Checking Online Gmail Offline

by Ka Edong on April 18, 2008

Right, I know the title is weird. I’m finding this phenomenon weird as well and I don’t have an explanation for it yet.

So let me explain.

This morning, I did some work at at a free wifi cafe along Session Road (Cafe Zola). Ten minutes before my battery went zilch, I opened up my Gmail on Internet Explorer. It displayed around 25 messages. I also opened Thunderbird which I configured to download all my Gmail so that I could reply to emails offline and just send them away next time I connect to the Internet. Then my laptop when into hibernate with the wifi still on, Internet explorer still showing my Gmail inbox, and my Thunderbird still on halfway through the 100 mails it was downloading.

This afternoon, I turned on my laptop and there was my Internet Explorer. I knew there were no WiFi hotspots where I was, but what the heck, I clicked on one of my new Gmail messages from my Inbox in Internet Explorer. And the new message was displayed! Huh?! Where did that come from? How did Gmail display my message on Internet Explorer while i’m offline?

I was able to read the message. I know I couldn’t possibly send a reply offline, so I use thunderbird to store outgoing messages (for sending later on). I was able to archive messages via Gmail in Internet Explorer.

Not all Gmail messages in my Inbox can be opened. Sometimes it says “Unable to reach Gmail. Please check your internet connection and try again.” I just click okay and try opening another message. Some messages open.

This is a mystery to me, so far. I wonder if Internet Explorer or Gmail keeps a cache of new un-opened Gmail messages.

Has anybody had a similar experience? Care to explain, so that I can replicate this phenomenon of Checking Online Gmail Offline?

ka edong
Perplexed with guys at googleplex


  • Gilbert

    Yup! Experienced something like this on my Nokia E61i before. I left the Gmail app running while at the Inbox view. Walked away from WiFi range (accidentally) but I could still click on the individual mails. I guess Gmal caches the e-mail contents if you hang around long enough on the Inbox page. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of header listings I suppose.

  • Yup, I had the same analysis. Some of the emails were cached, some weren’t. 🙂

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