Using Vivaldi Over Arc

Published: 2023-03-07 09:00 | Updated: 2023-0307 10:25 |

Category: Technology | Tags: vivaldi browser, preferences, comparison, arc browser

I've been bouncing between Arc and Vivaldi as the browser of choice for non-work related Internet things. I think I've finally settled on using Vivaldi as my daily for a couple reasons, but there are some UI elements from Arc that I'm missing in the switch back. Here are some of the things I've changed about my Vivaldi preferences and some I'd like to see improved upon.

Enable workspaces

Enable workspaces in vivaldi:experiments to get a dropdown on your tab bar to switch between spaces. I've started using workspaces in Google to manage projects and I find they're easier to manage than having different profiles to switch between. I still need to map specific workspaces to custom shortcuts.

Move tabs to vertical

Horizontal real estate is good, but vertical space is more limiting on my main work machine. Clive Thompson has a good post on switching to vertical tabs. Vivaldi makes it easy to switch to vertical and they were default in Arc.

One thing I miss from Arc is the ability to have a floating tab bar. Meaning, when the mouse wasn't in the left-hand side of the screen, the tab bar moved away. It gave the entire screen to the browser window, which felt luxurious. In Vivaldi, I have Ctrl+Cmd+Opt+B (using Karabiner-Elements to turn my Caps Lock key into an all-modifier key) to toggle the bookmarks bar on and off, but I miss the gesture. I also wish it floated. Right now, when I toggle the tab bar, all of the content shifts to account for the new space.

To mimic the gesture, I set a custom mouse gesture to show the tab bar when I hold option and move my mouse to the left. It's not perfect, but my muscle memory should pick it up soon enough.

Address bar in the tab bar

This one is harder. I would love it the address bar could be moved to the top of the tab bar. I get the argument for always having it visible to ensure you're on the page/domain you think you're on, but I miss the clean look of not having anything at the top of the page.

Granted, this also adds complexity around where to put browser extensions, and Arc solved that with floating buttons which activated when you're mouse was in the top right. It wasn't ideal beacuse I couldn't always hit that small activation area accurately, but that's not a big deal in the long run. My guess is that I'll get over the address bar issue pretty quickly.

Automatic ad skipping

Arc has uBlock Origin installed by default (easy to solve in Vivaldi) but it would also automatically skip ads on streaming services, which was incredible. I have a small (hacky) ad-blocker for Spotify that I might put an hour into to improve to get that behavior back. Right now, the tab is simply muted if a class is detected on the player element on the page. With a little work, I could grab the audio element and set the time to it's max to get the same result.

I'm dumb and didn't realize that uBlock Origin was actually what did the skipping in Arc. So, this is a non-issue.

Modify the command palette priorities

Arc used Cmd+T to open all commands, which was great for muscle memory. Vivaldi has Cmd+E linked to the command palette launcher, so the muscle memory won't be too bad to adjust. What I did change was the priority of items in the command window. Instead of the default, I now have:

  1. Open Tabs to keep the tab bar closed more often than open
  2. Workspaces to quickly get to one place or another based on what I'm doing
  3. Extensions to launch an extension from the keyboard rather than moving to the mouse

These small changes help keep my hands on the keyboard, which allows me to work faster.

Productivity matters more

In the end, Vivaldi runs on all of my machines while Arc only lives on the Mac. The experience feels like a Mac app - smooth transitions and nice UI elements and there are other features of Arc that I didn't really get into using (page boosts and easles in particular) and maybe I would stick around if I had more of an idea about how to use them well.

The biggest dealbreaker after several weeks was the laptop-to-mobile experience. The productivity lost trying to find and reopen tabs on my phone was too much. Once the mobile space is finished with Arc, I'll give it another shot.

Comments are always open. You can get in touch by sending me an email at