Ever since I started using my new(ish) MacBook Air, I have been obsessed with desktop apps. PCs running Windows don’t (yet) offer the functionality of apps, and while some — even at LockerGnome — complain that we don’t need apps, I am infatuated with the ability to use a single service in one click right from the dock on my desktop. For several months I have sought after the best app to read my Gmail with, but like most other things in my life, I’m not quite happy with any of the options.
That is, I wasn’t until I discovered Offline Gmail, Google’s new offline mail service. Last month Google announced a new way to read and respond to Gmail, even without being online. Users can download a Chrome Extension, which will make Gmail accessible even if you lose an Internet connection. The UI of Gmail Offline is similar to its mobile UI, which also works if you are online, and is entirely different than the traditional Gmail options desktop users are familiar with. In fact, Mac users might say it looks strikingly like Sparrow, one of the best email clients for Mac OS X.
But unlike Sparrow, Offline Gmail is free, and inherently features all the same functions you would expect from Gmail, such as threaded discussions and easily accessible folders and filters. As an app, Gmail Offline is the ideal Gmail client, especially in tandem with using a Google Notifier to alert you to new messages.
To make this native Gmail app for your desktop using Gmail Offline, you’ll need to install the Chrome extension for Offline Gmail and take note of the URL where you access, read, and reply to Offline Gmail. You’ll also need to download an app called Fluid, which allows users to convert any Web site into a native desktop app. Once Fluid is downloaded, you can add the URL of your Gmail Offline and further customize the app. Once you’ve saved your settings, you’ll have a beautiful native email that is actually Gmail, and not a client.
Would you use the new Offline Gmail interface to read and respond to email instead of traditional Gmail? Let us know what you think in the comments.