Fixing Tab Switching Behavior in Opera

Thursday, March 12, 2015

I am aware that my attachment to the Opera browser ever since its fifth iteration back in 2000 puts me in a minority group of internet users. However, over the years I had grown to enjoy the built-in features and smoothness of browsing experience and despite trying to like both Firefox and Chrome I always kept going back to trusty old Opera. Ever since Opera's jump on the WebKit bandwagon, however, a lot of the defining characterisics of the browser disappeared.

One of the major annoyances for me as a user was the change in Ctrl+Tab behavior in the WebKit-based versions of Opera. Tab switching used to take you to your last active tab in Opera 12 and earlier. However, in newer versions, the same behavior found in Chrome was adopted - Ctrl+Tab simply cycles forward between tabs, and Ctrl+Shift+Tab cycles backwards. I am certain that preference here is strongly influenced by habit, yet I cannot help but feel that the old way was superior (at least for me). I usually find myself actively looking/working on two to three tabs and want to prioritize switching between those even if I have another 10 open. Why add an extra step to reorder the tabs I want to look at next to each other so that switching between them is easier? I tried to change my habits with the new Opera iterations but every once in a while I would get annoyed and browse through the settings in hopes of finding a way of changing this behavior.

This brings us to the other day, when I was sorting through the opera://flags/ page. There users see various experimental features they can choose to Enable and test on their browser. If you haven't skimmed through opera:flags, you should - there are some interesting toggles that I know some users would be grateful for. One of the first entries that you'll see there is Tab Cycling. The description states: "Enable tab cycling in recently used order rather than tab bar order when pressing Ctrl+Tab." And it does precisely that! I was incredibly happy to get my old tab switching behavior back without the need to install extensions or revert to old builds of Opera.

Now, for the more tech-savvy of Opera users this will be no news; the opera:flags page and the Tab Cycling toggle have been available ever since version 16 (we are now up to 28). I, however, didn't have a clue until last week and thought this might be helpful for others in a similar position. The changed setting simply requires a restart and works smoothly and trouble-free (at least so far).