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Opera Tutorial

One step at a time...

1) What is Opera? And why use it?

Opera is a browser. A browser is a program that resides on your computer that allows you to load and view documents and other content such as images and graphics. This content can be either on your own computer or it can be what you access via the internet or other network. There are many other browsers, including Internet Explorer and Netscape, and you may already be using one of these when you access the internet with your computer or internet device.

Opera is a full-featured internet browser that installs quickly and easily and will not interfere with other programs on your computer, including other browsers. Opera is known for its speed in rendering of webpages, its adherance to web standards, and its customizable user interface. Opera is a secure browser in a small, powerful package. Read more, or see for yourself...

2) Downloading and installing

If you haven't already downloaded Opera, do so now. To find the appropriate version for your operating system, and your choice of language, if available, go to the Opera download page. Instructions for downloading are available there.

Once you have gotten the Opera file onto your local machine, it is ready to install. It is generally wise to close any open programs before installing new programs. Once you've done that, you simply click on the Opera file to activate the installation process. Follow the instructions that appear on the screen. Opera will install and let you know when the process is finished. You can then start using the program right away.

3) Open Opera

Open Opera using the desktop icon (graphic to the right) the big red O, or use the shortcut in the system programs menu. Opera can be customized to suit you, if you wish, either just a little, or extensively, depending on your tastes. But first, let's have a look at the Opera program and its functions...

4) Overview: First looks

The main Opera program interface consists of several major parts, including; document windows, the main menu, context menus, the button bar, the progress bar, the window bar, and the Hotlist pane. Click here to see images showing the parts of Opera and their names.

5) Going somewhere

The first thing that you might notice about the Opera browser is the ability to view multiple document windows. Opera is very efficient at displaying multiple documents. You can view one web page while loading others in the background at the same time! To open a new window(s) click the New button on the toolbar, or press the key combination Ctrl+N.

Let's start with one window, and go somewhere on the internet.

image of document window

We have three choices

Direct addressing:

  1. If you like to use the keyboard, use F8 to go the address field, otherwise use the mouse pointer to get you there.
  2. Enter an address (URL) directly. For example, type www.opera.com or just opera in the address field.
  3. Click the go button, or hit the Enter key, and Opera will go directly to the domain that you have specified. If applicable, Opera will add www before the term and com after the term, and will go find the domain of the name that you have typed.
  4. You can also use the key F2 and enter an address directly.

Opera 5 has a brand new search function. It works several ways.

  1. Enter the term or phrase that you wish to search for in the search field of the progress bar and press Enter, or press the search button. If you click on the little down arrow on the search button you can choose to make your search using a different search engine or other search resource.
  2. OR: Enter a keyword search directly in the address field. First, enter a keyword (actually just one letter) followed by a space, and then your search phrase. For example, entering g Opera will search for Opera using the Google search engine.

    The list of usable keywords can be found in the Opera Search preferences. Use the key combination Alt+P to open Opera's Preferences and visit the Search section. The keywords are also quite guessable: see the search engines available in the search drop-down box, and use the first letter of the one you wish to search with.

Open a bookmark

Click on something interesting in the bookmark section of the Hotlist. This is a picture of the Hotlist. You can toggle the Hotlist off and on by using the F4 key. (You can also toggle it by choosing View/Hotlist from the Opera main menu, and set the Hotlist floating or docked.)

If you have trouble accessing the internet, see the Troubleshooting section below.

6) Preferences: basic to advanced customization

We at Opera Software like to give you as many options as possible. In order to get the most from your Opera experience you will need to visit the Opera Preferences menu. Here you will learn how to tweak Opera into being your favorite software application!

Click File on the Opera menu (top left of the screen) and choose Preferences. Alternately, you can simply press the key combination Alt+P on the keyboard to open the Preferences menu.

To learn what does what (in the shortest amount of time!), visit the Preferences page in the Opera Help.

In addition, you can customize nearly every feature in and around the Opera browser. To get a glimpse of the possibilities, see the section Mastering Opera on the Support pages.

7) Explore Opera features and functions

Elsewhere on Opera.com:

Viewing Modes

Opera has both a normal viewing mode, and a Full screen mode, the latter which is also known as Operashow.

