The Gmail website is a great way to access your emails on your computer, there’s no setup to do, there are heaps of helpful features, and it all just works… When you’re connected to the internet that is. When you’re offline, it can be a bit more challenging.
But, as it turns out, you can actually use the Gmail website offline without an internet connection. Obviously, you can’t send and receive emails or anything like that. But you can read all your existing emails, sort them out into different folders, write draft emails, and more!
The only catch is, you need to enable offline Gmail on your computer while you’re connected to the internet so that it has a chance to download all your emails. But don’t worry, because in this article, that’s exactly what I’m going to show you how to do.
Prefer to watch a video about how to use Gmail offline? Click here.
How To Enable Gmail Offline
To enable Gmail offline so that you’ll be ready to use it when there’s no internet, you will need to be using the Google Chrome web browser if you aren’t already.
Unfortunately, this won’t work in Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari, or any other browser, you will need to be using Chrome, but it’s free to install and it’s a great browser anyway so just click here to install it if you haven’t already.
Then, in Chrome, while you’re computer is still connected to the internet, open up Gmail…
And then, click on the settings icon in the top right hand corner…
And click the “See all settings” button in the menu that appears to go to Gmail’s settings.
Once you’re in settings, you’ll need to click on the “Offline” tab in the menu across the top of the screen.
Now, you’ll need to tick the box that says “Enable offline mail”…
And you’ll get a whole lot of settings to choose about how you want Gmail to download your emails. Next to where it says “Sync settings”, you’ll need to choose the number of days worth of emails you want to download.
I prefer to leave it set to 30, because that means you will be able to access any emails you received in the last 30 days when you’re offline.
But if your computer doesn’t have much free space on it, you might want to lower it to 7 days so that you’ll have a week’s worth of emails stored offline. Or, if you want to download as many emails as possible, you might want to set it to 90 days which would mean it downloads every email you received in the last 90 days.
Once you’ve chosen how many days worth of emails you want to have saved offline, you can also choose whether or not you want to download the attachments. I would probably recommend downloading the attachments so that you have them there if you need them, but this can take up quite a bit of extra space if you receive a lot of attachments.
And the last option you will need to choose is what will happen if you ever log out of your Google account. If, when you log out of your Google account, you want all your emails to remain on the computer so that they won’t have to re-sync when you sign in again, you can choose the first opinion (Keep offline data on my computer).
But, if you want all your emails to be removed from your computer if you sign out of your Google account, you’ll want to choose the second option (Remove offline data from my computer). Just keep in mind, if you chose this option, and sign out of your Google account and sign back in again, everything will have to re-sync.
It doesn’t matter too much which option you choose, because, really, how often (if ever) do you log out of your Google account? So I’m just going to choose the second option (Remove offline data from my computer).
And then, when you’re done with that, click the “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the screen to save the changes.
Now, Gmail will reload, and it will begin syncing all your recent emails to the computer. And while it’s doing that, you will see this popup message recommending that you create a bookmark:
The reason for this is because, while Gmail will now work offline (after it finishes syncing) the way you normally get to Gmail might still require internet access. But using a bookmark does not require internet access which is why they recommend you do it.
You don’t have to do this if you just leave the Gmail tab open on your computer all the time or you have some other way of accessing Gmail that doesn’t require internet. But I think adding a bookmark is a good idea.
To add a bookmark to Gmail, all you need to do is use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + D on Windows and Chrome OS or Command + D on a Mac while you’re currently in the Gmail tab.
And you’ll see a popup message in the top right hand corner of the screen saying “Bookmark added”, and you’ll just need to click “Done”.
Now, whenever you open a new tab in Chrome, (even if you’re not connected to the internet), you’ll have a Gmail bookmark somewhere across the top of the screen that will say “Inbox” followed by the start of your email address. And you can just click on that bookmark to access Gmail (even when you’re offline).
Now, whether or not you chose to create the bookmark, you’ll just need to click “Got it” on the popup in Gmail to make it go away.
And now, all you have to do is wait for a tick icon to show up like this:
It may take quite a while if you have a lot of emails or a slow internet connection, but once the tick shows up, that means all your emails from the time period you selected have been downloaded to your computer. So, once you see that tick, you’re ready to use Gmail offline.
How To Use Gmail Offline
Once you’ve enabled Gmail offline using the steps above and everything has synced to your computer, using Gmail without an internet connection is really as simple as using it with an internet connection.
If you don’t already have Gmail open, you’ll just need to click on the bookmark we saved earlier to open it up.
And then, Gmail will load just like normal! Well, not quite like normal, you will have a popup message in the bottom left hand corner warning you that you’re offline, and the tick mark will turn into an exclamation mark in a circle to warn you that your emails won’t be syncing to the cloud. And some of the features will be unavailable.
But for the main, it will be the same, all your emails within the time period you selected will be there, and you’ll be able to open them.
And you can move the emails into different folders, delete them, mark them as read/unread, and all kinds of stuff like that. These changes won’t sync with your account until you’re computer connects to the internet again, but it means you can organize your inbox while you’re offline, and then it will all sync up again when you’re online.
You can even reply to emails and send new emails! But obviously, the emails won’t actually send until your back online. If you try to send an email while you’re offline, it will go into the outbox folder and send it when you’re computer is back online.
Obviously, you also won’t be able to receive any new emails while you’re offline, but while you’re online, your computer will always automatically download any new emails that arrive, so most of your new emails should be there.
One thing I would recommend is if you are planning to use Gmail offline, open Gmail on your computer while you’re still connected to the internet as close as possible to when you’re going to be using it offline to allow it to sync and download all your most recent emails before you lose the connection.
And then, after you’ve used Gmail offline, next time you’re online, open Gmail on your computer and leave it open for a few minutes to give it a chance to send any emails that are in the outbox and sync any changes you made.
And that’s all there is to it! With a bit of forward planning, you can use Gmail offline quite easily!
So whether you’re going on a plane that doesn’t have wifi, spending time in a remote location with no phone reception, or you just want to use Gmail in a public place without having to use public wifi or tether your laptop to your phone, now you can.