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Google Launches Gmail Offline

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 12 comments

It’s about time. Google has officially rolled out Gmail Offline, allowing users to read and compose mail even while they’re not connected to the internet.

Another gem is coming to us from Google Labs. While Labs has seen its fair share of so-so products (the beer goggles thing?), this one is top of the bill and will probably make it out of Labs and graduate to a full feature pretty quick.

As detailed in the announcement today via the official Gmail blog, once you switch on Gmail Offline (as usual it’s in the labs tab under settings) Gmail uses Google Gears to download a local cache of your mail. When you’re connected to the web, Gmail works the same way it always has by making chit-chat with the Gmail servers. If you drop your connection, Gmail will switch to offline mode and use the information stored in the cache to allow you to keep doing all things Gmail. As soon as your signal comes back, all messaged saved to your outbox will be sent and you’ll be back in business with the Gmail servers.

This is something I’ve been waiting a long time. Working remotely is no picnic and those trans-Atlantic flights are a great time to answer emails and sort my inbox into something that resembles organized chaos.

Offline is being switched on for English UK and English U.S. users. If you don’t see it in Labs straight away, hold your horses and just chill for a bit -- you should see it over the next couple of days. Don’t forget to let us know what you think!

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  • -2 Hide
    tayb , January 28, 2009 8:55 PM
    Um... I have been able to do this with Windows Live Mail for quite a while now. I can respond to any number of messages and they will all be sent as soon as I re-connect to the internet. This isn't a new feature and certainly not a masterpiece invention from the google labs.

    And just to be sure I wasn't mistaken I disconnected myself, sent several emails, and re-connected so that I could watch them be sent. One was to myself on another email account so I am quite confident that it works.
  • 6 Hide
    JMcEntegart , January 28, 2009 9:01 PM
    Wasn't suggesting it was a Gmail Labs invention, just something a lot of Gmail users have been waiting for. :) 
  • -7 Hide
    NuclearShadow , January 28, 2009 9:37 PM
    While its good that we can now do this with Gmail its certainly nothing big and no offense to you Jane but its really not news worthy...
  • 4 Hide
    afrobacon , January 28, 2009 9:46 PM
    I personally like the feature. Sure it's not invented by Google Labs, but not all great ideas are...

    Call me old and set in my ways, but Gmail is the only email I can really stand to use on a daily basis. Anything Microsoft makes me think twice before using it, Yahoo always felt cheap to me; not to mention they remind me of the ask.com toolbar.
  • 2 Hide
    Tindytim , January 28, 2009 10:36 PM
    afrobaconI personally like the feature. Sure it's not invented by Google Labs, but not all great ideas are...Call me old and set in my ways, but Gmail is the only email I can really stand to use on a daily basis. Anything Microsoft makes me think twice before using it, Yahoo always felt cheap to me; not to mention they remind me of the ask.com toolbar.


    I agree. I find the clean, and clutter free interfaces that Google sticks to makes Gmail extremely appealing.
  • 1 Hide
    tayb , January 29, 2009 12:57 AM
    afrobaconI personally like the feature. Sure it's not invented by Google Labs, but not all great ideas are...Call me old and set in my ways, but Gmail is the only email I can really stand to use on a daily basis. Anything Microsoft makes me think twice before using it, Yahoo always felt cheap to me; not to mention they remind me of the ask.com toolbar.


    It is an email program not as if you are installing a new operating system. You try it out if you don't like it you don't use it.

    I always used gmail until I downloaded Windows Live to give it a spin with Windows 7. I couldn't imagine going back. I used to have to forward my university email to my gmail account but now I just sync both of them and can view their inbox/outbox separately on the same page without worrying which email came from where. The user interface is, in my opinion at least, better on WLM than on gmail but that is up to the specific user.

    There isn't much to lose from simply giving it a try because it is pretty feature rich, free to download, easy to setup with gmail accounts, and easy to uninstall if you don't like it.
  • 3 Hide
    JMcEntegart , January 29, 2009 8:02 AM
    @Nuclearshadow: Gotta say, I disagree. It's a feature Gmail users felt was missing. Not everyone keeps an eye on the Gmail blog and there was nothing to suggest working offline was an option when I signed into Gmail this morning. I think it's news for sure. Maybe not huge news (in that it doesn't affect everyone, just Gmailers), but news none the less.
  • 1 Hide
    Grims , January 29, 2009 1:39 PM
    taybUm... I have been able to do this with Windows Live Mail for quite a while now. I can respond to any number of messages and they will all be sent as soon as I re-connect to the internet. This isn't a new feature and certainly not a masterpiece invention from the google labs. And just to be sure I wasn't mistaken I disconnected myself, sent several emails, and re-connected so that I could watch them be sent. One was to myself on another email account so I am quite confident that it works.



    Comparing a web based interface email and a downloadable client are two very different things...Any down loadable client should be able to browse and compose email offline...A fair comparison would be web based hotmail vs gmail...can it do it?
  • -2 Hide
    m3kt3k , January 29, 2009 2:25 PM
    IM sorry but my webserver has both pop and web based. VERY clutter free and both off and online.. HMMMMM
  • 0 Hide
    fuser , January 29, 2009 3:03 PM
    Useful for people who don't like Thunderbird or who don't have a POP account :) 

    Actually, Yahoo does a much better job with Web 2.0 features in their web mail.
  • 0 Hide
    zak_mckraken , January 29, 2009 5:12 PM
    Definition of "News": Information about recent events or happenings, especially as reported by newspapers, periodicals, radio, or television.
    New information of any kind: The requirement was news to him.
    Newsworthy material: “a public figure on a scale unimaginable in America; whatever he did was news” (James Atlas).

    Number of Google users in december 2008 : 91.6 million

    Around 91.6 million persons must be happy to have this news reported.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 1, 2009 12:14 PM
    It's a convenient feature, but there is no obvious way to password-protect access to gmail when one is offline. Which makes having it problematic when traveling (when it would be most convenient). If I lose the laptop or someone steals it, why would I want my private email so easily accessible? Am I missing some obvious way to password-protect the offline incarnation of gmail?
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