Opera Desktop Widgets are small standalone applications rather like Windows Desktop Gadgets. Since Opera v10.10 it’s been possible to launch these widgets independently of the browser - you can open or close Opera but the widgets work so long as you have Opera installed on your computer. Some widgets are quite useful - the screen ruler being one which seems to be very popular amongst Opera users, but there are a number of other applications available to help you work better, or just to decorate your computer with unnecessary junk.
In their infinite wisdom Opera decided to abandon support for their desktop widgets in all versions of their browser from v12 onwards. While previously installed widgets do still work with the current version of Opera (v12.15 for Windows) it is no longer possible to install new ones if you only have this version of Opera on your computer.
The workaround is to download and install a separate copy of a previous version of Opera, and version 11.64 works just fine for what we need it for.
Download v11.64 for Windows here (other versions for other platforms are available there too): ftp://ftp.opera.com/pub/opera/win/1164/
After downloading it be careful about installing it - while it IS possible to simply downgrade to v11.64 DO NOT do this is you also use Opera’s in-built mail client to check and send your email because you can’t convert your mail files version 12 back into the format which is used in version 11.64.
Instead, when you click to begin the installation, choose the “Options” button at the bottom left. This will allow you to install a copy of this version separately from your existing installation - and the warning which says “Your existing Opera installation will be upgraded” will disappear.
When you click on the Options button you will see the following screen. UNCHECK all of the boxes if you want to avoid cluttering your computer up with unnecessary shortcut icons and ADD ” 11.64” to the end of the Install path.
After making the changes shown above, click the “Accept and Install” button. Installation should only take a few seconds and Opera 11.64 will launch - quite probably at a page which recommends that you upgrade to the latest version of Opera. You can simply and quite safely ignore this and close the browser down again.
Finding and installing widgets
Now that you have Opera 11.64 on your computer, installing and running widgets is very easy to do but actually finding the widget files in the first place involves a bit of detective work.
Sadly, Opera (again, what are they thinking?) have removed all the old widget files from public viewing on their own server but you can use a search engine (e.g. Google) to find them dotted around the web in various places. At the time of writing one website with quite a good collection of widgets is here:
Note that Opera Widget files have a “.wgt” suffix, so this should help you if you go searching for more. Of course, it helps if you can narrow down your search for a particular widget and, luckily, the Internet Archive’s WayBack Machine has stored a good number of pages which list almost all of Opera’s widgets:
Unfortunately this doesn’t give you access to the actual widget file (or even the file name) but there should be enough information there for you to search around and get your hands on a copy of the widget file - for instance you could simply contact the widget author and ask them for a copy.
Once you have a copy of the file you’ll need to install it. There are two ways to do this:
1) You can open Opera 11.64, then press Ctrl+O (or click the Opera button…Page…Open) to open the file directly from wherever you saved it (remember to change the “Files of type” selector to show “All files (*.*)” in order to be able to see the widget file).
2) Navigate to your widget file in Windows Explorer then open up another Explorer window and navigate to your Opera 11.64 folder in Program Files, then simply drag and drop the widget file on top of the Opera.exe program file.
In both cases the Widget installation program will launch, but first you may see the following message box asking if you want to use Opera 11.64 as your default web browser. Put a tick against the “Do not show this dialog again” option, then click “Yes” or “No” to continue (depending on your preference).
The Widget installer will look like this:
Click “Install” to accept the default installation settings, or click “Customize” if you want to change anything.
Click “Finish” to launch the widget. On all widgets you can right-click anywhere on the widget to set the widget to display “always on top” of other windows, if you prefer.