Here’s the story of a once popular Mac web browser that hardly anyone uses, and one that is popular if you don’t compare it with Google’s Chrome or Safari, but hardly anyone uses. Yes, that doesn’t sound right, but it is. All I can say is, “It’s a good thing browsers are free.”
The OS X History
Way back in the early days of OS X, long before it was called OS X, there was an app developer known as OmniGroup. One of OS X’s first browsers was OmniWeb and back then it came with a price tag. These days OmniWeb is free, still works, but is used only by die hards and the curious.
Back in the day OmniWeb was packed with useful and mostly different features, the originator of the side-tabbed browser.
If you like a browser packed with features then you’ll like OmniWeb. It’s fun to use. When it works. Even the latest version is a bit buggy and didn’t take much to crash it.
At the other end of the scale is the venerable Opera browser which boasts hundreds of millions of users (out of billions of browser users worldwide, so while the number is high, it’s a small percentage of total browser usage; on Mac360 Opera just tops 1-percent of our visitors).
Opera is a different story. It’s been around awhile so there’s a healthy installed base. If my memory is correct, the latest Opera for the masses is based upon the Chromium project, which forms the basis of Google’s popular Chrome browser.
Opera looks and feels like a mashup of Chrome and Firefox.
For Mac users, Opera is fast; perhaps a bit more so than either Chrome or Safari, definitely faster than Firefox, unless you load it up with extensions. There are over 1,000 extensions to enhance and extend Opera functionality, but the single most important for me is the sync-between-Opera feature. Setup an Opera account, and browser bookmarks, open tabs, passwords, and other items are synced between different Opera browsers on different devices.
Opera is uncluttered but has plenty of built-in functionality, including an option to stop fraudulent sites and malware, and another option to use a VPN while on public Wi-Fi. Newsreaders are not so much the rage these days but Opera builds one in so you can select updated sites much like an RSS reader.
Way back in the day popular browsers (remember Netscape Communicator?) also did email. SeaMonkey still does. So does Opera but only in a standalone but matching email app called Opera Mail. Opera does one thing you won’t find on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer or Apple’s Safari. There’s a version for Linux.
If you live life on the bleeding edge, then you’ll appreciate the Opera Developer Browser which features minimal functionality, blazing speed, options to test Opera TV and HTML5-based apps, and block ads. All built in and free.
Opera remains the least used of the world’s five major browsers; Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Mozilla Firefox. Yes, thanks to iPhone and iPad, even Safari has eclipsed Internet Explorer (depending upon whose survey you believe, of course).