Everything is Permuted
Opera Skins

Opera Skins opera

One of the more esoteric aspects of Opera is the ability to 'skin' the browser so that you get the visual look you want. Adding a new skin is easy. There's a drop down option on the toolbar (View) which allows you to select any skin you've already installed.

Since I discovered Opera I've downloaded numerous skins, and they really do enhance the whole web experience. You can get skins with large, bright buttons; a cool metallic look, or the fine simplicity of my favourite MeGuidDo skin. The range is amazing and some of the designs are wonderful. On this score, Opera blows Firefox away.

But I guess I'm like a lot of Opera fans: I like to tweak. So I've finally started looking at how to create some skins of my own. I doubt I'll come up with anything to match the usability of some of the best; but it's fairly straightforward to change icons to personalize an existing skin so that it really does match your mood. As a first shot I've started work on a Chelsea skin. (It's also a great excuse to show the Premiership table at Xmas 2004!)

Chelsea skin

The core of it is the BlueXP2003 skin I downloaded from the Opera site. All I've done is change the toolbar images on the Main Bar at the top. All the images are clickable buttons. From left to right they are:

« CFC logo / Home Page
« Gudjohnsen / Rewind
« Carvalho / Back
« Terry / Stop (this doubles with Kezman / Reload as the 'refresh button')
« Drogba / Forward
« Duff / Fast Forward
« Robben / Wand (quick loading of passwords)
« Cech / Save Page
« Smertin / Print Page
« Makelele / Find in Page
« Cole / Tile Pages
« Lampard / Full Screen view
« Parker / Toggle Panels

I also created a football icon for the bookmarks I place on the Status Bar at the bottom of the page. That's just to keep the theme consistent. I'll be adding the rest of the squad over the next few days.

I hardly need to point out that I'm no expert at this. But the process is quite simple. The skins are set up in zip files. My method is:

« Download a core skin
« Locate the zip file in the Opera/Profile/Skins folder
« Copy it over to the desktop and rename it, but keep it in zip format
« Create a working folder on the desktop and extract the files to that
« Locate the icons I want in the working folder, create the new image in png format sized and tweaked in IrfanView (neat and free image utility)
« Save the image back to the correct sub-folder/file name in my working folder
« Move the relevant amended folder to the C:> root
« Open the zip file I placed on the desktop
« Import the folder from the C:> root to the zip archive, retaining path structure

« Pop the updated zip back into Opera/Profile/Skins... and fire up Opera. Then select the new skin in the usual way

The Chelsea skin needs more work, and it's somewhat cluttered for my own browsing tastes. Mainly I wanted to see how it was done, and creating something quite unlike the original makes it easy to spot how the changes flow through the rest of the set-up (for example, there are one or two quirks, such as Scott Parker now being the main icon for all my bookmarks!).

Custom Buttons for Opera
Opera Wiki
Which Buttons are Which?
Everything is Permuted Journal


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