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"With Opera 3 through 7 these buttons stayed visible while a page was loading, so if, e.g., a page was taking forever to load (I am on dial-up) I could turn images off or to cache-only in order to speed the download. Now, in Opera 8, the address bar - full of page-load stats during loading - expands and those buttons disappear. So to, e.g., stop new images from loading during a page load I have to use a keyboard shortcut or click on View/Images/whatever. I would like the old display behavior to return.
Again, any light anyone can throw on this will be appreciated."
AFAIK... these buttons stay visible all the time if you click the eyeball looking icon found on the upper right hand corner of Opera.
You can also right click in the address bar then select "Customize." Once there select "Tools" and look for "Progress Bar". Out to the right of that you can select how you wish to have progress information shown. You can change it from showing in the address bar to having it shown at the bottom of the browser, etc.