Gmail Goes Offline – In a Good Way

Gmail has been seeing some exciting improvements quicker than ever after the advent of Gmail Labs. The latest being the ability to access Gmail offline even after you have lost your Internet connection!

Gmail Labs was a new feature introduced in Gmail a few months back. It follows the same lifecycle as most Google products which are introduced via Google Labs and then mature as a full featured public versions.

Gmail Labs is where the experimental features in Gmail make their debut. Gmail users can enable/disable any of these features from Settings -> Labs tab in Gmail. At present, there are around 33+ experimental features that you can enable in your Gmail account.

Of all the features, the one introduced today – Offline mode, is the most valuable to those on the move or with spotty Internet connection. Offline Gmail uses Google Gears technology to download a local cache of your mail.

Once you turn on this feature after installing Google Gears,

  • Gmail creates a local cache of your Gmail and keeps it synchronized as long as you have a network connection
  • If you lose your connection, Gmail auto-switches to offline mode
  • You can read messages, label messages, delete and star them just like when you are online
  • You can compose messages and send them and they will be queued in your outbox
  • As soon as you have a connection, Gmail will automatically send the messages in outbox

I usually have a sturdy Internet connection at home and work. So, this is a feature that I won’t be using as much but I can see how useful this could be so useful for those with flaky Internet connections.

Offline Gmail is an experimental feature. So, expect to see bugs but I have to admit most of the Gmail Labs’ features just work fine for me.

Best of Gmail Labs


If you are curious about which of the Gmail Labs features I have turned on in my account, here they are:

  • Quick Links – Amazing feature to create shortcuts to most accessed emails in the sidebar
  • Superstars – I star messages with different icons to distinguish various kinds of messages
  • Custom keyboard shortcuts – Customize Gmail keyboard mappings so it doesn’t interfere with my Firefox shortcuts
  • Right-side chat – Just to keep the left side shorter and to avoid scrolling
  • Default Reply to all – I so often forget to use the ‘Reply to all’ when I am replying to a group message.
  • Quote selected text – great when replying to a long thread
  • Navbar darg and drop – So I can rearrange my sidebar tabs
  • Forgotten attachment Detector – The best of the lot
  • Custom Label Colors – I have around 2 dozen labels colored different!
  • Mark as read button – For those emails you don’t need to read just but mark as read and archive
  • Go to label – g+i to go to Inbox from any screen in Gmail. My favorite shortcut after Shift+#
  • SMS in Chat – I have started to use this so often as its faster to type a SMS message from Gchat than my phone.
  • Send & Archive – Another great feature that should be included
  • Add any gadget by URL – I have the Remember the Milk Gmail gadget added to my sidebar. beats using the Firefox extension.

The Offline Gmail feature is supposedly being rolled out to US & UK Gmail accounts. But, I haven’t seen it in mine yet.  While waiting for it to be enabled, check out some of the best Gmail Greasemonkey scripts that enhance your Gmail 2.0 functionality even more.

If you have it enabled, share your experience with it in the comments.

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32 Responses to “Gmail Goes Offline – In a Good Way”

  1. Kevin@Eiffel Tower Facts January 28, 2009 at 11:08 am #

    Gmail is becoming so innovative. I love it so much.

  2. workhard January 28, 2009 at 2:01 pm #

    Cant wait for it to get started in india too

  3. The Blogger Source January 28, 2009 at 7:18 pm #

    Kinda weird that it took them this long to achieve this.

    The Blogger Sources last blog post..15 Tips To Get More RSS Subscribers

  4. Chris @ PPC Coach January 28, 2009 at 8:48 pm #

    This is an awesome new feature. I’ve actually developed a web app myself using Google gears and it worked great.

    Chriss last blog post..Top 5 Reasons Not To Join PPC Coach

  5. amrita@web hostingdubai January 28, 2009 at 11:48 pm #

    thanks for given such impressive information about gmail really its very important for me.

  6. Lisa@Seo Cart January 29, 2009 at 10:20 am #

    This is really great news! I don’t have a very stable net connection at home, plus I travel a lot and this forced me to use Outlook, which I truly and deeply hate. Now I do realize gmail offline might not be really better than outlook, but I will still be using it :D

  7. Andy@buy mlm leads January 29, 2009 at 8:19 pm #

    I really like the idea of being able to access my mail offline. It will be great to be able to compose messages and then when your connection comes back they get sent automatically I work at a place with an over air connection and the signal is always going away (I think it is when a bird flies by or something).

    Andys last blog post..Best MLM Lead Tips

  8. Jack Clarke@Technology Blog January 30, 2009 at 12:32 am #

    Very good news… when I first signed up for Gmail I never imagined I’d depend on it as much as I do now for my emailing needs.

