Anyone who deals with emails knows that processing emails require an active internet connection. A spotty internet connection could leave you with limited or even no access to your emails. What if you could set up Gmail offline and access all your emails without internet?
It would be a real boon, especially when you’re traveling or taking a flight. Fortunately, if you use Gmail, you’re in luck. Today, let’s see how you can setup and use Gmail offline.
Read This Before You Start
As you may have guessed, Gmail Offline can be used only with Google Chrome. You should never set it up on public or shared computers as the emails are stored in your browser’s storage. For some reason, if you have to, remember to delete the app when you’re done as detailed in a later section.
Obviously, you need a working internet connection to set it up first before you can start using it offline. Once you set it up, you can browse through your emails, search, archive, or delete them. You can even compose emails and queue them and they’ll be sent as soon as an internet connection is available.
Now that you are familiar with the basics, here’s how you can get started.
How to Start Using Gmail Offline
Get the Gmail Offline App
Open the Gmail Offline app in the Chrome Web Store. Click Add to Chrome > Add app. Next, type chrome://apps in the address bar and hit enter. Find and open Gmail Offline.
Enable Gmail Offline
The first time you open the app, you will be asked to allow offline mail as shown below.
Select Allow Offline mail and click Continue. It will now begin syncing your emails for offline use.
Configure Gmail Offline
By default, emails from only the past week are synced. If you’d like to sync older emails, click the gear-shaped Settings icon at the top-right of the screen. You can select to download emails from the past week, 2 weeks, or a month. Click Apply to save changes.
In the same settings pane, you can choose to set up a Vacation Responder. It is an auto-response message you can send out as a reply to any incoming email. This lets you notify people that you are currently away from the internet and might take a while to get back to them.
Since you’re using Gmail Offline, there’s a good chance that you do not have access to the internet. In such case, it’s a good idea to setup Vacation Responder. Here’s how you do it:
- Toggle the Vacation Responder switch to the ON position.
- Specify a Start date and an End date. The auto-response message will be sent out as a reply to incoming emails automatically during this period.
- Enter a Subject and a Message.
- Enable Only send a response to people in my Contacts.
- Click Apply to save the changes.
How to Access and Use Gmail Offline
To open the Gmail Offline app, type chrome://apps in the address bar. Find and click Gmail Offline. Alternatively, you can drag the icon to the Bookmarks bar to pin it for faster access. (Remember to keep Chrome’s Bookmarks bar organized, though!)
The Gmail Offline app’s interface is based on Gmail’s tablet interface. The interface features a dual-pane setup. The left pane lists all the incoming emails. To access other folders, click the menu button (three horizontal lines) on the top-left. Here, you can check your Sent Mail, Drafts, Trash, Spam or filter your emails using Labels.
To search your emails, simply type in your search query in the Search bar and hit Enter. The Gmail Offline app strips a lot of Gmail’s functionality, but fortunately, you can still use Gmail’s advanced search operators to narrow down your search.
To compose a new email, click the Red Compose icon. After you type the message and enter the recipient’s email address, hit Send. The message should now be queued up in the Outbox folder. The email will be sent out as soon as your computer is connected to the internet.
The right pane displays the content of the message that you select in the left pane. To Reply or Forward a message, scroll to the bottom of the message. Here, click Reply to reply to the sender, or click Forward to forward the email.
You can Archive or Delete a particular email using the buttons on the top-bar. To view additional options, click the small arrow-down icon beside the Delete button. Here, you can choose to move the email to a folder, assign a label, mute, report spam, etc.
If you’d like to process multiple emails at once, select the emails using the checkbox provided beside them. Click Archive or Delete. Any actions you perform will be synced with Gmail once your computer connects to the internet.
How to Delete Gmail Offline
Removing the Gmail Offline app from Chrome is a two-step process. The first step is to remove all the locally-stored data. To do so, click the menu button (three vertical dots) in Chrome. Click Settings.
Scroll to the bottom and click Advanced. Navigate to Content Settings > Cookies > See all cookies and site data > Remove all. A confirmation dialog box will pop-up. Click Clear all to confirm.
Now that you’ve cleared the saved data, you can proceed to delete the Gmail Offline app. To do so, type chrome://apps in the address bar. Right-click Gmail Offline and click Remove from Chrome.
Limitations of Gmail Offline
One obvious downside is that Gmail Offline requires Google Chrome to work. While Chrome might be the choice of a majority of users, there are a lot of great browsers out there.
Also, Chrome has to be open at all times to sync all emails. It’s no secret that Chrome can severely hog up the available system resources, especially on a Mac.
Perhaps one alternative that non-Chrome users can use to browse Gmail offline is to set up an email client to use Gmail. Desktop email clients can download your emails locally, enabling you to take actions on them while you’re offline. If you are looking for some great email clients, here’s our list of best desktop emails clients.
Gmail Offline is a stripped-down version of Gmail’ so it does not have all its features. The maximum attachment size for a single attachment is just 5MB as opposed to standard Gmail interface’s 25MB. However, you can attach multiple attachments up to 25MB in a single message. Keyboard shortcuts in Gmail can help you navigate faster, but the Offline version doesn’t support them. Also, you miss out on some essential Gmail Lab features that can help you increase productivity.
No Internet? No Problem
While the feature set of Gmail Offline is certainly limited, it does one thing really well: lets users manage their Gmail messages offline. Whether you’re on a flight or you’re at a beach with no internet, you can always deal with your emails and save yourself some time.
Have you set up Gmail Offline? How has your experience been like? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
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