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How to win big market share for Opera Windows desktop browser (bookmarks, sync)

  • Frustrated with new tab options in Firefox, hoping to emulate Opera's Speed Dial for Firefox's new tab, I just found Fast Dial, which I THINK may work for me. Building and maintaining the structure may be slower (less drag & drop, more right-click actions "add to Fast Dial", "Move", etc), but it supports folders and seems to offer precise control. Also, the structure is automatically reflected as a folder in the full bookmark hierarchy.

    The new tab extension I like best so far in Chrome is quite different, "Humble New Tab Page", which provides nice access to all bookmarks. I'll keep looking for Speed Dial alternatives there too, which I'll have to weigh against "Humble New Tab Page".

    Still considering browser options in search of the perfect one!

  • @wcolwell

    You'll never emulate Opera's speed dial. It's the best! But bonne chance!

  • @rainspa

    I looked at Superstart Speed Dial in Firefox. I much prefer the Opera 21 Speed Dial. While of course, I may be missing something, I did spend a good deal of time with that extension-Speed Dial, and here are some of my thoughts:

    (1) One issue is that in Superstart, you create a folder and when you have a limited number of links in the folder (2, 3, 4, etc.) there's far too much wasted space in the folder. Three link-items are swallowed in in a folder with tons of wasted empty space. And if you have more than three link-items in a folder, the thumbnail shows too small. By five five link-items they're miniscule, and bordering on worthless. Yes when you open the folders it looks okay, but really, even with just a folder view, it should look good. The display before you open the folder ought to be attractive (as they are in Opera 21). Before you open a folder is basically the home setting of the Speed Dial. If view is attractive, there is then an overall ambiance for the browser, that makes the user "smile."

    (2) Compact mode in Superstart is ludicrous, everything becomes so small.

    (3) Another problem is that in Superstart, you can't seem to adjust the size of the folders and make them smaller, other than by creating more columns, and when you do that the folders can become so small, and the thumbnails in them so tiny, the appearance is terrible. On the other hand, Opera gives you two different sizes for your site thumbnails and folders -- Big and Not big (with the ability to customize further in an advanced menu). You have choices. And when you create more columns, it doesn't change the size of the folders: all that happens is that the folders take up more of the real estate of the browser. The big and not big choices in Opera look good. And the thumbnails in them still look good.

    (4) The Opera Speed Dial has more abilities with adding photo art, that are meaningful to me. You can add to it, not only from photos on the computer (which Superstart is mostly limited to), but from an Opera website with a selection of beautiful art (some of which is superb for wallpaper), and also anywhere on the internet, where you see a jpg photo. In Opera 21, you can just right click on that jpg, and immediately incorporate it as a theme/background for your Speed Dial. I love the serendipity of that instant find. In Superstart, you would have to save the art to a folder in your computer, and then try to add it to the Speed Dial. And anything you have incorporated for a theme/background in Opera, it saves in a separate place, so that you have near instant access if you want it for the Speed Dial, just by right clicking on an empty space on the Speed Dial, and selecting Change Theme. In Superstart, what you have used in the past is not remembered. You have to go back to the folders (however buried they are in your computer) to hunt for the items you want.

    (5) In Opera, you can add Speed dial links/thumbnails or folders forever. I don't know if that option is at all there in Speed Dial. Can you add folders to the Speed Dial forever? If the feature is there, it's worthless, because without a search function (Control F doesn't work on the Speed Dial), it would be useless. You wouldn't be able to locate very well. Opera has a search engine on the speed dial page (a sort of looking glass that you click on), and can locate anything instantly, when you put in a search term.

    (6) Now in its folder view (that is, before the folder is opened) the Opera Speed Dial only shows a maximum of 4 thumbnails in a folder (if there are four or less links, you see thumbnails for all the links there) (If you open the folder all the thumbnails are there, whatever the number in attractive thumbnails), even if there eight items in the folder. I believe that the reason for that folder view limitation of what you see is that if it were showing all the thumbnails in a large folder, the thumbnails would be so small they'd be unattractive/aesthetically unappealing, worthless. Superstart shows all the thumbnails in the folder. That's a mistake particularly where the folder has a lot of items, because the appearance of thumbnails when there are many in the folder is tiny and therefore , in the folder view, quite poor. And the Folder swallows the thumbnails (when there are not that many items in a folder), leaving tons of wasted space. So you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't with the way the folder view in Superstart appears.

