Google revealed last week that the rather popular Gmail Offline extension for the Chrome web browser will be discontinued.
The extension enables offline access for Gmail emails in the Chrome web browser. Current stats show that it is used by over 6 million users at the time of writing and that it has been updated in 2013 for the last time.
Google introduced native offline capabilities on Gmail directly in 2018; the main reason why the company decided that it was the right time to retire the Gmail Offline extension as it offers nothing that the native integration does not offer as well.
Offline access to emails is useful in a number of scenarios: from unstable or no Internet connectivity scenarios to situations where the Gmail website or service appears down.
Google launched Gmail’s native offline experience in 2018 but made it Chrome exclusive. Gmail users need to run a recent version of the Chrome web browser on one of the supported platforms to enable offline access.
Another limitation of the built-in offline functionality is that offline access on Gmail is only available in the new interface version and not on classic Gmail.
The native offline feature unlocks 90 days worth of messages for offline access. Users may open the Gmail interface and access these messages even when the device they are using has no Internet connection at the time.
Google plans to retire the Gmail Offline extension on December 3, 2018. The company suggests that G Suite administrators enable Gmail Offline for users and uninstall the Gmail Offline Chrome extension to support offline access to Gmail after December 3rd.
Gmail users who use Chrome who want to give offline Gmail a try can read our instructions on how to set up Gmail offline on Gmail.com.
Basically, all that is required is to flip a switch in the Offline settings to enable the functionality. Gmail displays a number of settings to you when you select the “enable offline mail” option. You can select to store emails from the last 7, 30 or 90 days offline, and whether you want to download attachments as well.
Non-Chrome users and Chrome users who use the classic interface can’t enable the offline functionality on Gmail at the time of writing. Alternatives include using a dedicated email client, e.g. Thunderbird or Outlook on the desktop, or using email backup software like Mailstore Home for offline access.
Now you: Do you use Gmail? Are you affected by the change?
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