A little over a year ago, as part of my blog series on how to use your Chromebook effectively and efficiently, I did a post on how to access your Gmail even when you are offline. With the recent release of the NEW Gmail last month Google has chosen to integrate the offline app into the new interface.
When you enable Gmail offline you are enabling access to your email data so that you can manage your mailbox (e.g. search, label, delete, and archive). You can even compose new messages despite the fact that you are offline. Any changes made will be synced up to the cloud when your device is able to go online again.
Where is it?
From the NEW Gmail home screen…
- Click on the Settings gear icon in the top-right corner of the window and from the drop-down menu choose Settings.
- Move right across the row of tabs until you find the Offline tab.
NOTE: If you are using an organizational Gmail account, then your Google Admin will need to enable Gmail offline before you can access this feature. If you are using a personal Gmail account than this feature is already available.
How it works
- To start, place a checkmark in the box to Enable offline mail.
- Gmail will analyze the current size of your mailbox and determine how much local storage space will be needed from your device’s hard drive.
- Select how long you want Gmail offline to store your emails. Your choices are 7, 30, or 90 days.
- Choose whether or not to download attachments with your email. Checking off this box will increase the amount of storage space needed.
- Determine what Gmail offline should do when you log out of your Google account on the device:
- Keep offline data on my computer: Selecting this option will keep your data saved locally on the device’s hard drive even after you sign out, shut down, or changing your password. This option is recommended if you are the only user of the device.
- Remove offline data from my computer: Selecting this option will delete the offline data when you log out of your account and will need to be resynced when you log back in to Gmail. This option is recommended if you are using a shared or public device.
- Remember to click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the window to enable/update your Gmail offline preferences.
For more information, please check out this post on the G Suite Updates blog.
Last week Google announced a major refit to one of their core GSuite apps: Gmail. The updates to Gmail blend many different tools and settings together, with some pulled from what used to be available only through their Gmail Labs tab or from their other Email app: Inbox. The new Gmail can be activated now on personal accounts from the Settings gear icon; organization Gmail accounts (i.e. enterprise and education) will need to wait for their Google admin to turn this feature on.
To get a quick rundown of the features that come with the new Gmail you can check out this summary on their Keyword blog, or you can read this product guide from the Gmail Help Desk. I would also encourage you to check out this video from our Technology Department that shows some of the key features in action:
NOTE: I mentioned earlier the Labs tab in the classic Gmail. This information is still available but the tab has been renamed to “Advanced” in the new Gmail interface.
I love Google Classroom. All of the notifications that I tend to get from Classroom, not so much. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate some of the notifications I get, for example when students re-submit assignments because they are challenging themselves to improve upon their work and demonstrate mastery of the standard(s) being assessed. Thankfully, Google Classroom has expanded their notification settings so that we can decide which types of notifications we want to get.
From the home screen inside of Google Classroom, click on the hamburger icon in the top-left corner to reveal the menu sidebar. Scroll down to the very bottom of the list and clicking on Settings.
Now, in addition to turning on/off all Classroom notifications, you can now customize Classroom notifications based on comments, activity in classes that you’re enrolled in (i.e. a student) and classes you teach.
I still have a filter rule in my Gmail for all email notifications from Classroom to bypass my Inbox and drop directly into a label. However, these improved controls will help better manage those notifications that I want to receive, especially from the Classroom app on my mobile device.
Device and account security are both critical components to anyone who uses technology. The past few weeks have centered around this topic with tips that covered how to keep your Chromebook secure and up-to-date. For my final post in this series, we will examine how to access and review the activity on our mail account.
Part 4: Gmail Activity Information
Many of us login to our Gmail account from multiple devices, sometimes even from “shared” devices like a computer lab terminal or shared workstation. When this does happen, do you make sure that you sign-out of your account each time? Google provides a way to examine your Gmail account activity and, more importantly, force logout of all Gmail sessions that may still be active.
- Open the Gmail app
- Scroll to the bottom of your window and in the bottom-right corner locate the heading “Last account activity” and click on the Details link.
- Here you can review the activity displayed. If anything looks suspicious, then you can click the ‘Sign out all other web sessions’ to force sign-out of your Google account on all devices that have been used to access your mail account.
- It is highly recommended that at this point you consider changing your account password to prevent any future unauthorized access.
- Before closing the window, scroll down to the bottom and locate the “Alert preference” heading. By clicking the ‘change’ link, you can configure this setting to notify you if any unusual activity is detected in the future.