    (7) Opera 21 has other nice speed dial features. You can drag landmarks from the personal bookmarks toolbar to the Speed Dial, creating a Speed Dial item, AND ALSO the other way -- from the Speed Dial to the Personal Bookmarks toolbar, creating a bookmark there. Superstart doesn't seem to let you drag from the personal bookmarks toolbar to the speed dial, creating a speed dial item.

    (8) Opera permits 3-9 columns on the speed dial (though I've only been able to get 8 without customizing further). The layout in any of them up to the 8 columns that I've seen looks quite reasonable. The thumbnails are still pleasing to look at in a folder. In Superstart, with as the columns increase, the folders shrink in size correspondingly, and with anything more than 3 or 4 columns, thumbnails become so small, they border on increasingly ridiculous.

    (9) In Opera you can right click on any bookmark, and make it a speed dial item. That feature isn't there in Superstart.

    (10) The caption for the folders in Superstart is in relatively fine black, and against quite a few backgrounds, some of the captions become quickly unreadable. In Opera the caption for the folders is a thicker white, and I almost never have a problem seeing it. A white background that makes it harder to read is much less common than a dark background that makes the Superstart folder captions harder to read.

    (11) Yes, Superstart has a few extra pseudo-artsy features, (transparency, enabling background color, etc.) but they're not features I care that much about. I prefer having more options for easily being able to locate art. The Opera Speed Dial layout is really well-thought and gorgeous. While if I were using Firefox, I could use Superstart, it has many shortcomings, though maybe it's looking at it after seeing the wonderful Speed Dial in Opera 21, that so affects my view.

  • @rainspa & @lem729
    You should take a look at Fast Dial for Firefox though. I seem able to create the same structure of folders as in Opera's Speed Dial. I was able to adjust Opera's to 6 columns and 3 rows (by decreasing the thumbnail size by a pixel or so in Super User mode, and have been able to get Firefox's Fast Dial to also display 18.

    I wish the folders would show miniature thumbnails on them as with Opera's Speed Dial (so far I have only a plain folder look in Fast Dial).

    As mentioned before, the tools for building the structure are a little different, more right click menu-driven vs drag and drop, but reasonable nonetheless.

  • @wcolwell

    I'll look at it, but 2234 user reviews, and only an average rating of 3 stars 🙂 for Fast Dial. So as someone said somewhere (was it Hamlet?) :)) something's rotten in Denmark. Now why did the Bard pick on poor Denmark?

    I took a quick look. I'm too tired to think deeply. The Superstart speed dial wore me out. But at first blush, the Fast Dial looks awful! I can understand the mass of only 3 star reviews. It gives you these pre-created folders of a huge size that destroy the background you may have added.

    Be brave, wcolwell. You say at the beginning of this thread: "I suspect I'm a mainstream browser user." Don't worry about the mainstream view. Your nits about Opera -- sync and bookmark support (by which I assume you mean importing bookmarks into Opera) might be a problem for unsophisticated users, but not for you, and they pale in comparison with what you like about it. You can deal with the nits. Go with your gut! Opera has so many features I think you would love. And by the bye, Opera may not be the mainstream browser. IT CREATES THE MAINSTREAM BROWSER. Opera made tabbed browsing before the alleged mainstream knew what it was, and then everyone followed suit. Opera gave the world speed dial, the same . . . Forget the mainstream. Be ahead of the time. Be with the browser where the mainstream is made!!!!

  • @lem729

    Fast Dial does show 222k users though for what that's worth.

    I'd claim Fast Dial has a learning curve of 10-15 minutes to get productive in building what you want. That could easily generate some negative reviews I'd bet. It's all quite logical and efficient once you're up-to-speed though.

