If you don’t have an Internet connection and you need to read or write emails on your Chromebook (or Chrome web browser), then you’ll be glad to hear you can use Gmail offline.
Of course, this only works with the Gmail application. And if you’re offline, the app is made specifically for that.
You may be on-the-go without Internet in a public bus, or maybe in a restaurant that’s less-than-modern.
Either way, Gmail has an offline app that lets you use Gmail Offline until you get an Internet connection. You can do almost everything you usually do when you access Gmail offline, so you can stay productive offline.
I wrote this brief guide on how to set everything up so you can use Gmail offline, online, or in-between.
Last updated: 1/25/21. The extension is no longer necessary as this feature is built into Gmail. Read below for directions.
How to use Gmail offline
- Difficulty: Very easy.
- Tools needed: Gmail Offline application.
- Skills required: None.
Let’s get started.
Note that this guide is written in a way that’s biased towards Chromebooks, but it’ll work on any Chrome web browser.
Update: In 2021, this feature can be accessed with built-in Gmail settings. You can still use an extension to show new emails right in the Chrome browser, but offline usage is a freebie and can be done without one.
Consider turning on desktop notifications for new emails as well, so you can read and reply right away if you want. This makes a small toast popup notification show up when your inbox receives any new messages in real time.
If you don’t have a Chromebook, this guide works fine. You just need to make some adjustments such as searching for the Gmail Offline app instead of using the Search key which a Chromebook would have. You don’t need to have a Chromebook for this to work.
Step 1: Install the Gmail Offline app for Chrome
Use the Search key and type in “Gmail Offline” or just go to the Chrome web store and search for it. Download it and it’ll add itself to your Chromebook.
Get Gmail Offline here.
Yes, this video is dated. But the process is the same.
The Gmail Offline application allows you to read emails offline, respond to emails offline, and even search for emails offline without having any Internet connection available- whether 3G, 4G, 5G, WiFi, or your coworker’s hotspot.
Update: The Chrome Web Store no longer has the extension as it’s been canceled. Gmail Offline has been discontinued. The feature is now built into the Chrome Browser. You can enable it by going to your Gmail account, then Settings > Offline > Enable offline.
You’ll then be able to read and reply to emails without an active connection to the ‘net!
Step 2: Launch the Gmail Offline app
As soon as you launch Gmail Offline (you need to be online to do this), Gmail Offline will sync your emails.
Make sure you also select “allow offline mail” when it asks you to make a selection. Then it’ll start syncing.
What it’s doing is grabbing all your emails from your online Gmail inbox, sent, and other folders and syncing them to your Gmail Offline app. It’ll sync up to a month’s worth of emails, and any Starred emails.
Let it sync everything up.
You may notice that this interface of Gmail is slightly different than your typical Gmail online. This is to distinguish the differences and to let you know which version you’re using. If you’re seeing a new version, then you’re using Gmail Offline and you don’t need any Internet connection.
Step 3: Turn off your WiFi to test, access, and use Gmail Offline
You can now test it out:
- Turn off your WiFi connection on your Chromebook.
- Click the account picture at the bottom right.
- Click on “WiFi” and disconnect/disable it. If you’re online, you’ll see the regular version of Gmail you typically see. When you go offline and lose your Internet connection, you’ll see the new version of Gmail- which is Gmail Offline.
Try typing up an email and sending it. It should send when you connect again. Pretty cool.
It’ll look slightly different than your typical Gmail inbox. Nothing to be alarmed over. It’s Google’s way of telling you you’re offline and you’re using Gmail Offline. When you get an Internet connection, it’ll change back to what you’re used to seeing- the themed Gmail inbox you frequently access.
Use Gmail offline and access your email from anywhere
If you see it, you’re all set.
You can now use Gmail Offline. Try typing an email. Try searching for an email. Try reading an email. It should all work assuming the emails have been synced. You should also be able to see all your Starred emails that you marked important.
So, now that you’ve set up your Chromebook to use Gmail Offline. Here’s a little more information about how it works.
When Gmail Offline syncs with your online Gmail folders, it basically pulls those into Gmail Offline. When you need to access the emails or search for them or send them, the app will basically just show you a “cached” or “saved” version that it synced earlier when you last had an Internet connection.
Read, send, and reply to emails with Gmail Offline
Now, when you’re offline, you can still read, write, send, search, and Star because Gmail Offline will basically save all these actions you took, and then execute them as soon as you gain an Internet connection.
It’s important to know that all the actions you take while you’re offline and using Gmail aren’t actually happening. You won’t actually send that email you wrote while you were offline until you get an Internet connection on your Chromebook again.
So, if you type up an important email and you send it, remember that it’s not actually sent. It’s queued and ready to send when you’re online.
Now you can access your Gmail offline from anywhere without the Internet
That’s about it. Simple as that.
Hopefully, this guide to getting familiar with Gmail Offline helps out.
I think it’s amazingly innovative to be able to use your email offline, let alone search for emails. As of now, using your Gmail offline is only available on Chrome-powered devices, such as Chrome web browser or Chromebooks.
This is actually one of the features that I think is well overlooked, as there are many people that travel from place-to-place and have no Internet Connection, or a connection that constantly changes. Instead of using a traditional Windows PC, grabbing a Chromebook instead may be the right choice if this is you.
With the ability to use your email offline, which is just a single benefit out of many Chromebook benefits, it could prove itself handy. Maybe you’re at the bus stop and typing up a storm, then you board the bus and it has no WiFi connection.
Have no fear, with Gmail Offline on your Chromebook, you can continue typing and then queue it. When you get to work, connect to the Internet and it’ll send. Like magic. The first step is to install the Gmail Offline application.