Take Gmail Offline With The Offline Google Mail App [Chrome]

Chris Hoffman 30-04-2012

google offlineOffline Google Mail for Chrome allows you to use Gmail without an Internet connection. Read, search, and send emails – all offline. When you do connect to the Internet, Offline Google Mail synchronizes with your Gmail account, downloading new emails and sending queued messages.


Offline Google Mail replaces the deprecated Google Gears for using Gmail offline. You can also use a desktop email client and access Gmail via IMAP How to Download & Back Up Your Gmail & Other Google Data We’re storing more and more data in the cloud these days. Email, contacts, documents, photos, calendar entries - you name it, it’s on Google’s servers. But what happens when the services we rely on go... Read More , but Offline Google Mail is the only way to use Gmail offline in your browser. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support Firefox or any other browsers at the moment.

Getting Started

After you install the Offline Google Mail app from Google’s Chrome Web Store, it’ll appear on your new tab page in Google Chrome. If you also have the Gmail app for Chrome installed, you’ll now have two different Gmail apps.

google offline

The Offline Google Mail app uses a different interface from the standard Gmail interface you’re used to. It’s based on Gmail’s tablet interface. When you launch it, it will start downloading your emails so you can view them offline. A status message informs you of the download’s progress.

google mail offline


Click the gear icon at the top right corner of the page and you change set a few settings, including how much offline mail to download. Offline Google Mail stores a week’s worth of email by default, but you can have it store up to a month’s worth.

google mail offline

At the moment, the only settings available are the time period to download mail from and vacation responder 6 Little Known, Yet Useful Gmail Tips Read More settings. To change other settings, you’ll have to use the standard Gmail interface while you’re online.

Luckily, the interface does include support for multiple Google accounts How To Enable & Use The New Google Multiple Sign-In Feature Read More , which you can access by clicking your email address at the bottom of the page.


google mail offline

Reading emails, browsing tags, and archiving emails – all these features work offline. Any changes you make, such as sending a message, archiving an email or marking one as read, are synchronized when you next connect to the Internet (as long as Chrome is open).

gmail offline

Background Sync

Offline Google Mail runs as a “background page”, so it can download new email and synchronize changes even if you don’t have its interface open.


gmail offline

What’s more, Offline Google Mail can keep Chrome open in the background, so it can download emails and synchronize changes even if you don’t have Chrome open. If Chrome is set to run in the background, you’ll find its icon in your system tray.

gmail offline

If you don’t see the system tray icon, but you want Offline Google Mail running in the background, you can enable this setting from Chrome’s Under the Hood settings page. Open it by clicking the wrench menu and selecting Settings, and then click Under the Hood and enable the Background Apps check box at the bottom of the page.



Offline Calendar & Docs

If you also use Google Calendar or Google Docs, you can take them offline with you, too. In either Google Calendar or Google Docs, click the gear menu and select the Offline option to get started.

Offline mode in Calendar and Docs works differently from the offline Gmail app. Offline mode adds offline capabilities to the standard Calendar and Docs interfaces, so you can use the familiar interfaces offline without requiring a separate app icon. Unfortunately, both Calendar and Docs offline modes are read-only at the moment.

google offline


The tablet interface has a few drawbacks compared to Gmail’s standard interface. You can’t browse your contacts, for one. Many other features and options are also unavailable, so for anything more than basic email searching, reading, and writing, you’ll have to go online and use the standard interface. Many of Gmail’s keyboard shortcuts GIMP Shortcuts Read More are also missing in action.

To be honest, the implementation of the Offline Google Mail app is a bit weird. While the app’s description advertises a “streamlined user interface based off Gmail’s popular tablet interface” it isn’t clear to me why the offline version of Gmail should have a different interface and a separate app icon. Even if you prefer Gmail’s tablet interface – and some people do – people that don’t shouldn’t be forced to use two different interfaces. It feels as though offline support was bolted on to the tablet interface because it was easier than adding it to the standard Gmail interface. Still, if you want offline support for Gmail and don’t want to use a standalone desktop client, it’s your only option.

For more great Chrome extensions, check out our list of the best Chrome extensions The Best Chrome Extensions A list of only the best extensions for Google Chrome, including suggestions from our readers. Read More .

Do you use Offline Google Mail? Let us know what you think of it in the comments.

Related topics: Gmail, Google Chrome, Offline Browsing.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. natalia robles
    September 8, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    hey gurl how have you been?hope all is me 261-9431

  2. office for mac 2011
    May 9, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Usually I don't learn article on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to check out and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, quite nice article.

  3. domain registration
    May 9, 2012 at 8:32 am

    It's really a nice and helpful piece of information. I'm satisfied that you simply shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  4. tomp
    May 6, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    after writing my comment, and clicking post comment, the comment disappeared,
    leaving my name and email address with a blank comment field. I sthat the way this page works? No feedback to user saying message delivered/ignored?
    please tell me why gmail offline doesnt work, and gets me the following screen?
    (will copy this before clicking your Post Comment button )
    [Broken Link Removed]

    • Chris Hoffman
      May 7, 2012 at 5:00 am

      Comments that include links are moderated to help prevent spam, so that's why your comment disappeared for a while. You should see a "Thanks for your comment" message after posting your comment, even if it disappears for a bit.

  5. tomp
    May 6, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Hello, I've NEVER gotten gmail offline to work. so, reading your post of 5 days ago, i installed gmail offline again in chrome 15.0.974.121 ruinning ubuntu lucid 10.04 LTS. and once again, went offline ( disabled wireless ), opened chrome, opened a blankpage, clicked on the offline gmail icon and am told gmail wont work because its offline. ARRRRGGH! of course i'm offline, thats what gmail offline is supposed to do. work while offline.
    Thers something very wrong here. I've tried to get gmail offline to work for a few years, no lie no exageration. whats up? how do you get it to work while you are offline??? thanks tomp ( screen shot --> [Broken Link Removed] ) thanks

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    May 4, 2012 at 12:46 pm

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  7. MauroC
    May 1, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    is there any plugin or idea to import in gmail the messages and folders from an email account in a client such as thunderbird or outlook?

    • Chris Hoffman
      May 4, 2012 at 12:01 am

      Sure, you can do that.

      First, set up Gmail via IMAP in Thunderbird: //

      Then you can drag and drop messages in Thunderbird to your Gmail account. Thunderbird will upload them to your Gmail account.