    In contrast, with Opera's Speed Dial, you can be immediately productive (zero learning curve, due to more intuitive drag & drop). Then it takes a few minutes to figure out how to squeeze more thumbnails into the page.

  • So many users, but they're not giving it good reviews. You have 2234 reviews, and they consider the speed dial very average. If all those others users (225K of them) liked it, they'd review it better. Often, people download the stuff and are counted is users. I think I've downloaded five speed dials on Firefox alone. Am I a user of them. No way. Superstart has a lot of users too. I looked at that speed dial and wasn't impressed, though at first blush, I think I'd prefer it to Fast Dial. 🙂 Though, I'll tell you, I haven't heretofore really found a speed dial I like in Firefox. And I like to have my backup browsers equipped and ready to go, so I do try the stuff. The difference with the Opera Speed Dial is that it has so many right touches. It's well-thought out, rather elegant! Is it a "killer" feature. Yeah, I still think so.

  • @wcolwell

    On the Opera 21 Speed Dial, I just discovered you can change the size of your folders (and the thumbnails) by just using the keyboard shortcuts + - (0 or 9 if advanced shortcuts are enabled)(6 returns you to the standard size), or hold down the cntrl key (and use the scrolling feature on your mouse). So if you have a portion of the wallpaper you don't want the folders to cover, just adjust the size of the folders a bit, and in certain cases it may help.

    Also, on the caption for the folder (remember how I mentioned in my post comparing the Opera 21 Speed Dial to the Speed Dial in Superstart (the Firefox extension) that the black caption for folders in Superstart's Speed Dial is often not viewable if the Wallpaper/cover art is black). I now see that the Opera folder caption changes color based on the selection of the wallpaper. If I have dark wallpaper, the caption for the folder is white. If I have very light whitish wallpaper, the caption for the folder is black. The Opera Speed Dial developers must have thought about readability of the folder captions, and built something into the Speed Dial to enhance it. It's a pretty good feature.

  • @rainspa & @wcolwell

    On the comparison I did yesterday between Opera's Speed Dial and Superstart in Firefox, I want to correct a few things, as I've had more time to look at Superstart. Upon closer examination, when you set the folders in Superstart in Simple Style mode, the caption then is in a combination of black against white and becomes reasonably readable in either a dark or a light background, so I take back the concern I raised about it yesterday sometimes -- against a certain background -- not being readable. I think the folder view in Superstart can be attractive if you have a mix of some folders that have many items in them, and others with maybe two, or there's a link location with just one thumbnail. If the wallpaper is right, it can be a quite artistic and pleasing Speed Dial, and some of my concern about the folder being too big and overwhelming a few thumbnails is lessened when the folder is set to take on the background of the wallpaper. That gives it a very unique appearance. For the moment, Superstart is in Firefox, my favorite Speed Dial. I still prefer the Opera 21 Speed Dial with folders as it has more features, including the search function (particularly useful if you have a lot of links in the speed dial), a greater ability for the user to find easily wallpaper for the Speed Dial, a better ability to customize as to columns and size of the thumbnails, and also, it would seem, a greater access to live content (I have quite a bit on my Opera speed dial, and so far, have not been able to find any for Superstart), though I need to explore that issue a bit more closely. Live content can be a plus for a speed dial.

  • Does Superstart have a tabbed interface like the one I mentioned earlier in this topic?

  • No. Superstart does not have a tabbed interface. But it does set up a speed dial à la Opera 21 where you can have folders of speed dial icons/thumbnails, by dragging one thumbnail on top of another. And a large number of items can be in each folder.

    I think the tabbed interface you describe and you showed me a picture earlier in this thread (we should have made this a Speed Dial thread :))), is more a Speed Dial with several pages, each page on a different tab. I have Foxtab Speed Dial 9.2.1 in Chrome and it's like that -- with tabs for each page I set up. It doesn't have folders of Speed Dial items. And that's why it gives multiple pages (you can set different wallpaper for each page). It is pretty nice. Now there's a Foxtab for Firefox, but for some reason, I wasn't able to get it to look the same as that look in Chrome, which I thought was quite good.