  1. Opera's basic interface is MDI, meaning Multiple Document Interface. As you have learned, Opera allows you to work with multiple open windows simultaneously.
  2. Opera's Full screen mode can be entered by pressing the F11 key. (Press F11 once again to exit.) This mode is useful for a number of reasons.
    • Maximize the use of space on your small screen
    • Go fullscreen to eliminate other user interface distractions. This makes Opera a great kiosk browser.
    • See the page about OperaShow -- using Opera as a presentation tool to find out more about using Opera to display powerful OperaShow presentations.

Skinning Opera

Applying "Skins" is a way of changing the look of a program. There are several ways you can change Opera's appearance:

  • by changing the standard Windows colour scheme from Windows' Control panel/Display/Settings
  • by changing Opera's colour settings from "File/Preferences/Toolbars"
  • by designing your own buttons
  • by choosing images to use as toolbar and workspace background

Leaving yourself a trail - Bookmarks and history

Opera has some very powerful features that can help you organize both where you want to go and where you have been.


Opera has great bookmarking features. Go ahead and test them out! You can access your bookmarks either from the main menu, or from the Hotlist (Toggle the F4 key). Or read more here: Hotlist, bookmarks in the Help


document history of window

Opera has two major history features: Document window history, and Global history. Directly above is an image of Opera's document window history. Each document window has its own drop-down list of visited webpages. You can view this list by pressing H on the keyboard, or by clicking the little arrow to the right of the address field. Here you can select a previously visited page from the list, and revisit it.

The Global history shows a listing of all the pages that you have visited with Opera, arranged by date and time visited. You can view the global history window by selecting Window/Special/History from Opera's main menu. If you like to use the keyboard, the global history window can be opened using the key combination Ctrl+Alt+H.

See also: History and cache preferences in the Help.

Instant messaging

Opera now includes an Instant Messaging client, which is integrated with the Opera contact manager and email client. Opera's Instant messaging allows you to conveniently use your ICQ account when browsing with Opera. You can quickly send instant messages to those in your Opera contact list. And you can opt to go online automatically with your instant messaging account when starting Opera.

Try it! Or see this Instant Messaging Help page to get started.


As always, you have choices...

  • Opera emailer - The Opera 5 browser includes a full-featured email client (program) which is conveniently integrated with the Opera browser interface. This document explains in detail how to set up and use the Opera email client: How to use Opera as your email program.
  • OperaMail. Free web-based email. Click here to create a new account. A list of OperaMail frequently asked questions is here.
  • You can also use your existing email program as you surf with Opera. If you prefer to use your existing email client, see Use External client in the Email section of the Opera Help.


The internet is more than just The Web and email. News has typically been a very popular venue. Opera has its own integrated newsreader. Handy features are:

  • Easily bookmark any news windows or article windows that you have open.
  • Enter a news URL directly in the address window, for example: news://news.opera.com
  • And bookmark it... In this way Opera can access any number of news servers.

See more info on the Opera discussions page. Or visit the Opera news groups now! Full details on Opera's newsreader are found here in the Help file.

Privacy and security

The Opera browser offers you excellent features for the protection of your privacy and security. The Opera Help explains how to use these features in detail.

For information about the ad banners in Opera, see Privacy, security, and advertising in Opera 5.

Keyboard navigation

Opera allows you to work entirely with the keyboard. A list of keyboard shortcuts is always available to you when using Opera -- press the key combination Ctrl+B or select Help from Opera's menu and choose Keyboard. An aid to becoming efficient with the keyboard is the tutorial; how to use Opera without a mouse.

Mouse Gestures

Mouse gestures speed up surfing with a mouse. This new feature is most often activated by pressing, and holding, your secondary mouse button (right by default, unless your computer is set up for a left-handed person) and moving the mouse pointer in a particular direction or pattern.

These commonly used functions are assigned mouse gestures to speed up your browsing:

go back
hold secondary button and press primary
or hold secondary button and move left
go forward
hold primary button and press secondary
or hold secondary, move right
go home
double-click primary in empty window
hold secondary button and move up, then down
open link in new window
press down secondary button on the link and move down
open link in background window
press down secondary button on the link and move down, then up


This document in the Opera Help explains Opera's excellent Accessibility features.


If you have trouble getting started with Opera, first make sure that your Internet connection is established. Troubleshooting info can be found in the program Help files. Press F1 on your keyboard to open the Opera Help, and scroll down the front page to the Troubleshooting Opera link.

More information