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Get more control over your browsing history with Vivaldi

The Vivaldi browser gives users detailed information about previously visited sites and browsing trends. Here's more about how it works.

Image: Jack Wallen

Our browsing history says a lot about us. More important, it offers a way to inform and protect us. What did we visit? Of the sites we visited, which were redirects? When did we visit a site and what is our peak period of activity?

If you're looking at the usual suspects (Chrome, Firefox, IE, Safari), you know viewing the browsing history is fairly limited. You can view a list of sites you visited and the time you visited those sites. What if you could see more about your history? What about:

  • History in a calendar view
  • Detailed statistics about previously visited sites
  • Graphs showing peaks of online activity and key browsing trends
  • How many views to a specific page

Does your current browser give you enough history information to meet the above list? Probably not, unless you're using the latest release of Vivaldi. The Vivaldi browser was developed by the Opera Browser co-founder and former CEO, Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner along with Tatsuki Tomita. The idea was to build a browser that would please heavy internet users and technologists. If their new browser history feature is any indication, they have succeeded.

What's in your history?

If you open up your current browser history, what do you see? When I go to chrome://history, I see a list of all the sites I have visited. I can filter the view (by clicking the three-dot menu associated with an entry and selecting More from this site. I can also delete entries by checking the associated box and then clicking Delete.

With Vivaldi's history, you get significantly more information. If I go to vivaldi://history (Figure A), I am greeted with a calendar in the left column (that can be toggled on/off), a List/Day/Week/Month view of the sites visited, and visual representations of the history (right column).

Figure A

The Vivaldi browser history offers quite a few handy features.

There is also a History sidebar. Click on the small clock icon (found on the left edge of the browser) to reveal the sidebar, where you can search your history (Figure B).

Figure B

The Vivaldi History sidebar.

Before you get too creeped out that Vivaldi is recording your history to be sold off to the highest bidder, know that this history is served up locally, for the user's eyes only.

What do you do with the data?

The answer to this question is, of course, up to the user. The general population usually doesn't bother with their browser history, until they have reason to. IT pros (and other skilled users) often have more cause to view their history. Anyone that takes the time to give their browser history a good glance, might well find themselves altering their browsing habits. But beyond altering habits, the Vivaldi history makes it incredibly easy to track down a site you might have visited, but long forgotten. By itself, this feature makes the new Vivaldi History worth your time; having the ability to easily track down a visited site, with the help of a calendar. If you're unsure which specific day you visited the site (but are certain it falls within a specific range), go to the month view and highlight a selection of days to bring up the history for those selected days (Figure C).

Figure C

Searching by a range of days within Vivaldi's history.

How to get this new feature

The new history feature appeared in Vivaldi release 1.8. Download the latest release and install to enjoy this new take on the browser history tool. If you already have Vivaldi installed, and it's running version 1.7 or earlier, make sure to go through your platform's package manager and upgrade. Vivaldi is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows.

If you're running a Debian-based Linux distribution, you can always create the file /etc/apt/sources.list.d/vivaldi.list with the following contents:

deb http://repo.vivaldi.com/stable/deb/ stable main

Save that file, and issue the following two commands to install Vivaldi:

sudo apt-get update
​sudo apt-get install vivaldi-stable

By installing Vivaldi via an apt repository, the software will be upgraded whenever you run the sudo apt-get upgrade command (should there be an upgrade available).

This is worth your time

I don't suspect users will be flocking to Vivaldi in droves, but I do think the developers of this lesser-known browser are onto something very important: giving users the necessary data to help them browse intelligently. If you've ever wanted more control over your browser history, you now have it with Vivaldi.

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