    I don't think a folder Speed Dial necessarily needs a tabbed interface with multiple pages -- though I will make an argument for an extra page even in a folder-type Speed Dial at the end of this post. I mean with Opera, you can keep adding speed dial items/folders of items, if you want forever, and once you get beyond a normal page, you end up with a scrolling bar to the right. And you keep going down the page -- a vertical drop, one page, in effect, beneath the last. Superstart also gives you the scrolling bar to the right, when you fill up a normal page. So in effect the pages are added underneath each other, and you use that scrolling bar to get to them.

    Now here's the only reason I can think to have an extra page in a folder type Speed Dial. And it's purely for aesthetics. The initial page is, in effect, your home view -- and you might be inclined (particularly if you have nice wallpaper) to not want to overwhelm and block out the wallpaper with many columns of folders going down across the wallpaper forever. Why you wouldn't see the wallpaper behind all of the links/thumbnails/folders. Even as one wants his or her own home to be attractive, the same with the computer home for the browser. BUT if you had at least two pages/ that extra tab, you could set up the first page of the speed dial with a more limited exposition of your all time favorites, not overwhelm/block out the wallpaper, maybe even only go half way down the page. You could show perhaps 7 columns, 3 rows, or something like that. Now the second page/tab, you could have a lot more, not worry about overwhelming the wallpaper. Therefore, when you initially open the browser, you would get the beautiful view of the folder-speed Speed Dial (not overwhelmed by too many links/folder) with a lot of your all-time favorites there, and you would just click the tab to go to the more fuller page of Speed Dial items, that page maybe of 8 columns, going down in rows forever.

    I mean, this is my argument for why an extra page might be good, even for the Opera folder-type speed dial. It would be more essential if Opera hadn't added the Personal Bookmarks Bar. As it is, I use the Speed Dial to display a reasonable number of links (thumbnails), while at all times preserving my aesthetics (with the beautiful wallpaper), and I use the Personal Bookmarks Bar for the rest. So I can live without the extra page/tab in the Opera Speed Dial.

  • I'm still enjoying Fast Dial 4.11 on Firefox. I believe it is every bit as good as Opera's Speed Dial through somewhat different in its controls.

    @lem729, you raised the rating issue for Fast Dial. Fast Dial has apparently existed since the days of Firefox 3. Many of the ratings are old, I think, for earlier versions. I just tallied up the ratings done in 2014. 16 in number, average 4.75. If you haven't given Fast Dial a serious look (and you hadn't, based on your earlier responses), you may be missing out on a truly viable Speed Dial.

    At this point, in my assessment, it's fully tied with Opera's Speed Dial for ease of use and functionality. There are pros and cons to each. I love the fact that its structure is reflected in the bookmark hierarchy and can be built and edited from there.

    I took a quick look at Superstart and didn't like it as well. But I know these things are quite subjective. And Superstart could grow on me if I spent more time with it.

    My two cents.

    PS: I noticed a comment in the blog that the Opera Team intends to build more bookmarking capability into future versions. Hooray!

  • @wcolwell

    Nice to hear from you. There was a start up curve with Fast Dial, and lazy me, it looked so horrible at the beginning, when I set it up. Are you saying, the ability with art/wallpaper, etc is as good with Fast Dial 4.11, as with Opera? And that the speed dials/folders don't have to cover it all up. That it can, so to speak, "knock you out." Or are you more of the pragmatic person, just focusing on what you can display in the dial. If so can it permit an infinite display of folders? And does it have a search bar? Since I"m a speed dial junkie -- one of life's small pleasures -- (when I was younger it was roller coasters):))) I'll have to play with it when I have more time 🙂 I do think Superstart is pretty good (It's right now my Firefox Speed Dial favorite), though prefer Opera's speed dial, it's terrific ability to customize, and which Speed Dial has an appearance, which often leaves me smiling, particularly when I add the new/perfect background theme.

