Way back when, I used to use Google Gears to run gmail in offline mode in Firefox – usually when on a plane without wifi. Eventually Gears was retired, and a while after that, Google released a chrome app called Offline Google Mail that looked to do most of what you could once do with Gears.
I know I can install Thunderbird or run Mac Mail to do email offline, but I like the idea of using just my browser and not installing or running other client apps.
So on a recent trip Virgin America had non functioning wifi, and on the other leg it just barely worked. So I figured I’d put Offline Google Mail through it’s paces. What I found was pretty lacking and I took some notes :)
- 1) This is a biggie. It won’t work if you are offline ! WTF you may say ? “Offline” is in the app name. Yes, but to make it work, you need to first launch the app while you are online and then keep the browser open. Otherwise you see some version of the screenshot above. This seems like something that has to be fixed — as you never know when you might need offline access, and certainly don’t want to have to plan for it.
- 2) Reply-all always CCs me the sender. Small thing, but annoying to have to remove yourself each time if there is more than one person on a thread.
- 3) native spell checker doesn’t work.
- 4) can’t force plain text mode in reply, you get stuck in this visual/rich mode which I’m not a fan of
- 5) no option to send & archive, which is my default in gmail
- 6) A biggie. It doesn’t detect the email address (i use multiple ones) to which the email was sent to. Unlike desktop gmail – which replies from the account the email was sent to
- 7) When I click save, it picks a different time zone than my machine’s. Maybe that’s a gmail/calendar thing — but causes confusion.
- 8) Another biggie. It doesn’t download attachment or images, clicking “show images” doesn’t do anything. Would love an option to include attachments.
Too bad it’s not open source — could send in patches :)
Anyone else have a better setup or recommendation ?
I see other complaining too:
Damn. Offline gmail solutions suck! Do I need to try Outlook?? Apple Mail is slow. Sparrow has screwed me 2x's. Gmail offline app not good.—
David Samuel (@dsamuel) April 19, 2012