How to Backup Gmail to Your Computer Using Gmail Offline Mode

Even though a Cloud server is a lot more reliable than your home or office computer, even Google has it’s outages from time to time.  Just yesterday Google was struggling to repair a major crash that happened over the weekend.  Google plays it safe and makes backup copies of everything, but people experiencing the crash lost all past emails until the backups were restored.  How can you avoid this?  By backing up your email!

A total of only 40,000 or so users were affected, but if you were one of them it was hardly fun to be stuck without your emails for a whole weekend.  The same can be said about internet access, and a host of other things that might sometimes get in the way of you accessing your online Gmail account.  Thankfully, Google has an Offline Mode that solves the majority of those problems.  Once it is enabled, all you have to do is visit and all of emails will still be there, even if you don’t have an internet connection!

Ready to set it up Gmail Offline Mode?  Let’s do it!

Note: Gmail Offline mode will work with Internet Explorer, and Firefox but they require the Google Gears add-on.  Chrome supports it by default.  Gmail Offline will not work for accounts with Multiple Sign-in enabled, you can disable that here.

How To Enable Gmail Offline Mode

Step 1

Click the gear icon in Gmail and Select Mail Settings.  Alternatively you can just Click here.

open gmail mail settings

Step 2

Click the Offline tab from the settings menu and Check the bullet for Disable Offline Mail for this computer.  Now we just need to customize what mail is downloaded.

  • 2.b Select how recent of mail you would like to download for most folders.  Gmail offline mode provides an option we’ll see in Step 3 that will allow you to individually select which folders get completely backed up.  In the example below I Selected to back up mail that is no older than 1 week. This is because most of my mail becomes irrelevant after 1 week, but there are still a few folders I’d like to backup the entire history for.

Now Click Change Label Settings.

gmail enable offline mail for computer and change label settings

Step 3

Label settings should now expand across the screen.  Here you can customize what mail you want to download.

  • All – Download your entire mail history for a specific folder/label in your Gmail.
  • 1 week – This will be whatever time limit you set your Recent range to in Step 2.b, any mail older than this will not be downloaded.
  • None – This folder/label will not be downloaded at all.

set all, set recent, set none - gmail backup settings

Step 4

You can specify maximum attachment sizes, but unless you have people sending you 100mb+ files this shouldn’t be an issue.  You can also create a desktop shortcut that will directly open your mailbox, but all this does is open your web browser.

When you are done customizing, Click Save Changes, and we’re already nearly done.

save gmail offline mode changes

Step 5

You’ll go through a series of prompts.  Click Next

install offline access for gmail

Click Allow and that you Trust Gmail to access Google Gears.

Allow gmail to access google gears

Choose if you want any shortcuts, Click OK.

create an offline gmail shortcut

Wait a few minutes for Google to finish setup and download your email archive.  The amount of time this total amount of your storage space you are using for email.  Space used can generally be seen at the very bottom of your Gmail webpage.

finishing offline gmail installationyou are currently using x amount of space in gmail


Your Gmail emails should now be backed up and downloaded to your computer thanks to Google Gears.  Now that you have Offline Mode enabled, you can choose when you’d like to sync and download emails, and disabling it is easy as well.  To open up Offline Mode options, just Click the little green checkmark that now appears at the top-right of your Gmail window; below your username.

synchronized gmail offline mode

Create a backup of your backup

If you’d like to know where Google Gears stores your Gmail information on your computer, the location is %UserProfile%\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Plugin Data\Google Gears. Here you can copy your folder to make a copy of it, but make sure that it isn’t empty as Gears tends to make several Gmail folders for some reason.

google gears cache location



  1. SueJ

    March 2, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Thanks for this walk-through – very useful for me and my team:-)

  2. amin

    March 23, 2011 at 9:44 am

    tnx …………..

  3. sonia

    October 31, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Nice Article….
    It is very important to backup your email on a regular basis for Disaster Recovery. If you ever loose your email by accidentally deleting or because of any other reason beyond your control,here one simple tool design for doing such task so you can quickly restore your email from the backup using Beyond Inbox. Beyond Inbox is designed for convenience of taking secure backups of IMAP enabled email clients.

  4. Gilbert Sangel

    April 1, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Thank you very much for the above instructions.

  5. Marco

    May 26, 2019 at 11:44 am

    after emails are backed up offline, can hey be deleted from online without losing the backup?
    If emails are deleted from offline, can they still be viewed from offline?

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