If your Internet habits resemble anything like mine, you probably have 20-plus tabs open at once, maybe multiple windows too, because you want to keep that YouTube playlist or Gmail inbox separate for quicker access. But all that overwhelming digital clutter can keep us glued to our screens anyway. Sometimes the best thing to do is step away from your desk, yet it’s not easy when there are a billion things on our screens to hold our attention. A lesser-used Internet browser, Vivaldi, has its own solution for that, essentially letting you put a pause on the whole thing.
Vivaldi fancies itself the new Opera—a polished alternative browser to the ones made by the biggest companies in tech. That’s quite fitting, because Vivaldi co-founder and CEO Jon von Tetzchner was also the co-founder and CEO of Opera. Vivaldi launched in April 2016, and it’s a Chromium-based browser, which means it supports a lot of the same extensions as Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge. Only its interface is very different—enough so that many Chrome and Edge user interface customizations will not work in Vivaldi.
According to a recent announcement by von Tetzchner, the Internet browser received a few new features, including an interesting “Break Mode” feature, which according to von Tetzchner is a “new way to pause the Internet.”
Instead of minimizing or completely exiting your browser when you want to take a work break, you can click on a special icon in the lower left-hand corner of the browser (or set a custom shortcut command), which turns every tab into a blank slate and stops any videos or music playing on a webpage. It even “erases” your Bookmark lists, Downloads, History, and everything else in your side panel. You can’t interact with anything, aside from closing tabs, until you “unpause” the browser. Handy, if a little different from more traditional tools like Chrome’s Great Suspender or Pause.
Typically, internet pause buttons have to be set up to work within a specific tab on your browser, or a specific site. Vivaldi’s Break Mode will work across the board with less fuss or setup. That’s on purpose, according to von Tetzchner.
“Without a daily change of location and defined office hours, many people have a tough time dividing their personal and professional time,” he said. “Once the browser is paused, you can interact with the physical world – communicate with colleagues or loved ones, make a phone call, jot down those creative ideas on a piece of paper, exercise, take a power nap, or grab a cup of coffee in peace.”
I’ll admit, I’m really bad at stepping away from my computer. My idea of taking a lunch break is firing up the latest The Sims 4 game pack or watching something on Netflix. My brain is still bombarded with icons and images. Definitely not as peaceful as sitting on my patio, watching my hanging succulent plants sway back and forth in the breeze. So, I can see what Vivaldi is attempting to do with this new feature: give users a physiological method of sorts to remind them to take a break. Seeing a blank screen (hopefully) acts as the physical queue to turn your brain off for a little while. It’s little unique features like this that Vivaldi hopes will push us further in the direction of abandoning Chrome altogether. And for me, at least, it’s working.
In addition to this new feature, users can also instantly cut URL addresses in Vivaldi to “rapidly move up directories.” It’s also introduced base domain highlighting for improved security. In other words, if the browser detects that a website might be fake, it will highlight a specific section of it to draw your attention to the fact that you may not be visiting the site you intend.
The update is available now if you’re curious about making a switch.