In a previous post I covered several tools and tips for when you find yourself in the situation of being “offline” with your Chromebook. While offline means that you can’t send or receive emails, there is a way that you can at least access the email you have already. In fact, you can even compose emails that will be sent when your Chromebook is able to access WiFi again and resume normal “online” operations.
Get the App
- On your Chromebook, use the Launcher tool to access your Google Apps and locate the Web Store app. You can also open the Chrome app and do a search for Chrome Web Store.
- Locate the ‘Search the store’ box located in the top-left corner of the site, then type in the keywords “Gmail offline” and press Enter.
- Scroll down to the list of “Apps” to find the entry for Gmail Offline.
- Click the ADD TO CHROME button to start the download.
- When prompted, approve the app to initiate the install.
Setup the App
- Use the Launcher, located in the bottom-left corner of your Chromebook, to access the list of installed apps and find the Gmail Offline app.
- When you run the Gmail Offline app for the first time, you may be prompted to ‘Allow offline mail’ so that the app can sync copies of recent mail to your device.
Using the App
- If you’ve ever used the Gmail app for iOS and Android, then you will notice that the interface is very similar to the Gmail Offline app.
- All email that the app was able to sync prior to going offline will be available here for you to read.
- With the app you are able to:
- Read emails
- Archive or delete emails
- Star emails
- Organize emails into labels
- Compose new emails or reply to existing ones
- Note that email attachments may or may not be available, depending on whether the app was able to sync them to your Chromebook before going offline.
When your Chromebook is able to resume normal online operations, the Gmail Offline app will automatically begin syncing all of your offline activity up to cloud and send any emails that were waiting in your Outbox.
Several years ago my school district transitioned to Google Apps for Education and Gmail became the handler of our email. After the move we encountered an issue where email links in Chrome were being handed off to the default email app on our laptops (in our case, Mac Mail) instead of Gmail. This was very frustrating for our users until we found a Chrome Extension, Mailto, to help redirect the email link requests.
Fast forward to today, and lo and behold there is an option built right into Chrome to ensure that Gmail is the default mail client for email links.
- Open your Chrome browser
- Navigate to mail.google.com or use the Gmail app from the navigation ‘waffle.’
- After the Gmail app has loaded, locate the omnibox (a.k.a. address bar) at the top of the Chrome browser window. Move down until you reach the far end of the bar and look for a pair of overlapping diamond icons.
- Click on the double diamonds to access a pop-up window containing the option to allow mail.google.com to open all email links. Select ‘Allow’ enable this feature.
If you use Google’s Inbox app, then you will need to go into the app Settings and disable the “Redirect Gmail to inbox.google.com” option under ‘Other’ then follow steps 2 through 4 from above. Afterward, navigate to inbox.google.com and then into Settings to re-enable the redirect option.
If for some reason you do not see the double diamonds icon in the address bar, then you can still access this option from the Settings panel in Chrome. The complete navigation tree to find this option is Settings -> Show advanced settings… -> Content settings button under Privacy -> Manage handlers button under Handlers. However, I think it’s easier to go up to the search box in the Settings panel and type in the keywords: manage | handlers and let Google show you the way there.
NOTE: This option does not make the Mailto Chrome extension obsolete. Rather, because it is an extension Google Admins can choose to deploy it to all of the users inside of their organization.
In my last post I talked about how to use special ‘search operators’ when conducting a Google Search to help Google return results that are more closely related to the information you are looking for. If you are a Gmail user, then there are special search operators designed specifically for this Google App to help you quickly and efficiently zero in on a specific email or conversation.
For example, you can search for emails that have attachments by using the operator filename: (Ex. filename: agenda.doc – this will look for messages that have an attachment called ‘agenda.doc’). In another example, by default Gmail does not search for items that may be in your Spam or Trash labels. You can instruct Gmail to do a truly global search by using the operator anywhere: (Ex. anywhere: minutes – this will search for any messages containing the word ‘minutes’). There are many other operators that will let you search Gmail by label, starred items, before a date, after a date, between two dates, and many more.
A sampling of some of these search operators is covered below in a video from Techzilla; the full list of operators can be viewed on Google’s Gmail Help site.
My thanks to FreeTech4Teachers.com for tweeting this video and Techzilla for sharing the link to Google’s full list of Gmail search operators.