Gmail users who wanted to access emails offline had two options up until now. They could use a third-party client like Thunderbird for that to gain offline access, or use a browser extension for the Chrome web browser which added offline capabilities to Google's mail service.
Offline access to your emails gave you access to them regardless of the state of the Internet connection. While offline access is certainly not something that all Gmail users need, some might want to have access to some or even emails all the time.
Google launched a redesign of the web version of Gmail in April 2018; while mostly cosmetic, the company did add some new features to Gmail such as confidential mode, and other new features such as direct access to attachments in mail listings.
One of the new features of the redesigned Gmail is that Gmail users may configure offline access directly on Gmail; a browser extension is no longer required for that.
The main requirement is that users need to run a recent version of Google Chrome as offline mail is not available for other browsers. I did not try and fake the user agent to see if that unlocks offline access in Chromium-based browsers such as Vivaldi or Opera, or even in Firefox or Microsoft Edge.
Here is how you enable offline mail
Gmail lists all available preferences after you enable offline mail. It highlights how much storage space mails use on the device you use and lists the following configuration options:
The actual process that determines which emails become available offline is out of the user's control. Gmail does not get new options after enabling offline email that let you select emails, folders, or labels for offline access.
It seems that anything you look at gets added to the offline cache automatically, though.
A third-party email client is still the better option if you need offline access to Gmail emails as it is not time-limited. Gmail users who use the web interface exclusively and Google Chrome may find the new functionality useful, however.
Now You: Do you use email clients or web interfaces?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.