Gmail is the foremost email provider on the planet. It’s feature-packed, ubiquitous across smartphones, and very well presented. For those reasons, you may just want to be able to access your Gmail directly from your desktop, without having to open a browser window first.
Thankfully, both Chrome and now Microsoft Edge (Chromium version) let you turn webpages into discrete desktop apps, complete with their own icons, which let you access sites as if they were their own programs. This method lets you create a desktop version of Gmail that you can access right away. You can use the one app for multiple email accounts, too!
First, Enable Gmail Offline
First, you should enable Gmail’s new native offline mode. You don’t have to do this, but if you want Gmail to function as a desktop app that you can use without Internet, and which then syncs up with your online account, it’s highly recommended.
Go to your Gmail inbox, click the Settings cog icon at the top right -> See all settings, then under the General tab, click “Offline.”
Check the “Enable offline mail” box. This will open several more options for you on the page.
Here you’ll see how much storage space your offline mail will take up. You can also choose whether you want it to store mail up to seven, 30, or 90 days old and whether to download attachments to your PC.
In the “Security” box we recommend selecting the “Keep offline data on my computer” option if you’re a home user and confident no one else can access your inbox. This will make the desktop app more seamless, with all your emails accessible as soon as you turn your PC on, instead of waiting for your entire inbox to sync each time.
Once you’re done, click “Save Changes.”
Create Gmail Desktop App (macOS)
If you’re a Mac user, then you don’t need to use a specific browser to turn Gmail into a desktop app. The in-built Automator tool in macOS fulfills much the same function.
- To turn Gmail into a desktop app in macOS, go to the Applications folder and launch Automator.
- Click “New Document -> Workflow”.
- In the left-hand pane, click “Internet -> Get Specified URLs”, then in the “Address” list, add the Gmail URL (https://gmail.com).
After that, double-click “Website Popup” in the middle list and make sure “Site Size” is set to large for it to take up the whole screen.
When you’re ready, click “File -> Save As”, then name your new app “Gmail” and make sure the File Format is “Application”. Wherever you saved it, you can drag your new app from there to your dock, desktop or elsewhere as you see fit.
Create Gmail Desktop App (Edge)
Now that Microsoft has made the wise move to turn its Edge browser into a Chromium-based browser, it’s suddenly unlocked a lot of functionality that brings it more in line with Google Chrome. One example is the fact that you can now turn sites into desktop apps. If you don’t have the new Microsoft Edge, you can download it here.
To create an Edge-based Gmail app, open Gmail in Microsoft Edge, click the three-dot menu icon at the top-right corner, then select Apps and “Install this site as an app.”
In the text box you can leave the name as Gmail or enter another label, then click Install.
Gmail will immediately open as an app, without the URL bar and other browser distractions. For us, the shortcut didn’t appear on the desktop but in the Start menu under “Recently added.” From here you can drag it over to the desktop to create a shortcut, right-click it to pin it to the taskbar, and so on.
Create Gmail Desktop App (Chrome)
So your Gmail inbox is now syncing offline, but you still need to open your Chrome browser to access it. The next step is to turn Gmail into a regular desktop app.
To do this, simply open Gmail in Chrome, then click “the three-dotted menu icon at the top right -> More tools -> Create shortcut.”
Call the shortcut Gmail, then click Create and the Gmail shortcut will appear on your desktop.
Next, in the Chrome address bar, type chrome://apps to take you to a page showing your Google apps as well as any shortcuts you created. Right-click the Gmail shortcut you created then select “Open as window.” From now on, the Gmail shortcut on your desktop will open in its own window rather than within the Chrome browser.
From the desktop, you can copy and move the shortcut as you please. Right-click it and click “Pin to Start” or “Pin to taskbar” to pin the shortcut to the Start menu or taskbar, respectively, or copy it and put it in any folder you want.
And that’s it. You’ve beaten the system and created a fully-functional Gmail desktop app where one didn’t exist before.
What we’ve done above turns Gmail – complete with its lovely new interface – into a desktop app. If you’re not married to the Gmail UI, however, remember that you can sync Gmail up with excellent desktop email apps like Thunderbird, Mailbird, and even Windows’ own Mail app to achieve the same effect.
To keep refining your online experience, try playing around with some Chrome flags to customise your Chrome browser. If you have a bit of time to kill, then sneak a peak at these secret games hidden in various Google apps and products.
Image credit: Google Gmail tablet application free e-mail service screen by DepositPhotos
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