It’s one of the lesser-known browsers, but Vivaldi is actually a really good choice if you value customization above all else. While you’ll get quicker browsing elsewhere with the likes of Microsoft Edge (opens in new tab), and more integration with some of your favorite apps, Vivaldi definitely has something extra to offer. If you’re a frequent user of Instagram, for example, then Vivaldi is the only browser that allows you to create new posts from your desktop (without Extensions).
While a criticism leveled against Vivaldi in the past has been its lack of pace, and perhaps an excessive amount of options, we found the most recent version to be lightning quick for most web pages, and while the options were many, their placement and explanations made perfect sense to us. This is why we’ve added Vivaldi to our list of the best web browsers (opens in new tab) right now.
Vivaldi: Installation and set-up
Actually downloading and installing Vivaldi is super easy. Navigate over to Vivaldi.com (opens in new tab), click the large install button at the top of the page, and you’ll automatically get an exe file in your download queue. Find it in your downloads folder, run the program, and Vivaldi will launch its set-up screen.
Here you’ll be asked if you want to make Vivaldi your default web browser, and you’ll be taken through a number of options that are simply, and clearly explained. Where should the browser import your settings from? Do you want to block ads and trackers? And what kind of display would you like to use? It’s very easy to do, and you won’t get any nasty bloatware installed on your machine either.
Vivaldi: User interface
Depending on the user interface you choose, Vivaldi is very similar to other web browsers, which you’ll already be familiar with. It’s closer to the latest version of Edge, in that it has strong options for stacking tabs, favorites, and menu items down the left or right side of your screen, instead of at the top. Of course, you can just have this along the top, or bottom, too - it really is up to you. Each layout just seems to make perfect sense, although whatever you choose will take some getting used to, especially if you’ve been using something like Google Chrome (opens in new tab) for a while.
There are various themes to choose from too. Obviously there is a dark mode, but the themes here seem to blend elements of both anyway. While we weren’t blown away by the number of themes, there were enough for almost anyone to choose something they really like.
You have some features as standard, like a quick search bar, which uses Bing to do a quick search for whatever term you need. There are the usual options to close and minimize windows, and to access the various features of the browser. More on that now.
Vivaldi is feature-packed, and at first it can be quite bewildering to work out what everything is, and where it all goes. In addition to the usual stuff, like favorites and bookmarks, you have the ability to add ‘basic extension’ style features to the browser itself. So, for example, we added a notes button to our left-hand nav, so we didn’t have to leave the browser window if we wanted to leave ourselves a note.
One cool feature, which Vivaldi is keen to shout about, is the ability to post to Instagram direct from the browser, which is unique to this app. All you have to do is log in to your account, add your profile as a web panel (using a single button on the left of your nav), and you get a simulated version of the smartphone view, which allows you to add photos direct to Insta (by going through a file picker, exactly like you do when you upload any other type of file). It’s easy, and a very popular feature. You can use it to keep a view of your Twitter feed too, for example, as the panels will happily tick away next to the websites you’re browsing in the main window, and notify you when any interactions occur.
If you want to use Vivaldi on all your devices, you can scan a QR code on the site and sync your laptop version with Vivaldi on your smartphone, which is a nice touch. It’ll carry all the choices you made over too, and any favorites and features you have set-up. While this integration isn’t quite as elegant as the likes of Chrome, which uses your Google Sign-in to sync your browsers, it’s still effective.
There are other great tools and features too, for more advanced users. You can take screenshots direct from the browser window, for example, and you choose between snapping what’s on screen and capturing the whole page. This is a very cool feature. You can choose not to load video and image content too, to speed up web pages, and there are loads of smaller features that enhance and customize the browser further. Yes, they’re extensions by another name, but it’s great to have them built-in, and they don’t require you to install any additional items to your browser. Or even search for them.
While researching Vivaldi, we noted that older reviews commented on the fact it was a slower tool, but we found it to be as quick as both Edge and Chrome. Most well-optimized pages load in an instant, and scrolling through them is easy and smooth.
Explainer pop-ups are timely, and unobtrusive, and no matter how many features you have active, Vivaldi doesn’t noticeably slow down. Even when you’re using the tab stacker, you need to have a lot of windows open before it starts to chug and slow down. Of course, the capacity of Vivaldi to run so many tabs and draw upon system resources does come down to the spec of your home computer (opens in new tab) too.
In the background, we appreciate the fact that Vivaldi has a ‘Cookie Crumbler’, which will eliminate all those cookie pop-ups you get when you first visit a website (and you can set to accept all, or just essential cookies as default), and the fact that Vivaldi does not use the controversial FLOC tracking system, which Google employs via Chrome.
Should you use Vivaldi?
The more we use Vivaldi, the more we like it. While it doesn’t quite have the same simple integration features of Edge that run across multiple devices, it is highly customizable regardless of what you’re using it on. It’s a slick browser too, and will make your web browsing quicker if you’re using anything other than Firefox or Edge. We like the ability to integrate so many extra features within a single window, meaning we don’t have to keep clicking away for smaller tasks like note making, and while these feel superior to regular extensions, we appreciate the fact you can actually use things like Chrome Extensions too.
In all, Vivaldi is an impressive browser. The only reason we wouldn’t recommend it is if you’re intimidated by too many features in a browser, and you simply want to look at web pages without much fuss. Sure, you can have Vivaldi in an incredibly simplistic view, which would allow basic web use… but that would waste the potential of an incredibly versatile app.
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