Offline Gmail Buzz - gHacks Tech News

Offline Gmail Buzz

It seems that the experimental Gmail application that is available for US and UK Gmail users has been creating some buzz on the Internet. It basically allows users to use Gmail while they are offline, meaning not connected to the Internet. It makes use of Google Gears and can be activated in the Gmail interface by clicking on Settings and then the Labs section. Once activated a local copy of the mail folders will be stored on the computer which will be accessed whenever there is no Internet connection. The user can access all mails received or send and compose new mails. The changes will be synchronized with Gmail once the Internet connection becomes available again.

Offline Gmail is an interesting option for users who do not want to (or cannot) install a desktop client on their computer. Everyone else is probably better of using desktop clients like Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook or The Bat which provide many advanced features and usage scenarios that web email clients do not offer.

offline gmail

It should also be noted that Google Gears has to be installed on the computer to make use of the offline Gmail extension. Google Gears is currently only available for Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Is the buzz about the new experimental Gmail feature justified? It is highly limited at this point in time and does not come with any features that cannot be achieved otherwise. It might be nice for users who like to use Gmail and do not want the troubles of installing a desktop email client. What's your take on it?

Update: Google Gears has been discontinued. Users of the Chrome web browser have a new option to access their Google mails offline. The Chrome app synchronizes Gmail messages with offline storage so that the emails can be accessed without Internet connection.

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    1. Imran Hussain said on January 29, 2009 at 1:54 pm

      you didn’t mention that Google Chrome has Gears built right in. And it also provides speedier loading times for Google services when compared to other browsers, so Google Chrome + Gmail is a great combination here for both online and offline access.

    2. whatever said on January 29, 2009 at 3:08 pm

      I think I’ll stick with Thunderbird for now, but it’s interesting.
      On another note, probably not related to this feature, but my GMail for domains account just got the new template that came when themes were added. No themes tab (yet) though… :-(

    3. RG said on January 29, 2009 at 7:10 pm

      Gears is sort of the inverse of Microsoft’s much maligned lack of internet focus, especially pre-Live days. Both have potential in their own way. Even with my poor dsl I still don’t see much use for “which will be accessed whenever there is no Internet connection” but with more features and possibilities there is promise.

    4. gokudomatic said on January 29, 2009 at 7:14 pm

      I also prefer Sylpheed.

    5. Robert Palmar said on January 29, 2009 at 11:07 pm

      I agree with your take, Martin.
      This is much ado about almost nothing.

      A desktop client offers more features without
      having Google software installed locally
      which as a rule I always avoid.

    6. Rico said on January 29, 2009 at 11:27 pm

      For machines where you can’t or don’t want to install an email client, you now have offline access to your emails in the same manner as a dedicated client. It’s another step to Google’s edging out the need for outside software and increasing dependence on browser-based software.

      i’m assuming this works on Android, where it could *reall* be useful, particularly in areas of sparse or slow data coverage.

    7. vatzec said on January 30, 2009 at 2:20 am

      So, people are amazed by the fact that you can *read e-mails offline*? Come on, that was invented ages ago and is called POP3!

      1. Martin said on January 30, 2009 at 10:37 am

        They are more amazed by the fact that they can now access Gmail in their web browser even if they are offline.

    8. vatzec said on January 30, 2009 at 10:39 am

      Oh, okay, but I don’t really encourage accessing your e-mail from within your browser.

    9. Ajay D'Souza said on February 1, 2009 at 11:30 am

      Finally something to prevent that stupid Gmail message saying the page isn’t loaded.

      Though, the real test comes on my stupid connection

    10. sahil said on May 2, 2010 at 7:25 am

      open this

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