Software

How to use Opera's Flow to sync your desktop and mobile browsers

If sharing information between the desktop and mobile versions of Opera has been preventing you from using the browser, the wait is over. Meet Opera Flow.

operahero.jpg
Image: Opera

Opera is a browser filled with possibility. It's fast, stable, and offers some pretty cool features (some of which have been adopted by other browsers). And like other browsers, it now offers a built-in mechanism that allows you to keep your desktop and mobile versions in sync with one another. That feature is called Flow. With Flow enabled, anything you add to the feature will automatically be in sync with both devices. This is an important variation to other browser's syncing features.

Instead of syncing everything between mobile and desktop browsers, Flow allows you to only add specific links, videos, images, copied text from sites, and notes, all of which will be automatically sync'd between browsers. That means cookies, passwords, and history won't be shared between your browsers. For those that hold privacy on a pedestal, which everyone should, this could be a deal maker. To the contrary, for those that value the convenience of having absolutely everything in sync between desktop and mobile browsers, Flow might not be your thing. Either way, Flow is a great built-in service that makes it incredibly easy to move between desktop and mobile versions of Opera. Let's make it work.

What you'll need

Flow works on the latest iteration of the desktop browser, so you'll have to download the most recent version. On the mobile front, you'll need to download Opera Touch. At the moment, this is only available for Android. The company is, however, working on a version for iOS (look for it soon on the Apple App Store). On the desktop front, the feature is available for every supported platform (Linux, macOS, Windows), so nothing special needs to be done. As long as you have the latest release of Opera installed on your desktop, and Opera Touch installed on your Android device (again, iOS coming soon), you're good to go.

Let's make it work.

Setting up Flow

The first thing you must do is make sure Flow is enabled on the desktop version of Opera. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open Opera.
  2. From the Speed Dial click the Settings button in the upper right corner of the window.
  3. When the Settings sidebar opens, scroll down until you see My Flow (Figure A)
  4. If My Flow is disabled, enable it by clicking the slider.

Figure A

Figure A

Enabling My Flow on the desktop version of Opera.


Once it's enabled, you then need to scan a QR code to connect the mobile and desktop versions. To do this, click on the My Flow icon in the left sidebar of the desktop Opera (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

The Flow icon on the desktop version of Opera.


After clicking the Flow icon, the flow sidebar should expand. Since you haven't connected a mobile browser, the Connect your phone button will appear (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure D

Connect your phone is ready.


After clicking the Connect your phone button, a QR code will appear. Go back to your mobile phone and open Opera. Since this is the first time you've opened Opera Touch, you'll see a button labeled Connect to computer (Figure D). Tap that button, and then in the next screen, tap Scan QR code.

Figure D

Figure D

Connecting your mobile device to the desktop version of Opera.

Once you successfully scan the QR code, your mobile and desktop browsers are connected.

Using Flow

Using Flow is incredibly easy. If you go to a website you want to share between platforms, simply click on the Flow icon in the address bar (Figure E - right-pointing arrow).

Figure E

Figure E

Adding a site to Flow.


Now when you open Flow on either the desktop or mobile versions, that site will be available.

If you want to add a snippet of text from a web page, you can simply select the text in question, and then from the pop-up, click Send to My Flow (Figure F).

Figure F

Figure F

Adding a snippet of text to My Flow.


If you find an image you want to add, simply right-click the image and click Send image to My Flow. And, finally, if you want to add a note to My Flow, open the My Flow sidebar, click on the note text area at the bottom, and type Figure G). Click the Flow icon and your note will be saved.

Figure G

Figure G

Adding a note to My Flow.


Happy syncing

And that's all there is to sharing links, snippets, images, and notes between Opera and Opera Touch. Look forward to Opera Touch coming to iOS soon, so you can get your Flow on with both Android and Apple mobile devices.

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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