While Google I/O was going on yesterday, the Gmail team announced a new feature that you may have missed. If you are using the new Gmail experience and Chrome as your browser, you can now configure the mail service to work offline in the browser.
In Settings, there is now a new Offline tab where you can configure things. You can select the amount of time you want stored locally – 30, 60, 90 days – and then configure the security settings on what to do if you sign out of Chrome. Save the settings and now you can work offline in Gmail while you are on that flight or elsewhere that WiFi isn’t available.
Because the caching of your email is handled by Chrome, it won’t work with other browsers (at least not yet) and you have to be using Chrome 61 or higher. Given we are on Chrome 66 these days, that latter point likely isn’t an issue for most users.
Previously, if you want to use Gmail offline, you had to either use the mobile apps (which obviously work offline) or you had to use an offline Chrome extension. Effectively this new feature is that extension, it is just native now. Indeed Google recommends that if you have that extension enabled, that you uninstall it so as not to cause a conflict.
The feature is rolling out now to all Gmail customers and as of this morning, it was on my account. Check yours as it could well be there already. For those who are on G Suite domains, this is a feature that will have to be enabled on the domain so rollout there will be dependent on if your organization will allow it.