Configure Gmail offline mail

Martin Brinkmann
May 14, 2018
Email, Gmail

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.

Gmail offline use

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

enable gmail offline emails

  1. Open the Gmail website.
  2. Click on the cogwheel icon and select Settings.
  3. Select offline from the available options on the Settings page.
  4. Tip: you can open directly as well to open the offline page of the settings right away.
  5. Check the "enable offline mail" preference to unlock offline mail access.

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:

  • Change the storage period from 30 days to 7 or 90 days.
  • Decide whether you want attachments to be downloaded as well so that they are accessible offline.
  • Select the "after logging out" setting to decide whether to keep offline data on the computer or have it removed automatically.

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.

Closing Words

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?


Configure Gmail offline mail
Article Name
Configure Gmail offline mail
Find out how to configure Gmail for offline mail use so that you may access emails without Internet connection; the feature works natively in Google Chrome only at the time.
Ghacks Technology News

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Anonymous said on May 15, 2018 at 4:59 am

    “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.”

    Wow such a lazy article for tech review site. I read from other tech sites which said it’s because Chrome is using non web standard technology to read how pages are cached.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 15, 2018 at 6:50 am

      The scope of the article was not to test the new feature in other browsers.

  2. mikef90000 said on May 15, 2018 at 12:25 am

    So, is this a disguised / proprietary version of IMAP?
    Anyone know what’s under the kimono so to speak?

  3. ilev said on May 14, 2018 at 9:57 am

    While you are presented with : ‘Enable offline mail’, I get ‘Install Gmail Offline’.

    Chrome Version 67.0.3396.40 (Official Build) beta (64-bit)

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 14, 2018 at 2:45 pm

      Maybe it is being rolled out? Would not surprise me if that would be the case.

  4. Pau(us) said on May 14, 2018 at 9:14 am

    I am still using the “old” (“But still feeling pretty new!”) fashioned way the (installer) email client.
    I am not an early user from the early 1960s but from the not so early 1908s.
    And since then the (installer) email (The program settings configurations) client became over time, much friendlier to use.

    I am still using an (installer) email client for a desktop because I have noticed that on even laptop but most even more surely on tablet and phone, I am getting not the best result.
    With the best result, I am meaning that on both sides (being reading and writing) concentration wise, correction wise, structure building wise, clarity, etc. etc..
    Not even a Magna Cum Laude result and never a Summa Cum Laude result for me, with something else than an email client I have noticed over the decades.

    So still the old fashiond way for me and choces enough I schould say:

  5. prasad said on January 11, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Wow. thats amazing. didnt know.

  6. Neil Parks said on March 15, 2012 at 6:31 am

    This is nothing new. Any good IMAP client such as Thunderbird can do the same thing.

  7. SuilAmhain said on March 14, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Google gears was amazing. I miss it. But progress I suppose.

  8. Anonymous said on October 3, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    This definitely sucks big time! Fortunately it is possible to install Thunderbird to access GMail and thus have an option to read GMail offline…

  9. Adam said on September 23, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    As a heavy Gmail Offline user on FireFox, this change really angers me. I’ve been stuck using an outdated version of FireFox for months, since Google abandoned Gears. All the time waiting for some movement on the promised HTML5-compatible offline solution. And now, adding insult to injury, Google finally returns with a solution that won’t even work in the newer versions of other browsers? Thanks, Google, for wasting my time. This sucks.

  10. Alucai Vivorvel said on September 20, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Well, I use Chrome mostly, anyways. But, I sometimes switch back and forth between Opera and Chrome, so it’s a pain when Docs and GMail won’t work properly. (Usually no problems with the latter, but syncing with Opera’s Mail server is sometimes finicky.)

  11. RMR said on September 10, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    I use Opera, so that’s no new for me. Gmail sometimes don’t work with Opera, WLmail works with opera but the other services from Live such the calendar, skydrive… doesn’t do.

    That’s is the reason I don’t like Google.

    1. Alucai Vivorvel said on September 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm

      You DO know that Live is from Microsoft, right? The wording of your post makes it look like you believe Live is from Google.

  12. Robert Palmar said on September 8, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    The lack of offline editing makes this pointless to me.
    As for Chrome only that is typical of Google these days.
    Pissing off users of other browsers is not good marketing.

  13. Leland said on September 8, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    This just goes to show why Google is being investigated by the government for abusing monopoly power. It also seems to go against the mantra of “do no evil”. I still find their services useful but Google Chrome is just not quite my style. I would like to see these features offered to all browser users the same way Microsoft was forced to offer the browser ballot screen in Windows.

  14. Ken Saunders said on September 8, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    It’s total ****. Seriously. How many Firefox and IE users are there combined that uses Google’s services. Far more than Chrome users. Of course it’s a push to get people to Chrome, but it’s also a push full a total monopoly on services. Search, docs, email, calendar, and so on.

    They will find themselves in court more than MS ever was.

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

    open this

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

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

    I also prefer Sylpheed.

  22. 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.

  23. 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… :-(

  24. 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.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.