Using Gmail offline

Something that I have been wanting to do for quite awhile is move my email back to the desktop.

I’ve been using gmail exclusively since ’05 to collect all of my email, and it’s been doing a bang up job! I love me the gMail. But, there are times when I’d rather open an app, or compose an email offline (like when travelling) or I would just like to have that information under my control 100%.

At first I thought I would try iMap with gMail. In theory, a great idea. All of the email lives on gmail, and your labels and mail is replicated in your email client. In practice however it doesn’t work that hot, at least not with Gmail. Maybe I have too many rules or labels. Maybe I get too much email. Whatever the reason, it works poorly at best. I was missing emails, or they wouldn’t show up at all in my client. Oh, and the client would almost always crash.

Back to the drawing board I went. Started using Fluid for Gmail and it kinda made it feel like I was using a desktop app. It’s a great app and I highly recommend it especially for Gmail. Watch for a write up that soon.

Let’s hide some of this, since I’ve got a fair amount more to say.

Being a fan of pretty much all things Mozilla, I decided to give Thunderbird another shot. This time not with Gmail IMAP, but with POP3.

It’s an entirely different animal.

Imagine, if you will, your email server. Sitting out there on the internet collecting emails from mom and spammers and sending them all down to your desktop to sort out after they arrive. Yea, ick. This is the #1 reason why I switched to Gmail in the first place. I have yet to find an email program that filters spam as good as Gmail does off the shelf.

Now, imagine if you will that you have a filter between your email server and your desktop. One that strips out the spam, hides it from view and only sends you the good stuff. Boy wouldn’t that be great.

That’s what it is like using Gmail for POP3.

I was a Thunderbird user on Windows for a very long time. In fact, the 2nd app I installed on the mac when I first got it was Tbird, which I was using to read news. This past week I thought it was time to fire it up and give it a shot.

Works just like it always had. Smart search, easy to set up filters and folders, the whole bit. Not terribly fast, but v2, like FireFox v2, has the feel of a Windows program that was ported to the mac.

So, I have decided to give another try. But, to be honest, I don’t think I have used a crashier piece of software except maybe AOL4.0, Netscape 4 (OMG, do you remember how bad that was?) and, more recently, Cyberduck. That was also mostly with Gmail IMAP, but it’s was pretty crashy with POP3 too. Perhaps it was me? I’m going that route for the next week and see if I can’t figure it out.

Another reason for wanting to use mail is the integration. The address book integrates with mail and iCal. iCal and mail and best buds I read someplace too. Sure would be nice to be an adult with a current calendar and address book.

Any good tips or tricks you might have would be greatly appreciated. Don’t bother sending me to any sites with plugins or hacks tho, it’s gotta work out of the box.

By Don

Lead bottle washer at, host at and tech guru for the MotoringFile family of sites.


  1. Momma shed a tear the day I started using Mail, iCal, and Address Book in unison.

    One of the big reasons I got .Mac is because the next iteration (coming in a couple of days!) will sync all those across the iMac, the MacBook, and the iPhone all automagically. Love it.

  2. That all sounds well and good, but Mobile Me? Honestly, it sounds like something from the rejects bin at Microsoft.

    Should be interesting to see if it works. Hopefully better than back to my mac 😉

  3. Hehe I haven’t had a single problem with Back to My Mac when I signed on. When I first used it, I was at work and needed a file from home, but I had no idea how to go about setting it up. I opened a new Finder window, and a Safari window to google it, but in Finder there was my iMac in the sidebar. I clicked it, and sure enough it just worked. I was in my documents folder at home. Boom.

  4. I’ve been using iCal (in conjunction with 30boxes) and I’m trying to tame the Address Book yet again. I’m curious about mobileme.. The only time I use Mail is if I want to embed an image in an email.

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