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Google Serves Up Offline Support For Gmail

Users will still be able to access all the features they are used to in Gmail while using offline support

Google e-mail

Offline support for Gmail can be found in the Gmail Labs section of the e-mail application. By turning on the feature, Gmail downloads a local cache of a user's e-mail to his or her computer. When a computer is logged onto the Web, Gmail synchronizes that local cache with Google's servers. Once an account goes offline, Gmail automatically switches to offline support if the feature is enabled, using the data stored on a local machine.

Even in offline mode users will still be able to access all the features they are used to in Gmail, Andy Palay, Gmail engineer, wrote on the Official Gmail Blog.

"You can read messages, star and label them, and do all of the things you're used to doing while reading your webmail online," wrote Palay. "Any messages you send while offline will be placed in your outbox and automatically sent the next time Gmail detects a connection."

One other feature worth noting in the new offline Gmail support is what Google calls "flaky connection mode." Flaky connection mode lets Gmail users still work as through they're online even if the wireless connection is somewhat circumspect. When the connection isn't strong or may disappear, a user can turn on flaky mode. Once it's on, Gmail will sync e-mail with Google's servers while also working off the local cache.

"Our goal is to provide nearly the same browser-based Gmail experience whether you're using the data cached on your computer or talking directly to the server," wrote Palay.

The Gmail team is also quick to point out that offline Gmail support is still an experimental feature, which is why it is located under the Labs section of the e-mail application. Like Gmail itself—which is still in beta and therefore doesn't get the same support an official product would—the feature may act strangely and could even disappear from the Labs section of Gmail at anytime.

To turn on offline support for Gmail, users need to go to the Settings tab and click Labs. Select and enable Offline Gmail and save the changes. After the browser reloads, a new link indicating that Gmail Offline has been selected will appear in the upper right hand corner of the account, next to username.

Offline Gmail support should appear shortly if it isn't there and is only available to U.S. and U.K. Gmail users.

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