Vivaldi, which is based on the same technology as Google Chrome, is a fully customizable open source browser. It’s not as fast as some of its rivals, but its developers are adding innovative new features with every release (ever fancied controlling your lighting from your browser?) and everything is fully customizable.
Not only can you choose your own shortcuts, alter the main menu design and specify the control panel placement, Vivaldi also lets you arrange browser tabs, letting you place the tabs at the top, bottom, left or right of the screen. You can also hide them altogether and use shortcuts instead. If you’re prone to keeping lots of tabs open, Vivaldi lets you stack and group them to make navigation even easier. Save your favourite tabs after a session, ready to reload any time.
A built-in browser notification function makes it easy to create memos. Vivaldi then takes a screen shot of your desktop and adds it to your memo automatically.
You can use Vivaldi to access the Chrome Web Store, and you can use Chrome add-ons to expand Vivaldi with a host of extra functions.
Vivaldi lets you build your own browser that suits the way you like to browse the web, and the whole process is broken into manageable steps that even a complete newcomer could follow.
First, you’re prompted to choose a color scheme and tab position (along the top, the bottom, or either side), which will determine the overall look of Vivaldi. Positioning tabs along the side might seem odd, but the extra space means there’s room for a preview in each one, making them easier to navigate.
Once that’s done, you’re ready to start setting up your homepage. This can be any website you like, or you can use a tool called Speed Dial to create a set of tiles for quick access to your favorite sites. It’s much like a Favorites menu, but more convenient.
Bookmarks and downloads are accessible via a narrow navigation bar on the left called the Panel, which can be collapsed using a little switch at the bottom.Here you’ll also find a notes tool that works much like a text-only version of Evernote, enabling you to jot down thoughts while you browse. You can also add site links to the Panel, which open alongside the main browser window. This is a particularly good way to keep an eye on your Twitter feed.
At the bottom of the Panel you’ll find Vivaldi’s main settings icon. As you’d expect, the options here are extensive. Some of the most significant are: keyboard, where you can define your own shortcuts; mouse, for setting gestures; and privacy, including phishing protection. If you’re on a slow connection, you can toggle images off using the small picture icon at the bottom left. The double arrow icon beside this offers a range of filters and effects. Some of these (like highlight focus and the CSS debugger) have a clear purpose, whereas others (like the 3D effect that skews the page to create a ‘turning’ effect) are just for fun.
Finally, visiting vivaldi://extensions to access to the Chrome web store, where you can install any add-on built for Google’s web browser. Extension icons will appear to the right of the browser’s search box.
The whole process is surprisingly engaging, and you can easily spend hours tweaking and customizing Vivaldi. If you’re tired of the usual web browsers and think you could do better, Vivaldi is well worth a look.
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