    I saw the same thing you did on Opera's having plans via bookmarking, and was hoping they had in mind an "import/export manager," especially to cover imports from third party browsers. That seems to me the main hole in what they have for bookmarks (unless it's to add something in the basic browser, you can get now via extension, such as Add Bookmark. Some people are extension challenged. 🙂 so they might want to add a few basic type things.

  • I'm the more pragmatic sort. I'd like if Fast Dial automatically grabbed thumbnails from contained URLs and displayed a random selection of 4 of them on the surface of the folder like Opera's, but the default is a manila folder image; you can add a jpeg icon to each folder apparently though I haven't done that.

    I'm not sure about background and artwork generally in Fast Dial. It seems to offer lots of customization (though it may not automate that). I tend to like plain backgrounds so for me background isn't too relevant.

    Functionally, I think Fast Dial is very slick, probably more sophisticated than Opera's Speed Dial (but that comes with more menu-driven, vs automated, customization).

  • For me, how it looks, is 50 percent of its quality? Now Opera's Speed Dial is highly functional/customizable, but the other half is there too: it looks wonderful. For me, so far, nothing is close, really. Of course being able to add folders forever, and having a search capacity through them is a must too?

  • @lem729 I forgot to answer your search question. I just took a look and Fast Dial lets you insert a bunch of search windows across the top of the page(with choices of all search engines you have active in Firefox; I added DuckDuckGo to check; it worked). I haven't used this feature as I just use the combined address/search window for search.

  • If my memory is correct Opera's original speed dial had nine thumbnails, personally I think that's about right, though I have ten, otherwise speed dial (to quote persala, I think,) it becomes slow dial, so in the end its a matter of taste, and personally I like to customise it with my own logos too, easier to recognise. I can't see the point of folders in a speed dial, a decent bookmark manager works better for that. I haven't tried Fast Dial yet but using a combination of Superstart and nicknames I've got Firefox pretty much like Opera Presto, for if or when I need to abandon Opera that is.

  • @lem729 I forgot to answer your search question. I just took a look and Fast Dial lets you insert a bunch of search windows across the top of the page(with choices of all search engines you have active in Firefox; I added DuckDuckGo to check; it worked). I haven't used this feature as I just use the combined address/search window for search.

    I meant a search of the links in your Speed Dial. (wcolwell, the search engines you are referring to sound like internet search engines. That's a different thing entirely). If you put a lot in the Speed Dial (you're wasting it, rainspa, lol), and with Opera, it's near infinite what you can put in, you simply have to have the ability to search there, to find what you want. I have about 100 links in it (and am only using up 1/2 a page, so the wallpaper looks great), and it's going very quick for me. It might depend on your computer resources. You can use a search feature on the Speed Dial page (a looking glass) to find the speed dial item/link). Opera Blink takes more resources than Opera Presto, and Opera 21, more than Opera 20, so if you're resource challenged, maybe that could slow things down.

  • Interesting. I hadn't thought about search within Speed Dial. Not sure that is something I need yet. I have things in very well-defined folders ("Email/Comm", "Portal/News", "Banking/Finance", "Computer", etc. and may yet add subfolders (to split Banking from Investments, etc.). Ideally I'd keep the number of thumbnails within each folder or subfolder down to 10 or less.

    But I could see the "Computer" folder growing, but Speed Dial probably isn't the construct I want for large numbers of bookmarks. After all, it's supposed to be "Speed Dial", no? LOL

  • Yes and no on how you want to use it. Some people may use it as a primary bookmark resource. It can have infinite folders in Opera. So the ability to search internally is essential. Now maybe you don't care, but the key is that Opera gives the ability to go either way. With the ability to search the Speed Dial, one can make it a primary bookmarks resource. Personally, I prefer it as a secondary resource (spruced up with nice wallpaper, etc.). And would rather use the Personal Bookmarks Toolbar as the primary resource. But the internal search engine for the Speed Dial makes either approach viable.

    But even if you had the Speed dial as a primary bookmarks resource with myriads of folders, as long as you can quickly find the folder you want (via the search engine), click on it, open let's say ten items there and it's a Speed Dial of ten items in the folder. Each folder opened becomes its own Speed Dial.