How to Access Gmail Offline in Your Browser

Make sure "Enable Offline Mail for this computer" is selected

Lifewire / Heinz Tschabitscher

Gmail can be used without an internet connection if you enable the Gmail Offline feature.

Gmail Offline is handled entirely in your web browser, letting you search through, read, delete, label, and even respond to email without an internet connection, like if you're on a plane, in a tunnel, or camping out away from cell phone service.

Once your computer connects to a working network, any emails you've queued up to send, will be sent, and new emails will be downloaded or changed just as you requested them to be when offline.

How to Enable Gmail Offline

It's pretty simple to configure Gmail Offline but it's only available through the Google Chrome web browser, which works with Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chromebooks.

You can't just open Gmail once you're offline and expect that to work. You have to set it up while you have an active internet connection. Then, whenever you lose the connection, you can be confident that offline Gmail will work.

  1. Install the Google Offline extension for Google Chrome. 

  2. Once the app is installed, go to the same extension page and click VISIT WEBSITE.

  3. In that new window, authorize the extension to access your mail by choosing the Allow offline mail radio button.

  4. Click Continue to open Gmail in offline mode.

    Gmail looks a bit different in offline mode but it functions in basically the same way as regular Gmail.

    To open Gmail when you're offline, go into your Chrome apps through the chrome://apps/ URL, and choose the Gmail icon.

    See Google's instructions for uninstalling Gmail Offline if you no longer wish to use it.

    You can also use Gmail Offline for your domain. Follow that link for Google's instructions.

    Specify How Much Data to Keep Offline

    By default, Gmail will only keep a week's worth of email for offline use. This means you can only search through a week's worth of messages without an internet connection.

    Here's how to change that setting:

  5. With Gmail Offline open, click Settings (the gear icon).

  6. Pick a different option from the Download mail from past drop-down menu. You can pick between week, 2 weeks, and month.

  7. Click Apply to save the changes.

On a Shared or Public Computer? Delete the Cache

Gmail Offline is clearly very beneficial, and can even be useful temporarily. However, someone else can potentially have access to your entire Gmail account if your computer is left unattended.

Make sure you delete the offline Gmail cache when you're done using Gmail on a public computer.

How to Use Gmail Offline Without Chrome

To access Gmail offline without Google Chrome, you can use an email client. When an email program is installed with the proper SMTP and POP3 or IMAP server settings configured, all your messages are downloaded to your computer.

Since they're no longer being pulled from Gmail's servers, you can read, search, and queue new Gmail messages even while offline.