeds..., which will open a little window titled Subscribe to RSS newsfeeds.

At the text field labeled Address, you can either type the address in yourself, or press Ctrl+V on the keyboard to paste the address in. Select how often you want the feed to be updated, then press OK.

Poof, now Opera will automatically periodically check those RSS feeds for you and download any new posts.



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BitTorrent - Disabling It

Opera even has a client for the infamous, controversial BitTorrent. (That link is to the Wikipedia article about it. So, don't trust it completely - you never should trust anything from Wikipedia completely, because Wikipedia can be edited by literally anyone).

I avoid using it, though, since I don't like having my computer constantly doing stuff on the internet in the background. In fact, it makes me feel better to have Opera's BitTorrent functions disabled entirely.

This can be done by going to opera:config#BitTorrent|Enable, unchecking the checkbox labeled Enable, and pressing the Save button.

I scarcely use BitTorrent at all, but, when I do, I prefer to use the client µTorrent. (By the way, µ is the Greek letter "mu").



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The Speed Dial - How to Get Rid of It

The Speed Dial screen is something that might appear by default when you have no tabs open.

If you'd rather have a totally blank screen when you have no tabs open, go to opera:config#UserPrefs|SpeedDialState, then set Speed Dial State to 3, and scroll down and click the Save button.



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Thumbnail Previews in Tabs - How to Get Rid of Them

If it annoys you to have a thumbnail image of suddenly appear beneath tabs you happen to hover your cursor over, you can turn them off by going here: opera:config#UserPrefs|UseThumbnailsinTabTooltips

Just make sure the checkbox next to Use Thumbnails in Tab Tooltips is empty, scroll down, and click the Save button.



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Allowing scripts to receive right-clicks

What kind of scripts? JavaScripts. Maybe others too, I'm not sure.

At any rate, doing the following actually make it so the handy-dandy JavaScript right-click function on my old Blog Table of Contents page potentially works properly.

Unfortunately, though, it still doesn't work properly all the time - it only works properly if my Blog Table of Contents is the only tab you have open. Otherwise, instead of a right-click doing what it's supposed to do and zipping directly to the iframe on that page, a right-click will open some other tab you have open.

Still, though, allowing scripts to receive right clicks may be useful to you, if you have some pages with useful JavaScript scripts on them which need to receive right-clicks in order to work properly.

Simply go to opera:config#UserPrefs|Allowscripttoreceiverightclicks, empty the checkbox next to Allow script to receive right clicks, then scroll down and click the Save button.


One drawback of doing this is that this will make it so you can now be pestered by those irritating and useless JavaScript scripts some idiot webmasters put in to supposedly stop you from copying their web page's images when you right-click.

Those kinds of scripts are so stupid and pointless - first of all, a lot of people right-click for perfectly innocent reasons, like wanting to open a link in a new window. Second of all, anyone really determined to save your images is going to do it, because there are numerous quite simple ways to do it. So all scripts like that do is annoy the innocent, and totally fail to thwart the guilty unless they're completely clueless.

To make it so you can easily get rid of annoyances like that, it's easy enough to add an Enable JavaScript checkbox to your toolbar, so you can turn JavaScript on and off at will without delving into your web browser settings. See the section titled Customizing your toolbars.



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Changing what the middle mouse button click, or mouse wheel click, does

You can set what your middle mouse button click, or mouse wheel click, does by going to the Tools menu and selecting Preferences. (Or, instead of using the menu, you can use a keyboard shortcut - press Ctrl+F12).

Then, in the Preferences window that pops up, click the Advanced tab, and in the list that will appear at the left side of the window, highlight Shortcuts (it's the second item from the bottom).

Then, press the button labeled Middle click options..., which will bring up a window where you can set what your middle click will do.

I prefer having it set to Open in background tab.



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Widgets

And last, but far from least, widgets. There are a lot of cute and genuinely useful little programs called widgets you can download and use in your Opera web browser.

The main website for widgets is Widgets.Opera.Com. There, you you can browse and download the tons of widgets that are available. You can reach that website either by clicking the link, or by going to the Widgets menu and selecting Add widgets.

There's even some way to create your own widgets, but I haven't figured that out yet. If you're interested in that, the Opera Widgets Developers Documentation page might be a good starting point.

For a list of some of the Opera widgets I like, along with some details and tips for them, see my Opera Web Browser Widgets I Like, and Tips page.



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Donations, Etc.

If you like this page, or even if you don't, you're welcome to send me donations or microdonations of any amount. (Of course, I only want them from people who really want to send them to me and can genuinely afford to, so don't worry about it if you can't or just don't feel like sending me anything).

It certainly doesn't have to be anything large, since, for example, if 100 people send me just $1, that's $100 already.

I also enthusiastically welcome donations which are less than $1, since they can really add up.

Another option is, you could buy something from me in Second Life. There's not much available to buy yet, but, eventually I'll probably get around to creating more stuff to sell.


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Last modified: Oct. 26, 2008
This page uploaded to web: June 29, 2007