There’s a new web browser in town, and it’s packed with geeky features like a heavily customizable user interface, support for stacking browser tabs together in groups, and support for dozens of keyboard shortcuts, quick commands, and mouse gestures.
The Vivaldi web browser first launched as a public preview in early 2015. Now version 1.0 is available for download for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Vivaldi founder Jon von Tetzchner is also co-founder of Opera Software, but he left that company a few years ago. Opera’s desktop browsers were never as widely adopted as Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari, but the browser had a reputation for offering features before they became available in those browsers. Some of those features include browser tabs and a Speed Dial home screen with shortcuts to your favorite sites
With 15 years of experience building the Opera browser under his belt, von Tetzchner knows a thing or two about what power users are looking for in a browser… and that’s why he launched Vivaldi.
Opera stopped developing its own rendering engine a few years ago, and switched to Google’s Blink engine (which is a fork of WebKit). The company has also dropped a number of features that were popular with power users, but deemed unnecessary for most users. That left some long-time fans of Opera dissatisfied.
So while Opera attempts to make a browser that appeals to the general public, von Tetzchner decided to make one for folks that want power features.
Vivaldi is also based on Google Chromium which means it also uses the Blink engine and supports browser extensions from the Google Chrome Web Store. But in addition to the features mentioned above, here are a few of the things that you can do with Vivaldi that you can’t do on most other browsers:
- Tab Stack Tiling: If you have a group of tabs stacked together, you can “tile” them to view multiple tabs at once thanks to vertical, horizontal, and grid tiling.
- Web Panels: You can also add specific websites to the panel, allowing you to open and view them from the sidebar. This can be useful for web-based chat apps, among other things, but also for news sites, Wikipedia, or just about any other page that you might want to reference without leaving the browser tab you’re currently looking at.
- Notes: Save notes while you surf the web and Vivaldi will remember which website you were looking at when you wrote the note. You can also save screenshots to your notes.
- Sessions: Save a set of tabs as a session that you can come back to later.
- Privacy: You can enable or disable features including Google Phishing and Malware protection, search from the address bar, Do Not Track, and more. Search Suggestions can also be enabled or disabled and while the default search engine is Bing, you can choose any search provider.
The number of Quick Commands and keyboard shortcuts included by default is pretty staggering. But once you get used to them, you may find that you can save time by opening a new tab, going forward or back, or performing other actions with a flick of your mouse or a quick press of two or three keys on your keyboard.
Some shortcuts can also be customized, and you can add a few of your own.
You can also customize the color or background image for the blank tab start page, enable or disable Speed Dial, choose how many columns of Speed Dial options to show, decide whether to display the Vivaldi panel on the right or left side, and choose whether tabs are displayed on the top, left, right, or bottom of the browser window.
While Vivaldi 1.0 is no longer in beta, it’s still a work in progress and new features are likely on the way. The team is also working on mobile versions of the browser, but it’s telling that Vivaldi was released for desktop users first, at a time when many software developers are designing for mobile first in order to target the largest possible user base.
Does the world need another desktop web browser? Maybe… but this isn’t necessarily a web browser designed for the whole world. It’s designed for people looking for features they cannot get from other browsers.
I spoke with Vivaldi founder Jon von Tetzchner for the LPX Show podcasts to get a better sense of why he thinks the world needs another web browser, and why it should be aimed at power users. You can listen to our conversation by clicking the play button below