  9. Steve@trade show guru January 30, 2009 at 1:35 am #

    Hi K,
    Yet another example of why google is #1 (and deserves it).
    I like gmail, but like having a copy offline which is why I still use outlook… now it’ll be easier to think about dumping outlook like I dumped IE for firefox. This is good news. Thanks.
    ~ Steve, the trade show guru

    Steves last blog post..It Snows in the Winter

  10. ajay@logo design contest January 31, 2009 at 12:21 am #

    Hey , thats great news, very interesting.. isn’t it..
    Thanks for that great news.. very impressive post..

  11. Syahid A. January 31, 2009 at 11:53 am #

    Will there be a desktop client next? :D

  12. Anthony@Blog For Money February 1, 2009 at 3:18 am #

    That is kind of cool. I live in the country so my high speed sometimes drops for 10 seconds or more now and then. Quite handy.

    Anthonys last blog post..WidgetBucks Update

  13. Acer Aspire Girl February 1, 2009 at 6:53 am #

    Google is bringing everything online… why to get Gmail offline?
    It’s not making any sense to me!
    I really don’t think it’s the way to go in 2009.


    Acer Aspire Girls last blog post..Aspire One Review – Acer Aspire One LU.S050B.133 8.9-Inch Black Mini Netbook

  14. pick up lines guy February 1, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

    Not gonna try that.
    Looks like full of ….
    Why go offline when everything is going online?

  15. Theo@website laten maken February 2, 2009 at 9:33 am #

    How many longer until every website I surf to on my Windows PC will be owned by Google? Those guys make terrific software which is actually becoming tougher NOT to use in my daily activities (Analytics, Maps, Search, Gmail etc.)

    Theos last blog post..Browser Statistieken van 2008

  16. Freeware Gallery February 2, 2009 at 10:24 am #

    Gmail is going up day by day. I hope gmail has a bright future.

  17. Boris Said February 2, 2009 at 7:41 pm #

    I really like gmail, especially using Gtalk along side of it, I get updates instantly when I receive email :)

    Boris Saids last blog post..Boris Said Daytona 500

  18. khaled @ van leasing February 6, 2009 at 5:16 am #

    Gmail chat is a great feature especially since they introduced the invisible function, so you can stay online even your in a meeting with work and you don’t get pestered, but can still see who is online.

  19. Eren @ summer sun safety February 6, 2009 at 6:52 pm #

    Wow that is really something. Although I believe I would have to spend a week to be able to learn how to use this feature- looks worth it. I’ve also heard of Thunderbird as some kind of software that downloads everything to our desktop. But I haven’t been able to learn how to use it yet. Thanks for the tips on how to use this feature =)

    Erens last blog post..Fresh Homemade Lemonade Recipe: How to Make Lemonade So Great that No One Stops On the First Glass

  20. Zath@Hi Tech Gadgets February 8, 2009 at 10:29 pm #

    This is a really good development for Google Mail, now it’s taking it offline, you;ll be able to work on your email even when away from an internet connection, another step to providing people with part of a Google Operating System?

    I’ve not tested it yet, but this should work really well for me when going to a coffee shop that doesn’t have Internet access – so will stil be able to get stuff done!

    Zaths last blog post..Blackberry Storm 9500 Review (Top Smartphone)

  21. snv@franchising February 9, 2009 at 7:42 am #

    gmail is really becoming so innovative.thanks for this important information…

  22. Jeff @Cleveland Movers February 10, 2009 at 6:36 pm #

    This is a really useful feature, thanks for pointing it out! This might just be the thing that makes me switch from Outlook. I’ll have to try it out tonight.

  23. Pete@fx trading February 12, 2009 at 11:46 am #

    Google grabs a new market? Is this news? :)

    Seriously, Google becomes a monster and has a potential to dominate any niche it steps in, especially in the IT field.

  24. Underarm Sweating February 17, 2009 at 2:18 pm #

    Gmail is the best!
    Its going in one way direction, UP
    What a improvements, do you remember few year ago where we were??

  25. Baseball card boxes February 21, 2009 at 11:06 am #

    This has really done wonders for me, no more having to print emails when I am offline, good job google!

    Baseball card boxess last blog post..So far so good!

  26. Van Leasing April 4, 2009 at 1:28 am #

    I love Gmail. I used to use yahoo before but now i have totally switched over to Gmail. Thanks to google team for their innovative efforts towards google..

  27. Avinash Shetty September 15, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    Excellent articles. Thanks for sharing.!!!

    Mehndi Design Patterns


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