Software

How to use Gmail offline

Google has added offline access to Gmail. Here's how to enable this new feature.

In a hurry? Here's a quick summary of the steps to enabling Gmail offline access:
  • Log in to your Gmail account.
  • Click on the gear icon to open the Gmail menu, then click Settings.
  • Under Settings find Offline. Click on it.
  • In the Offline menu, click Enable Offline Email.
  • Choose how many days to sync, and whether to keep or remove cached email when signing out of a Gmail account.
  • Click Save Changes and you're done.
  • Give Gmail some time to download messages, and be sure you have Gmail open in Chrome before going offline.

Google has finally given Gmail users something they've been asking for: the ability to use Gmail offline.

Now you can sync messages, read them, and compose new ones all while disconnected from the internet. It's a feature sure to please business professionals traveling with a laptop, or those who are frequently on the go and without reliable internet.

There are a few conditions for Gmail users that may disqualify them from using the new offline mode:

  • If you aren't using the new Gmail interface that launched in late April 2018 you have to rely on the old Chrome extension Google released for offline Gmail, and it's a bit of a hassle.
  • It's only available in Chrome.
  • G Suite users can't enable offline Gmail on their own—an administrator has to do it.
  • Offline users are limited to storage space available to Chrome, which Google said is usually only a fraction of the total free space on a drive. If you plan to save a lot of email you may be pushing that limit.

How to enable Gmail offline in Chrome

If you're using the new Gmail (you can switch to it by clicking the icon below your user portrait and then clicking Try The New Gmail) and haven't run afoul of the other conditions mentioned above you're ready to enable offline mode. Here's how.

Click on the gear icon below your user portrait. On the menu that pops up click on Settings (Figure A).

screen-shot-2018-05-16-at-10-11-44-am.png

Figure A

Image: Brandon Vigliarolo/TechRepublic

On the Settings screen (Figure B) click Offline.

screen-shot-2018-05-16-at-10-11-56-am.png

Figure B

Image: Brandon Vigliarolo/TechRepublic

On the Offline menu click Enable Offline Mail and you'll see a screen with several options on it (Figure C). Here you can choose how much email to sync, whether to download attachments, and how to store offline mail when you sign out of a Gmail account synced for offline storage.

screen-shot-2018-05-16-at-10-13-31-am.png

Figure C

Image: Brandon Vigliarolo/TechRepublic

Anyone who shares their computer with family members or coworkers should choose to delete synced messages when an account is signed out. If left behind, cached emails could be a serious security risk.

SEE: Google Drive: Tips and tricks for business professionals (Tech Pro Research)

Once you've chosen how you want to set up your offline sync click Save Changes, but don't close out of Chrome yet! Gmail is going to need some time to download all those messages.

In order to use Gmail offline you'll need to open a Gmail tab in Chrome while connected and leave it open while you go offline—you won't be able to access Gmail if it isn't already loaded before you disconnect from the internet.

Removing stored messages and disabling Gmail offline

Disabling Gmail offline and deleting stored messages is a simple process.

To disable Gmail offline simply go back to the Offline page in the Settings menu and clear the Enable Offline Mail check box.

To delete stored email clear your internet history with the option to delete Cookies And Other Site Data checked (Figure D). You can find this option by opening the Chrome Settings menu, scrolling down to Advanced, and then clicking on the Clear Browsing Data menu item.

screen-shot-2018-05-16-at-10-40-58-am.png

Figure D

Image: Brandon Vigliarolo/TechRepublic

Also see

About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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