How To Access & Use Gmail Offline

Sharninder 23-02-2009

Well, not literally, of course, but now you can access Gmail even when you’re offline. The Ninjas over at the Gmail team have created a masterpiece and are inviting you to give their new offering a spin.


Too Dramatic, was it ?

Well, the reason that I’m being so dramatic is that the feature that Google has released this time is one that I’ve been personally waiting for ages and definitely deserves this attention.

The big deal is that you can now access and use Gmail offline, that is without Internet connection. Obviously, you will not be able to send any emails while you’re offline, but atleast you can read them, and any emails that you send during this time will be queued up and delivered the moment you get back online. Anyway you look at it, this is an incredible feature to have.

To be able to access Gmail account offline, you’ll need to first download and [NO LONGER WORKS] install Google Gears. If you’re using Google’s Chrome browser, though, you can relax since Chrome comes with Gears installed by default.

After you have Gears installed, just go to Settings->Labs and enable the Offline feature.


access gmail offline

Gmail should now reload and you will see a new link titled “Offline“ right next to the “Settings“ link in the top right corner of the Gmail window.

Click on Offline and Google Gears will throw a warning at you that some website named is trying to access Gears. Since I was quite sure that it’d harmless, I let the website access Gears and you should probably do the same.

offline gmail warning


At this point, Gmail will begin downloading what it thinks are the most important emails to you. I’m saying “what it thinks” because the Gmail team has a pretty nifty algorithm to determine the emails that it downloads. For me that figure came to “about 3 years” worth of my emails and you might get a different figure, depending on the amount of email that you get.

At any rate, Gears will download about 10000 of your latest emails, not counting the Trash and Spam folder so this should be enough for most of us.

Depending on the speed of your link, this actual process of downloading and syncing emails might take a while and this is probably a good time to have a cup of coffee (or a mug of beer, if that’s what you prefer).

download gmail messages


Gears will also offer to create a shortcut for Gmail on the desktop. With this shortcut, you can login Gmail in offline mode right from your desktop.

offline gmail shortcut

The Offline Gmail feature also includes a very cool Flaky Connection Mode. In this mode, you can continue using Gmail as you normally would and Gmail will automatically determine if you are online or offline, without the user ever knowing about it.

If you send any emails in this mode and you’re offline, Gmail will keep them in the outbox and send them as soon as you come back online, and you’ll never even come to know about your connection status. In my opinion, you should always keep this option checked. To enable the flaky connection mode, click on the Offline Gmail icon next to the Settings link.


flaky connection mode 

This is without any doubt, one of the best things to happen to webmail. With our ever increasing dependence on services based “in the cloud”, the Gmail team has taken the lead in letting the users have access to their data, whether they’re connected to the cloud or not. This, in my opinion, can only be a good thing.

Do you think you ever going to use Gmail in offline mode? Let us know what you guys think of this new feature in the comments. And of course, don’t forget to check out our useful Gmail guide The Power User Guide to Gmail This free Gmail Guide is for those of you who already use Gmail as an email client and want to take maximum advantage of its many productivity features. Read More for power users to learn about even more useful, advanced features in Gmail.

Explore more about: Email Tips, Gmail, Google, Google Chrome, Offline Browsing.

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  1. Nay Minn
    November 21, 2009 at 1:44 am

    hello sir,
    I can't think I don't know how to download all my message in my all mail

  2. ally.
    March 5, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    um, whats POP? can someone please tell me...? thanks! :]
    coz i have 2 accounts too. and idk how i can use offline thing for both... idk if POP helps that though... well, thanks anyways!

  3. Cedric
    February 25, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Chris, There are many POP based email clients which will handle the multiple accounts problem, if that is the issue. That has always been the major advantage of Gmail, in that it does allow POP access for offline use! I've used Gmail offline since it started. The fact that Chrome has built in a substitute, is interesting but not really a significant inovation. I guess it might be useful if you cannot use POP for some reason?

  4. Chris
    February 24, 2009 at 2:37 am

    But Google forgot something important: this feature does not work if you have several gmail accounts :-(

  5. Aibek
    February 24, 2009 at 1:49 am

    I think it's very useful feature to have. One of the main reason I prefer desktop email client is because it gives the opportunity to answer my emails when I am on the move. Now that seems to be possible with Gmail as well.

  6. Michael The Dumb Tech Geek
    February 23, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I'm interested in that Flaky Connection Mode myself. I am 2 floors away from the wireless router in my house. Trying to get that wireless signal can sometimes be a real test of my patience. Not saying I have a ton of HIGH PRIORITY IMPORTANT READ NOW OR DIE emails coming down the lines, but still a good safety precaution.

  7. lizard features
    February 23, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    "....Like almost all other offline web applications, offline Gmail works by creating the equivalent of a relational database on the client PC. The result: a single cross-site scripting (XSS) error or SQL injection vulnerability on the web server is all it takes to gain full access to the contents..."

    • Brainiac
      February 23, 2009 at 3:39 pm

      Thanks for heads up on this

    • Sharninder
      February 24, 2009 at 3:22 am

      I agree with Theregister's article but this has nothing to do with Gears as such. If there is a vulnerability in Gmail, your data can be accessed anyway. The thing with online services is that you have to give your data to a third party and assume that they'll keep it safe.