How to Access Gmail on your Desktop

Gmail is one of the most popular email providers in the world, helped by the fact that it was one of the first services to sync up neatly with various cloud services. It probably plays a central role in your computing life, so having it accessible as a desktop app would be super-handy.

While there is no separate Gmail desktop app as such, there’s a neat trick that lets you open an instance of Gmail as its own window, without the surrounding Chrome interface. Combined with Gmail’s recently-added offline mode, this effectively lets you create your own Gmail app.

The following instructions will show you this neat trick.

Note: In late 2018, Google made a small UI change for Chrome that rendered our original method obsolete. This guide shows an updated method that works in the latest versions of Chrome

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, then under the General tab, click “Offline.”

how-to-access-gmail-on-desktop-gmail-settings

Check the “Enable offline mail” box. This will open up 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, thirty, or ninety days old and whether to download attachments to your PC.

how-to-access-gmail-on-desktop-offline-settings

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

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.”

how-to-access-gmail-on-desktop-create-shortcut-2

Call the shortcut Gmail, then click Create and the Gmail shortcut will appear on your desktop.

access-gmail-desktop-app-create-shortcut

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.

access-gmail-desktop-app-open-as-window

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.

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And that’s it. You’ve beaten the system, and created a fully-functional Gmail desktop app where one didn’t exist before.

Conclusion

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.

Another thing worth noting is that our method of creating a desktop Gmail app can be applied to all G Suite apps, including Docs and Drive.

This article was first published in January 2009 and was updated in December 2018.

13 comments

  1. I would add Thunderbird or any other POP3 or IMAP capable e mailclient to that list…

  2. Mozilla Prism or Google Chrome will allow you to make a Gmail web app short cut on your desktop to use it like an application without back/forward buttons etc. (or any website)

    Prism needs more work but it has potential. You can even find a pre-built package in Ubuntu

    sudo apt-get install prism-google-mail

    Or just install prism by itself and use it with any website

  3. Thanks for listing the other ways to access gmail..

  4. Hello,
    In fact, i`m a new user of Google generally, so i wish get more info inorder to provide me more and more experiences.

    regards

  5. Hi Lawand, what kind of info are you looking for? Are you sure you are a new user of Google? or you are referring to Gmail?

  6. I created the GMail shortcut but when I click on it, it takes me directly to maketecheasier. What did I do wrong?

  7. Superb!!! =DDDD Thanks!!!! I didnot know that trick!!! =DDD

  8. Have you noticed how the “Open as window” option has disappeared with one of the latest updates to Chrome? I’m on Chrome v 70 now and can only save a shortcut to open Gmail (or any page) as a tab within a normal Chrome window. This is a huge disappointment! It seems this feature can be grandfathered in if done through an older version of Chrome as I still have a functioning Gmail app on my PC at home and work, but am unable to do so on my new laptop. Any known workaround?

    1. Type chrome://apps in the URL search in chrome. right click your gmail link and select open as window. This has apparently been ‘moved’ for Chrome 70.

  9. Worked great on one of my computers but on the other the new window check box does not appear when creating the shortcut any idea why not? The shortcut opens up within the chrome environement which feels clunky.

  10. 1. The Offline option is now it’s own tab within Settings – it is not within the General tab.
    2. You should clarify that the three-dotted menu icon is in the chrome bar, not within the Gmail webpage. I tried several buttons within Gmail before looking at your picture and seeing it is in the chrome bar, not within the Gmail webpage. Your text does not mention that. “To do this, simply open Gmail in Chrome, then click “the three-dotted menu icon at the top right -> More tools -> Create shortcut.” ”
    3. Thanks! A dream come true!

  11. It doesn’t work. When I open the link in Windows, it launches Chrome and opens Gmail there. However, if I launch it from chrome://apps, it opens in its own window

  12. I noticed that the add shortcut does not exist in more tools.

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