Many organizations use Gmail to manage their email, because its generous storage space, ability to use your own domain, and system of tags and filters make it easy to organize email communications. One drawback of Gmail,
however — as with any web-based email — is the need for an internet
connection to be able to use it.
When you’re stuck on a planes, in a waiting room, or in other places
without Web access, it can be frustrating not to be able to get to your
email and make productive use of that time.
And that’s where the new Gmail Offline comes in.
This is a beta feature from Google Labs, which means there are a few
limitations and users are cautioned to expect a few bugs — but I’ve
been testing Gmail Offline on a modest middle-aged laptop for the past
few weeks and have found it remarkably stable and useful.
You have to wait until you’re connected to the Internet again to be
able to access new messages, of course, or to send any email you’ve got
queued up to go out. You also won’t be able to access your Contacts
list when working offline, but the auto-complete of email addresses
does work so that’s not likely to be a show-stopping issue. The only
limitation that I’ve found really significant is that attachments
cannot be accessed in offline mode — but this actually makes sense, as
synchronizing large files between Gmail and your own computer
would take a great deal of time and local storage space.
To use Gmail Offline, you’ll need a Gmail account and an open-source
browser extension called Gears that will let Gmail store a local copy
of your email files on your computer. Gmail Offline is only available for English language Gmail accounts at present.